March, 2012

So far 2012 has been a positive year for the tax job market, albeit with a slight slow down from 2011 activity. The recovery momentum from 2010-2011 has continued into this year, and there remains a noticeable demand for tax professionals.  We are now 3 years on from the recession of 2008-2009, and it feels that the employment market has benefited significantly from the corporate market recovering itself from the financial crises in 2008.  However with this seemingly healthy tax job market, there is clearly a fragile economic backdrop – a heavily indebted Eurozone situation, stock markets lacking confidence, negative news flow on the US economy, and the threat of the UK dropping back into technical recession. Generally it feels currently that the tax job market and the economy and behaving out of sync, and the danger is that the employment market recovery mentioned above could quickly run out steam. We hope not.

Recruitment across the UK in-house tax market remains active during 2012.  This is a combination of in-house tax functions feeling willing and able to hire into their teams and a good level of movement around the in-house market, leading to a high proportion of outgoing people being replaced. There is demand for corporate / international tax professionals and those with a remit for tax accounting/reporting, and demand for VAT/Indirect Tax specialists remains strong. There has also been a good level of roles for in-house transfer pricing managers within the larger-end multinationals.

Recruitment activity across the practice market has been moderately busy, with the Big Four continuing to build up tax resource to match increasing corporate and M&A activity, and to build up specialist teams for areas such as tax systems / technology consulting and iXBRL. Some of the Top 20 firms have also made a good number hires in tax during this year.

In the field of tax software / technology, there has been good demand for new hires within the tax software companies. The continued growth of tax technology businesses in the UK market has been fuelled by iXBRL, Senior Accounting Officer rules and adoption (mainly by some large-end corporates) of more streamlined ERP-based tax compliance and accounting systems.

So despite the tax job market behaving as one would expect i.e. quite bullish post-recession mode, concerns of more significant set-backs within the UK and broader international economy could knock out a lot of the rising confidence we observed during 2011. Hopefully if there are no more major shocks coming out the Eurozone debt crises, we may be able to keep the UK jobs market roughly on track.