inhousetax.co.uk - Talentpool Selection
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

UK Corporate Tax people - where are you?

Friday, 22 August 2008


By Simon Godley

Through my contact with clients and my awareness of current tax vacancies in the London market, particularly on the commerce/industry side, it seems that industry is really struggling to find and recruit UK tax accountants. I am referring to the classic scenario of a UK plc or multinational looking to hire a 'tax newly qual'. The hiring company initially envisages this as quite a straight forward exercise, thinking that there is probably quite a lot of them floating around, particularly after the ACA or CTA results are released. But it isn't, and more often than not it ends up being a disappointing, long and fruitless process, sometimes resulting in the company hiring someone from overseas with a non-UK tax background (NZ tax qualifieds are quite popular) or internally transferring someone from an accounting division and training them into a tax role.

So I thought this situation of the elusive UK Tax Accountant was worthy of further debate and investigation. I thought firstly I would initially try to guesstimate how many corporate tax (CT) newly qualifieds there are in London in 2008. I stress this is a rough estimate, but I think it gives a useful ball park figure.

I know that there was approx 120 tax graduates taken on by one of the Big Four in London in 2005. From this number, I have extrapolated to cover the London Top 10 firms (which will cover the vast majority of the large company CT market). I have then made some assumptions about what proportion of the tax graduates will stick with it through their 3 year training contract to qualifying. For example, there will be a percentage that will fail their ACA or CTA exams, and drop out of a tax career. There will also be a percentage who will simply decide it's not for them. I then assume, of those that qualify at ACA, a percentage will decide to take their qualification and use it in a different sector e.g. banking or management consulting, and therefore leave the tax market in 2008.

The number that I arrived at was 270. Let me clarify what this is - this is the estimate number of corporate tax newly qualifieds in London from the professional firms in 2008. Once again, I stress that this took some guess work, as it is not the sort of figure you can look up and find quickly on the Internet.

But wait - I think the majority (possibly 60% or so) of this 270 don't do any tax compliance or accounting work. The Big 4 firms in London have very much focused their CT divisions on planning/advisory, and a large number of CT qualifieds (even at newly qual level) no longer do tax compliance work. And it is the compliance and accounting experience that commerce/industry is looking for when it looks for a 'tax newly qual'. So this 270 could be easily reduced to c.100-120 CT newly qualifieds in London (that still do tax compliance work).

So this is now starting to explain why industry may struggle to hire UK Tax Accountants. Of a city with a 10 million population, there might be c.100 tax professionals who have the right skills to move across to industry as a Tax Accountant.

We then add to this the efforts on staff retention that the accounting firms use to keep their people e.g. overseas or internal secondments, regular annual promotions to the next level (which will lead to Tax Manager, and the challenging but 'gold at the end of the rainbow' type pursuit to Tax Partner), and we are left with a low number (say, 50 or less) of budding in-house UK Tax 'newly qual' Accountants.

And this is from a year (2005) in which the graduate intake into Big 4 would have been quite high. Just think how small the number might boil down to 3 years after a low graduate intake year!


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posted by Simon Godley

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