As a recruiter in the tax technology field, one of my core pursuits is searching for potential candidates. And preferably finding candidates that are either already in the tax technology field, or have some level of experience with enterprise tax systems / software.

Firstly, let me say this is not easy. I do often say to clients that there is no obvious training ground for these people, and they do not spring up from any obvious source company. Ultimately this is very much a hybrid niche specialisation – it combines knowledge & experience of IT systems (very big market) with knowledge and experience of tax (smaller, but also a sizable market) to form a professional in the tax technology market (small market, but growing quickly).

But these specialists have to come from somewhere, they must have a professional background which has started somewhere. So I felt it was worth doing a brief study to see if there are any common traits within the backgrounds of tax technologists, which may help to see if there is in fact any obvious training ground.

I took a look at the senior tax technologists that I have met for my “Interview with:” article for my quarterly newsletter Tax Technologist. These are people with very established tax technology careers, having worked in the market for some time. But what are their initial backgrounds? Are they graduates, and in which subjects? What was their first job? Are there any patterns?

The vast majority are graduates. Only one had moved into a professional career directly from school. One common thread on degree subjects is that in general they had either done a finance/accounting/business based degree, or had done a science based degree. An engineering degree was a popular choice.

In terms of first jobs, I was expecting almost all of them to have trained in tax with a Big Four firm. This was my background, and I have seen a lot of other tax technology people with this initial training. Actually only around half had this initial background. Other initial career choices were finance, financial analysis, sales, IT programmer, auditing. There was only one that had trained as a tax technologist from the start of their professional career.

So it seems fair to conclude that successful tax technologists tend to have an academic grounding in Science / Maths / Engineering or have taken a more vocational degree qualification in business. I think it is also clear that the vast majority start their professional career with something else in mind, whether that be tax professional, finance, IT or sales and then find the area of tax technology somewhere else down the career road. Exactly when and where is very difficult to predict, but it seems obvious to them to settle in that field once they find it.

For more information on this topic, please contact Simon Godley at sg@talentpoolselection.com