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We deliver the best recruitment news and advice to the Tax, Legal, Finance, HR and Marketing sectors, including market updates, CV tips, interview advice, and exclusive interviews.


IR35 - What's Changed?

For years, the stigma of IR35 has been a concern for working Contractors across the board in the Public Sector, however, up until now the ‘impossibility’ of HMRC policing such an issue has allowed the majority of contractors to operate outside (whether they legitimately are or not!). So what has changed? As of 6th April this year, the liability on IR35 status and correct tax reductions have shifted from the contractor’s Personal Service Company (PSC) to the end client and agency payrolling the contractor. Before 6 April 2021, if your worker provides services to a client through you in the: Public sector, the client must decide your employment status Private sector, you must decide your worker’s status From 6 April 2021, all public sector clients and medium or large-sized private sector clients will be responsible for deciding your worker’s employment status. This includes some charities and third sector organisations. If the off-payroll working rules apply, your fees will be subject to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions. What does this mean and what have been the ramifications thus far? Well, the most apparent change is everyone involved has become more risk-averse, in the fear of being liable for up to 7 years of back-dated tax payments to HMRC. The end organisations, who are legally responsible for deeming whether an assignment falls inside or out, are largely taking the risk-free approach and are stating that everyone is ‘inside’. This has, in turn, meant that each assignment has received less interest by true professional interim contractors (who are used to consultancy-like assignments), and has limited the talent pool. For those that have accepted the changes, it has meant that they have to operate through an additional intermediary, such as an Umbrella company – where the contractor is forced to pay full tax and National Insurance (at 13.8%) at the source. Conversely, we have seen many contractors who have put themselves through the HMRC tool, deemed themselves as out, and have the prerogative to challenge the clients and ask at least for the due diligence that has led to their ‘inside’ decision. We have also seen a number of Housing and Charitable organisations who have managed to stipulate, quite confidently, that they are outside, and have been able to offer ‘outside’ IR35 assignments. The risk that professional interims take differs to that of a permanent member of staff. When professional interim finish an assignment there is no guarantee that they will secure the next assignment anytime soon. A contractor could quite easily see themselves out of work 2-3 months at any time whilst they look for another opportunity. A lot of interims also have their own specialist remits such as a particular system implementation, culture transformation and reviewing financial processes and procedures to name a few. Professional interims are important for all companies going through change. Change can be difficult for any organisation that is going through the transition as it means going into something new without reassurance that it is going to work for the better. A lot of projects/assignments focus around someone who has gone through this change period and perform the same project for different organisations. If every permanent member of staff stayed at their company for a year on average just to move on to another company this would cause a huge disruption in the market. One of the important factors for someone to consider permanent over interim is having that security and stability. Every person is different and in the same respect, everyone’s motivators are different. With the IR35 changes, should contractors really have to take a hit in the public sector whilst the private sector remains unaffected? For more information about this article, or to speak to Petra about your interim finance recruiting needs in London or Nationwide, contact her on 020 7269 6350 or


