January, 2013

As we move into the early part of 2013, there seems to be some positive sentiment in the market.  The severe downturn of 2008-2009 sparked by the credit crisis seems to be fading into economic history, although the effects of it are still very visible.  The stock market has jumped up in the last couple of weeks, with the FTSE 100 now in the 6,300-6,400 range.  These factors are bringing more confidence into the market, which is all good news for hiring activity.  We still have a troubled Eurozone economic backdrop, and still not clear what the effects have been from the UK austerity program, so our feeling is that the overall job market should be positive and this year with reasonable activity, although certainly patchy.

In terms of the current tax job market in the UK, it’s not all bright and rosy, and there is still some more recovery to take place from a rather slow-ish 2012 market.  This is particularly the case on the practice / advisory side of the market.  The Big 4 firms are certainly doing some recruiting in tax, but it’s quite cautious, and they are being very careful to select only those tax candidates that have more rare skill sets or deeper tax specialisms so as to be able to offer a highly specialised service to clients in distinct sectors.

The in-house tax market is active, although by no means bullish, as companies start to see ways of gradually increasing their in-house tax resources as and when they can seek hiring approvals.  The processes for these approvals can still be rigorous, and so the hiring process can often be elongated.  In-house tax roles will generally come up due to someone moving on from a role, with less newly devised roles emerging.  The in-house tax job market is also dependent on M&A / transaction activity i.e. new roles and departments being formed as a result of companies merging or breaking up.  This sort of activity has been at a low level over the last 2-3 years, but will become more active with a healthier economic outlook and rising stock market.

In terms of specialisms within tax, there is most demand on international tax / transfer pricing, indirect tax, and tax reporting areas.

In the field of tax software and technology, an area in which we are very active, the sector is still developing and growing.  There is particular demand in the London / South East / Thames Valley region for candidates with strong cross-over skills between tax and IT to either enter or move within this sector.  There is an additional spike of demand for highly specialised candidates with exposure to both SAP / ERP systems and VAT or SAP / ERP systems and tax reporting as this is mirroring how large-end corporates are improving their tax systems.

In summary, if there are no major shock waves coming from difficulties within the Eurozone area which could impact further on the UK market, then we would expect to see a moderate to good level of recruiting activity within the UK tax market during 2013.