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Top 5 Trends in the Tax Industry This Year

The latest Robert Walters research has shown increased salaries for newly qualified professionals, a high demand for mid-level managers and whilst corporate tax continues to be the focus for the majority of opportunities, businesses are now increasingly looking for candidates with a broad set of skills across multiple taxes, most notably, tax technology skills.

Dan Harris, Legal Director at Robert Walters, shares his insights into what key trends we can expect to see this year.

Demand for VAT specialists

With the new policy "Making Tax Digital" having gone live on 1st April 2019, there has been an increase in demand for VAT specialists with tax technology experience. This new policy means that complex businesses now have until October to become compliant and embrace digitalising their companies. These changes have meant that in-house tax teams have been looking for VAT/tax technology specialists to join the business on both permanent and temporary contracts, to help advise, create and implement new processes.

If you are languishing in the mid-fifties for a base salary, we will almost certainly have a great in-house opportunity waiting for you.

Base Salary Increase

The number on trend in the tax recruitment industry in 2018 was the increase in salaries for professionals, particularly when making their first career move into an in-house tax team and this remains a key trend in 2019. Businesses continue to focus on tax professionals for manager level positions, where candidates can now command salaries between the £60k and £100k mark. Almost 60% of our candidates achieved a base salary between those levels, with only 9% making less than £40k.

Dan believes that “if you are languishing in the mid-fifties for a base salary, we will almost certainly have a great in-house opportunity waiting for you.”

Tax Managers in demand

Manager level candidates, with between 7 and 15 years in tax, continue to be in demand throughout different businesses and industries, with highly competitive salaries in return. In light of this trend, Dan says “when looking to make a move from practice, you will have your best opportunity/choice during those first two/three years after qualifying.”

Tax Focus Skills

Corporate Tax roles continue to dominate the market, a trend that does not look like changing anytime soon. The most interesting finding from the research is that a staggering third of roles have a mixed tax skew. “More and more we are finding that our clients want candidates with a broad set of skills.”

If professionals restrict themselves to just corporate tax or VAT, they will be missing out on a world of opportunity. Also, for future development, bear in mind that any Head of Tax will be expected to have a broad understanding of multiple taxes. “It seems clear to us that there is huge benefit to becoming more of a generalist”.

Dan recommends “looking at the smaller tax teams in industry. Coming from a simply corporate tax background in practice will be absolutely fine to get you a mixed tax job, but you will be encouraged to learn about the issues surrounding other taxes. Showing drive and a desire to broaden your knowledge will be key.”

Industry Sector Experience

Robert Walters’ strong relationships with the major financial services institutions continues to dominate in 2019. With the additional regulation and legislation that the financial services industry is scrutinised by, it is no wonder that businesses choose to employ more in-house tax professionals than other large corporates, as it would simply be too risky to rely on external advisors.

There was a noticeably strong trend in 2018 where employers were more interested in candidates’ tax technical skills than the sector they previously worked in. With the new "Making Tax Digital" policy this remains a key trend for 2019.

Dan believes that “if you are relatively young in your tax tenure, why not give a stint in a global investment bank a try? The sector typically pays its tax professionals better than the equivalent in commerce, and the banks are really open to your existing experience being from outside the industry. If it’s not for you in the long run, we see plenty of tax professionals making the move back into commerce later in their career.”

The new "Making Tax Digital" policy will cause some key changes within the tax industry throughout 2019. Companies will be expected to digitalise their policies to remain compliant. The base salary jumps when moving in-house means that over two-thirds of our candidates make £60k or more.

If you are considering a new direction in your tax career, why not get in touch to discuss the opportunities we have available? For the latest tax jobs please look here, or contact Dan Harris at daniel.harris@robertwalters.com.


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