With the demand for tax professionals remaining buoyant in the UK, we look at the hot skills and top hiring trends in one of the most resilient markets for talent during the pandemic.
Given how taxation impacts so many areas of the economy, and affects both individuals and organisations, it is not surprising that the demand for experienced tax professionals hasn’t let up. “Recruitment levels are actually higher now than they were pre-pandemic,” says Harry Shepherd, Associate Director at Morgan Philips Specialist Recruitment. “We’re seeing that for all roles, from senior associates through to partners within public accountancy practices and that’s for the Big 4, Top 50 and boutique regional firms across the UK.”
The requirement for tax expertise will be ongoing throughout 2021 as organisations continue to face challenging circumstances, not least the tax impact of Brexit, the full implications of which came into force on 1 January 2021. “Businesses will need all the specialist tax assistance they can get, especially around customs, e-commerce, VAT and excise duties. It’s a complex area as you can imagine, which is why it’s so vital for companies to seek help in navigating all the new tax regulations.”
The digitisation of the tax function is proving to be a game-changer. Organisations are embracing tax technology and revisiting their tax operating models to more effectively manage data. With greater sharing and exchange of information online, companies are also investing in and leveraging AI and machine learning to make their tax departments operate more efficiently and improve decision making. “Clearly, technology will be a key enabler to drive efficiencies and mitigate risk. But people must embrace change too,” notes Shepherd.
Demand for tax talent
But organisations must also have a robust sourcing strategy in place if they are to attract tax professionals. To secure the these niche tax experts, they must seek to understand the motivators of candidates, in terms of what they’re looking for both from the job itself and the work environment. Professionals now want to work more flexibly, so candidates will be looking for evidence for this. “Organisations must adapt to the work aspirations of their employees and they must have a strong go to market EVP [employee value proposition], especially now when candidates are more reluctant to move,” adds Shepherd.
Another key area for consideration is diversity and inclusion - leaders know that this drives improved performance and increased profitability. “Some organisations are really standing out as diversity champions, creating an environment where each individual can fulfil their potential. Addressing the gender balance question is fundamental if companies want to hire the best talent but there is a still a long way both for gender equality but also ensuring that there are more partners from under-represented groups,” states Shepherd.
And what about candidates looking to differentiate themselves? Having a strategy and action plan is vital to success, “Candidates need to be honest with themselves and really think about what’s important to them. For example, is money their main motivator or are they more driven by work-life balance or learning and development opportunities? They need to weigh up different factors or risk making a decision they might regret,” advises Shepherd.
Tax expertise is always in demand, for both personal tax and corporation tax matters. And with changes to VAT treatment, duties and other taxes, UK businesses will need to rely even more heavily on tax specialists post-Brexit.
Check out our latest UK tax jobs