UK tax practice market report highlights: Professional services

Author Sarah Reid
November 29, 2023

Earlier in the year we released our UK tax practice market report and salary guide 2023-2024, highlighting the different areas of tax. Each area contained their own market update, including the current and forecasted challenges and opportunities, and the most popular portion, the salary data. Following on from the success of the report, we decided to launch a series of articles to dive even further into the data we collected from the survey, broken down into these different areas of tax. These articles take a closer look at topics such as flexible and hybrid working arrangements, benefits packages and DEI.

Year on year, companies are taking further steps to be more inclusive, so this year when gathering information to build our market report, we asked numerous questions around DEI and the importance it holds within our respondents’ companies.

64% feel their firms does enough to promote DEI, however, as we can see over half of our respondents haven’t particularly thought about the importance that the DEI strategy holds. 33% feel it is important and 11% do not feel the strategy has value. We also asked if firms did enough to minimise the gender pay gap, with a majority (77.27%) agreeing that their firm is taking the right actions towards this. When analysisng these results in further detail, more Big 4 professionals (85%) feel their company does enough to limit the gender pay compared to professionals at the top 100/boutique firms.

Professional services market overview

After a year of unprecedented hiring and a war for talent in 2022 as well as the start of a cost-of-living crisis, we saw the majority of professional services firms combat these challenges through pay rises. Over 30% of respondents we surveyed earlier in the year had received more than a 10% pay rise in the past 12 months. This was particularly the case within the Big 4 firms. This was not a surprise given that it had been well-publicised in the press how some of these firms had responded to the economic challenges. In May 2022, KPMG announced that the majority of its UK employees would receive flat increases of either £2000 or £4000 in addition to increases later in the year during the annual pay review cycle.

In contrast, 2023 has seen pay rises more in line with those we would expect in a ‘normal’ market. Recruitment volumes have been lower which has meant we have seen less sign on bonuses being offered and not the huge hikes in salary we had seen the previous year. Interestingly, most individuals are still motivated to move because of remuneration. This is not necessarily a reflection that the tax profession is feeling underpaid or undervalued, more a result of the fact that individuals are not willing to move unless they are financially incentivised to do so. This has therefore continued to pose as a significant challenge to firms looking to hire this year as they have needed to balance attracting the right individuals whilst supporting their existing talent. We expect this trend to continue into 2024.

For further information on the market, you can download our UK tax practice market report and salary guide. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss the contents of this article in greater detail or have a conversation about your career or hiring needs, get in touch with Sarah Reid.

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