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Guidance Newly Qualified CTAs – Build and Protect Your CV

Article Background

As we are in CTA Results season, lots of recruiters will be telling you it is time to move on pastures new and this may indeed be on your mind too, but you need to make sure any move you make (internally as well as externally) helps to build your CV – and you also need to protect your own IP and brand by using only a knowledgeable recruiter. This is a short article designed to pass on some of my 16 years (and the Pro Tax team’s combined over 50 years!) of Tax recruitment experience, talking about the options in the 2023 tax job market and what type of skills are going to be most in demand over the next 12-18 months. I’ll also highlight some of the many great opportunities currently available which Pro Tax is handling. The main message to take away is there is a LOT of choice, and an experienced guide is best placed to help you navigate your career path. In the practice market, the CTA qualification will be seen as a rubber-stamp of your technical grounding and a passport to new and exciting roles with more focus on an area of tax, a sector or simply a role with a lot more responsibility. There is no limit to the type of firm (size/culture/location) you can apply to, so think about what you have enjoyed about your career so far and would like to build upon and what you would like to change or add to your CV. Think about which of these are important to you:

Size of team. This is not the same as size of firm. There are some teams of no more than 15-20 people in Big 4 (as well as some which are much larger), so you will not necessarily be “lost” if you move from a small to a large firm. The key is speaking to a recruiter who actually knows the teams, not just knows a large firm has a vacancy – THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. As a relatively junior team member, finding a team that has senior members with the skills (and TIME) to support your growth is very important.

Type of Work. Most newly qualified candidates tell us they want something different and what they often mean is more advisory, less compliance. It is not as simple as this of course, because what a team focused on group/cross border tax work considers to be compliance might be described as Advisory elsewhere. Other options which are available and offer great progression include M&A, or Deals, Tax, Tax Risk Consulting (including Tax Technology project work), Reward and Share Plans, Transfer Pricing, Tax Disputes, International Tax, Mixed Tax, R&D Tax and Private Capital/Private Business Tax.

Type of Client. Would you like to specialise in a sector (Energy/Renewables, Financial Services (including FinTech), Real Estate, Media and Entertainment, Retail (eCommerce), or do you like a real mixture? Would you like to work with massive publicly owned companies in the UK and overseas, PE-backed companies, Investment Funds like PE and VC funds, Entrepreneurs and their companies, start ups or again a mixture?

Type of Firm. For ease of reference, we often slit the firms into Big 4, Mid-Tier or smaller firm categories, but there is so much more to it that this. Here are some things to consider: • Growth of the firm • Is it part of a larger group or independent? Where are decisions really made? • Strength of the international network (does it provide work for the UK member firm?) • Culture • Location and hybrid working policy • Secondment opportunities • Overseas working policy • Size of the specific team within the firm and the make up of this team/seniority of the team members Some of these questions can be answered via your own research but some, often the most crucial, are answered by Pro Tax team members because they know their clients well.

Build Your CV – Skills to Add Tax Technology. Tax Technology is no longer a stand-alone team in large firms. Of course, there are people who choose to specialise in work such as ERP implementation/Transformation or even software and program development, but everyone in tax must keep up to date with the latest filing, reporting and analytical tools their clients or employers are using. Find a firm who provides this type of continuous education and development. If your current firm does not offer this, others can.

Client Relationship and Staff Management. You are ultimately looking to move smoothly and quickly to a Manager job title, in your current firm, elsewhere or in industry/finance. The jump to this level should shift your focus from pure work delivery/technical knowledge to assuming more responsibility for client relationships and training/supervising junior staff. If you do not get those responsibilities, other firms will offer them.

Ditch Compliance? Not necessarily. Listen to what your clients and the corporate/individual taxpayer in general is asking for advice on and very often these days it is based around Tax Risk. Tax Risk often equates to the question of “Are we paying the right amount of Tax?”, which is light years from the question which might have been asked 10 or 15 years ago “Could we pay less tax?”. Tax authorities around the world are under pressure to recoup more money, so client s need help to defend and future-proof their tax positions. To know if the tax figures are right you need to know the technology is functioning properly (see above) and the processes and people are also fit for purpose. Clients want their tax firm to reassure them the numbers are right and this is a compliance issue. This is not to say you need t fil in tax returns forever, but it means there are lots of opportunities to progress in this area of tax, more than ever in fact. If you really hate compliance, there are 100% advisory roles and of course Deals Tax opportunities.

Current Roles. Here is a link to a selection of roles Pro Tax is currently handling for CTA qualified candidates Opportunities for CTA qualified candidates

For more information on this article, or for advice on your next career move as a newly qualified CTA candidate, contact Matthew on 07816 529 364 or