The last few years have been full of economic curveballs: the pandemic, exceptionally fast recovery and the highest inflation in four decades. The bounce back post-lockdown saw job openings soar to historic levels across many markets, with the UK workforce growing to all-time highs.
For the Tax recruitment market, the past 2 years have seen an unprecedented period of demand across all levels and specialisms. This increase in demand has had an impact on how many employers are now approaching their hiring strategy, with heightened consideration of the candidate’s experience, flexible working arrangements and remuneration.
Despite economic growth slowing in the second half of 2022, the level of job vacancies for tax professionals has continued to be there – both permanent and interim, and the early signs of 2023 suggest this hiring trend is set to continue.
Demand for Tax Roles
Head of Tax
There was a steady demand for Head of Tax appointments throughout 2022. We saw a vast amount of opportunities come in the form of newly-created roles, typically from PE-backed spin-offs or fast-growing start-ups looking to bring tax resources in-house ahead of anticipated further growth. There was also movement in the FTSE market as we progressed through 2022, including some notable new hires at the turn of the year.
The variety of Head of Tax vacancies meant that opportunities were available to a broader range of candidates – both those already operating as established Heads of Tax looking for a new challenge and those looking to make their first move into the Number 1 role.
The early signs of 2023 are showing similar encouraging trends as opportunities continue to arise at the Head of Tax level.
Tax Compliance and Reporting
Tax compliance and reporting continue to be a skill set in high demand. In the last 12 months, the majority of compliance and reporting vacancies were seeking candidates with 0 – 5 years of post-qualified experience. Although this level was the highest in demand and the most competitive – something we have become accustomed to over the years – we also saw healthy demand for more experienced specialists, with several appointments being made at a Director level.
Corporate Tax Advisory
The demand for Tax Advisory hires was less abundant than those coming from other tax specialists, however, the skillset still remains essential for tax functions. Interestingly, we saw a number of Tax Advisory roles also incorporate broader responsibilities in areas of compliance and reporting, and transfer pricing. The broad exposure gained in this type of role could prove favourable for those looking to progress into a future Head of Tax position, whether that be in the form of succession planning or if looking externally in the market.
2022 saw significant hiring activity for Indirect tax professionals at all levels. The demand has largely come from tax functions creating new hires to bolster their in-house indirect tax resource. This was evident from all sectors across Commerce and Industry and Financial Services. Differing from other tax specialisms, in 2022 Indirect Tax departments saw the broadest range of experience being recruited, with appointments at Senior Manager and Director level as equally in demand as those coming from a newly-qualified and Manager grade.
Transfer Pricing has been an area of increased focus for Heads of Tax in recent years, and in 2023 we anticipate a similar trend, with many Tax leaders citing Transfer Pricing as being a skill set in high demand and a priority as BEPS Pillar 2 implementation approaches. In the last 12 months the market has seen a steady flow of Transfer Pricing vacancies, with a significant number of Transfer Pricing positions being combined with International Tax – as previously highlighted.
In 2022 we have seen companies looking for Employment Tax expertise to provide specialist knowledge to the business on a variety of UK and international matters, often with responsibilities spanning areas of Reward and Tax. We’ve seen candidates flourish in roles by being able to provide functional specialist advice as well as being on point for the completion of tax compliance activity. There has been significant demand for Employment Tax specialists across a range of industry sectors in 2022 and we anticipate this trend will continue in 2023.
2022 overall had a positive outcome in what could have been a difficult year for contractors, given the economic uncertainties coupled with the IR35 reforms and the potential Off-Payroll legislation repeal.
Professional contractors still prefer day rates as opposed to Fixed Term Contracts and they have been able to obtain opportunities without too much difficulty. IR35, when it first emerged, was considered as a huge shift, when the reality is that the market has adapted well to a change that initially seemed monumental.
2022 also saw a welcome return of Antipodeans. These candidates have typically made up a large percentage of the interim workforce, especially in London.
With economic uncertainty and financial headwinds, as we head into 2023, demand for interim resources and a flexible workforce is likely to remain strong.