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About In House Tax

About In House Tax

This weblog is a news and views site for tax professionals within the UK and international in-house tax community.  You will find information about appointments and people moves in and around the in-house tax market, issues affecting the in-house tax professional, opinions on the state of the tax job market, updates on tax technology, and other general thoughts of the day.

Hope you find it useful.

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Location: St Albans, United Kingdom

This site has been developed by Simon Godley, who also runs the niche tax recruitment company Talentpool Selection . Simon spends a lot of his time placing tax specialists into FTSE companies, large in-bound groups and some professional services organisations. He also recruits and is well networked around the UK tax technology and VAT markets.

Tax News

Tax skills shortage - what can be done?

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Thoughts of the day - Simon Godley

I keep seeing examples of very well known, high profile and blue chip UK companies (or international companies in the UK) really struggling to recruit UK and/or international tax professionals. It can now take 6 months or more from inception of a role to having a candidate accept an offer. Then in most cases they will serve a 3 month notice period, and so it can take 9-12 months (or longer) to have a tax professional start in a specific role which has been vacant. When a Head of Tax is advised that this could be the timescale to recruit, they will seem highly concerned - in a 12 month period, the outlook or landscape of a business could have completely changed.

As I have discussed in previous articles, this is due to a combination of an acute shortage of fully trained tax professionals in the UK, coupled with a lack of appetite from tax professionals in the UK to move jobs. That's the candidate effect, but there is also the client effect ie when it comes to considering candidates from different backgrounds for a role, just how flexible will a company be? In my experience, not very, which can be fair enough, because in-house tax functions want to recruit in experience which is very targeted for a particular role, thereby not needing to spend time training them after they have joined.

But I think the UK market, and particularly companies, are possibly missing something here. When I look through my candidate database, I have a sizable number of qualified and potentially highly skilled tax candidates from overseas - popular places of origin are India, Australia, South Africa, and Eastern Europe. These candidates are not usually included for first interview because they either lack or have no UK tax experience. But if they were included for first interview, and they held a highly skilled migrant visa to work in the UK (which quite a lot do), and there wasn't a major language barrier (and there rarely is), and the company was prepared to allow them some time to retrain into the UK tax system, then companies may have someone up-to-speed and trained in a role quicker than if they hold out for a UK tax candidate.

The employer will also benefit from the salary that they will have to offer ie lower than an equivalent UK tax professional, and at the same time an attractive salary level from the candidate's perspective.

I'm not at all saying that recruiting candidates from overseas is not without some major pitfalls, for example, physically relocating the person and their family. But I feel that there is more scope for UK/international candidate arbitration than is currently practised.

Views on this warmly welcome.

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posted by Simon Godley


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