UK Tax Market Report 2019/20: In-House Tax Market Overview

Kirsteen Brannigan Market Insight

An increase in recruitment activity despite uncertainty in the wider market has been the story of 2019 so far, with the number of hires made by in-house tax teams reaching levels not seen for several years. Brexit planning and Making Tax Digital (MTD) has resulted in tax teams being extremely busy and although there is still uncertainty around what Brexit will mean for businesses, there has been no negative impact on recruitment activity.

The market is becoming increasingly competitive for securing high-calibre tax professionals with candidates at all levels likely to receive multiple offers. This has resulted in counter offers becoming the norm and these are now an expected part of the resignation process. At the senior end, counter offers will not only mean financial increases and long term retention incentives, but could mean enchanced roles, or the option to broaden responsibility beyond pure tax.

The junior market (Assistant Manager and Manager level) continues itstradition of being candidate-led, where high-calibre candidates have numerous opportunities available to them. With the Big 4 accountancy firms increasing the work they outsource overseas or to shared service centres, we have seen a trend of Heads of Tax preferring candidates with experience within the top 10 firms where the work is more varied and hands on. Despite the market opening up to these candidates, the contrast in graduate intake compared to the Big 4 means there are still too few people available at this level of the right skillset. These candidates are extremely sought after and able to demand salaries that would at first glance seem disproportionate to their level.

Employers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to have a gender balance within their teams and increasingly demand shortlists to reflect this.It is not uncommon for HR teams, Heads of Tax and CFOs to take a keen interest to understand the measures in place to ensure our shortlists and search strategies are as inclusive as possible. Some organisations now have a formal policy in place to ensure they receive a 50:50 male:female ratio at shortlist stage.

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