2021 Return To The Workplace

I revisited an article written in 2020 reflecting on what may happen to the traditional office working culture beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.  In 2020 I felt that the pandemic will eradicate the conventional office based working environment. I decided to revisit this in March 2021 by creating a poll on LinkedIn asking my network on what their employer’s plans are for post Covid-19 with regards to returning to work in an office environment. The options included: 5 days a week in the office 3-4 days a week in the office 1-2 days a week in the office Will not return to the office I would like to thank every single person who took part and voted. A total of 305 people participated, and the results have been very interesting. The overwhelming conclusion from this sample is that 50% of contributors selected that they will be returning 1-2 days a week in the office. This is a vast contrast to the 11% that chose 5 days a week back in the office. The remaining results are: 3-4 days in the office = 27% Will not return to the office = 11% It is evident from this poll that the majority (78% collectively) will only be returning to the office on a part-time basis. This is a huge shift from the traditional 5 days a week office-based environment. In my previous article I discussed that whilst the pandemic forced many businesses to work remotely, many employees found their productivity increased by working from home according to a report from Colliers. This will certainly encourage and give many employers the confidence to re-think the necessity of their office environments and closely consider the cost implications surrounding an office premise. It is widely considered that behind all these factors and why productivity may be on the rise from a remote working environment is that a high percentage of people working from home feel that it has led to a better work-life balance and this is very evident in a report released in 2020 by Ipsos MORI titled ‘Working post-COVID’. However, from this report it is very important to note that mental well-being is not much different. Mental well-being will of course be severely impacted now as we all face the challenges of lockdown, but I think key to the work environment is that many people will be missing their colleagues and the culture of their business. This is perhaps reflective on the small percentage of 11% from the poll who voted that they will not be returning to the office environment at all. Post pandemic we may see a spike in the desire for flexible workspaces with organisations like WeWork and Regus leading the way for those who may want to provide options to their staff without the severe costs of owning an office space. There are certainly still signs that we are not prepared to entirely work remotely and the return to office on a part-time basis is perhaps a healthy meet in the middle solution for many. As it stands Pro-Recruitment Group recently sent an anonymous survey around to their staff asking for their preferences on returning to work in an office environment and it is great to be an employee for an employer that are prepared to listen, be adaptable and react to the changing market. To conclude, there is no one-size-fits-all solution as some businesses will look to get rid of the traditional office environment whereas others will need it to continue and flourish. Regardless, the pandemic has provided a huge opportunity for change to the future of work which is exciting and interesting. For more information about your recruitment needs, please contact Nicholas Ogden on 020 7269 6338 or email


Should Covid Vaccinations be Mandatory Before Returning to the Office?

At the time of writing, over 24m of the UK population have already received their first COVID vaccination and Boris has pledged to all adults in the UK being offered their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of July. As a result, there is already a debate happening about whether employers can, or should, insist on employees being vaccinated. One of the knottiest questions is whether inoculations should be mandatory for staff before returning to work. Understandably, employers will see the vaccine as a means of protecting the health and safety of staff as it could help make the workplace more secure and give employees (and customers/clients) greater confidence about returning to work.  Not knowing which way the wider UK workforce would sway on the knotty question, I ran a poll to my Linkedin Network which closed at the start of March, and here is what I found. Things remain very undecided. Requiring an entire workforce to be vaccinated will be difficult to achieve from both a legal and employee relations perspective. The government is not currently introducing legislation to make the vaccination compulsory and therefore it will be for individuals to decide whether to or not to be vaccinated. The NHS is issuing ‘vaccine cards’ recording which vaccination an individual has received and reminding those receiving the vaccine to present for their second dose and medical records will, of course, record if someone has received the vaccine. However, whether the government will choose to issue vaccine passports or certificates is a difficult issue as it presents a number of novel, ethical issues.  Ongoing consultation with employees will be key to implementing any policies on Covid vaccination, and indeed on Coronavirus-related employment matters more generally. Here are a few things to bear in mind as part of this: Have an Open Approach  to Flexible Working Requests In the past, many employers were resistant to introducing flexible working for fear that it would lead to reduced productivity. With the pandemic, many employers will hopefully now have more trust in their employees and see that working from home or working flexible hours is the ‘new way of working’ and a very feasible option. It’s very likely that employers will receive a high number of flexible working requests when things return to “normal” so it would be sensible to consider how they might deal with these. Bear in mind that, given many employees have worked from home for the best part of a year, employers probably won’t be able to rely on blanket arguments that “home working doesn’t work” to turn down a request. At Pro, we’ve seen productivity increase, relationships are work are now even tighter as we continue to speak with our colleagues daily on Microsoft Teams. Counter any Misinformation Many employees may be sceptical of the vaccine, we live in an age where social media can cause misinformed judgements, so it’s important to make sure you, as an employer, are kept up-to-date with the correct information provided by the NHS and advise that your teams refer back to local GP who would be much better placed at providing information which may be sensitive to discuss in the workplace. Future Business Planning Consulting with your teams and colleagues should always be seen as a valuable opportunity. A discussion about appetite or concerns for the vaccine is naturally linked to questions about returning to normality and future work patterns. What do employees like about “the new normal” that they want to keep? Consider whether you want to return to the workplace as before, or whether this is a time to reimagine office life and adjust working practices and use of space as a result?  At Pro, we continue to build our future based on the opinions of our teams, using surveys and providing open forums for your teams to share opinions will build trust and develop a future of happy, retained, and ambitious employees who want to succeed with the growth of your business. So to conclude, employees and employers are very split in and amongst the debate of “Should COVID vaccines be mandatory before returning to the office? “ but it is certainly sensible to start thinking about what approach you might take, remembering that continued consultation with your teams will be key. If you would like more advice about returning to the office or the new working landscape, please do get in touch. I'd love to hear your thoughts, you can contact me on 020 7269 6351 or


International Women's Day 2021 - We Choose to Challenge

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated each year on March 8th. It is a day marked to celebrate the “social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women” and “a call to action for accelerating gender parity”. This year, the focus is on choosing to challenge gender stereotypes and support equality. Figures from the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) employment trends survey  in 2019 show 93% of businesses are taking action to close the gender pay gap and increase diversity in their workforces, compared with 62% who were asked a similar question in 2017. Companies recognise the business case for building a diverse workforce – innovation, candidate & client attraction, & ultimately higher return or profits. Many candidates are putting more pressure on companies to show they are pushing diversity and gender equality – with two-thirds of women taking a company’s gender pay gap into consideration, according to research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. But businesses are also facing a real skill set problem, said Matthew Percival, the Head of Employment at the CBI. As an employer, we are committed to ensuring representation of people from all backgrounds regardless of their gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, age, neurodiversity, disability status, or any other aspect which makes them unique. We are proud to be sharing an inclusive working environment where our staff are equally male:female split and we celebrate an equally split Board. Almost a third (30%) of recruitment firms have less than 5% female leaders at board level and another third (32%), only have between 21-50%. With my recent appointment to MD (following my return from Maternity Leave), promoting Claire Stradling as Director on our Board, and 50:50 male:female management team, it’s our responsibility as recruiters to pave the way for a more diverse recruitment landscape. As your recruiting partner we choose to challenge gender stereotypes, we are committed to fair, open and honest recruitment processes. The pandemic has put a lot of things into perspective for some organisations, with the change in working landscape and the wider pool of openly available candidates, the recruitment gaps are slowly decreasing. As a candidate, here’s what you can expect from us: Encouragement to present yourself as yourself We welcome applicants from all backgrounds to apply and would encourage you to let us know if there are steps we can take to ensure that your recruitment process enables you to present yourself in a way that makes you comfortable. The Harvard Business Review (HBR)  reported that women are rated as being more effective leaders than men during the COVID-19 crisis, with 57.2% of respondents in a survey saying women ranked positively in overall leadership effectiveness ratings, compared with 51.5% for men. That’s not to say anyone is superior because of gender, that’s why we have good male and female representation on the Board here at Pro-Group. Fair hiring and interviewing processes In our HBR’s Language Matters Report, they found that 44% of women would be discouraged from applying to a job if the description included the word “aggressive.” Our consultants are trained with an understanding to use neutral language to encourage the best candidates and represent you for you. We will speak to you to understand your needs before submitting your CV to a client. This gives us a chance to meet you, talk through your CV in more detail, and get to know a little more about you – your strengths, areas for development, and so on.  CVs and CV writing CV Writing support is offered from the get go, you will receive support and preparation from your expert consultant, every step of the way throughout your recruitment journey.. You’ve probably heard the following statistic: Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. We encourage you to explore your skills and will give you the confidence you need to reach your career potential. Not only that, but we also put your CV into our standardised format before sending your details to any of our clients, It’s our duty as your recruiter to eliminate any form of prejudice and make the process fairer by standardising all candidate information. Feedback from interviews Nearly a third (30%) of young women do not get feedback after a job interview, compared to less than a fifth (18%) of male applicants, according to research from the City & Guilds Group and Business in the Community (BITC). After your interview with our client, we will seek out feedback, and feed this back to you constructively. If you’ve been successful in securing the job, great! If not, we’ll aim to help you to understand where your skills are better aligned to suit you with the best organisation for your needs. The pandemic may have exposed some of the imbalances that have existed in the system for a long time, and we need to continue the conversation even after the pandemic is over and we will support you every step of the way through your recruitment journey with us. For advice or for a more detailed discussion with Alison about her experience, email or call on 07852 249 421


Can Community Fundraising Capitalise on the Public’s Interest in their Local Community?

Last summer, I wrote an article reflecting on the first national lockdown due to COVID-19 and discussed the impacts that the pandemic was having on fundraising for the voluntary sector. Take a look here. In 2020 I felt that the initial lockdown and self-isolation enabled people to think about vulnerable people and causes in their communities. In turn, I hoped that this awareness and spirit would continue post COVID-19 to benefit the voluntary sector. Looking at this in March 2021 and although we are not post the COVID-19 pandemic yet, it would appear that this community mindset is becoming more apparent. According to research recently released by The National Lottery Community Fund the pandemic has helped to reignite people’s interest in their local community with three in ten (30%) planning to get more involved in 2021. The same research showed that across the UK almost seven in ten people (69%) feel like they are a part of their local community, with about a third acknowledging that COVID has increased their sense of belonging (35%). I think that because many organisations have had to shift their office culture to remote working to adhere to Government guidelines this has really helped people to recognise and appreciate their health, surroundings, and local community. The research really demonstrates the growing rise of attention to community wellbeing for 2021. This is hopefully positive news for local charities as well as community fundraising which has arguably been one of the hardest hit forms of fundraising during the pandemic due to a high proportion of community fundraising relying on events as a large source of income. I very much hope we continue to build on this community support mindset and that many worthwhile charities are able to capitalise and benefit. As it stands, Pro-Marketing of Pro-Recruitment Group is currently representing some fantastic community fundraisers all with excellent community fundraising strategy backgrounds and some are immediately available. For further information on this article or the above Community Fundraising professionals, please contact Nicholas Ogden on 020 7269 6338 or email


Philanthropy Fundraising is on the Rise in the UK

It has been nearly 11-months since the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a televised address that brought in widespread lockdown measures on the 23rd of March 2020 and it is very apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic has of course provided lots of challenges and has changed and adapted the UK fundraising market.  For example, Trust Fundraisers will have had very different experiences over the past 11 months to those who work in public fundraising. Community and events teams have had to speed up the digitalisation of their culture and fundraising. It has also been interesting to see the rise and enormous opportunity for the UK to become a global centre of excellence for philanthropists and social investors.   A new report has been introduced for the UK Government, HMRC, the Charity Commission and civil society to take action now to position the UK as a leader for international philanthropy and social investment. The report, The UK as a Centre of Excellence for International Philanthropists and Social Investors, is by the Beacon Collaborative, supported by City Bridge Trust (the City of London Corporation’s charity funder) and EY. The report is based on research (including international) and shows the UK to hold strengths as a strategic base for social investors and global philanthropists.   Cath Dovey, report author and Co-Founder of Beacon Collaborative, comments: ‘Both Brexit and Covid-19 have caused challenges and uncertainty, but have also highlighted the importance of global collaboration to tackle global issues. We think that more overseas donors could be encouraged to set up foundations in the UK, supporting international needs as well as supporting UK charities and causes.’   UK charities have already demonstrated fantastic resilience during this pandemic and have been adaptable and have managed to continue moving forward by modernising their technical resources and it will be interesting to see how the market responds to this research and the opportunity for philanthropy. As it stands, Pro-Marketing has seen an increase in demand for philanthropy focused requirements in 2021 and as such are currently representing some brilliant individuals all with excellent reputations and some are immediately available.  For further information on this article or the above Philanthropy professionals, please contact Nicholas Ogden on 020 7269 6338 or email


The Rise of Interim and Consultancy Recruitment

According to ONS, there are currently over 1.4million temporary, interim or contract workers in the UK. Firms are now looking to hire temporary, interim and consultancy workers as business activity recovers.  Growth in Demand Short term demand for staff to complete operational tasks has been high and we’ve found organisations are more likely to hire interim and consultancy workers than permanent staff over the next six months as the demand for agency workers over the next year is likely to remain high. According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s latest Jobs Outlook report, Temporary staff are becoming increasingly important to businesses as they try to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In times of uncertainty, interim and consultancy work can be a real asset to both employers and workers – it allows firms to create jobs when the future outlook is unclear, and gives people a chance to get back into work, earn money quickly, and progress into a permanent position. REC research shows that interim and consultancy work is not only important for employers, but for workers as well. Two in five (39%) people in Britain have done temporary, contract or freelance work during their lives, and the majority do this by choice. One in three (36%) chose to do this to find work quickly, while three in ten (28%) used temporary work to earn money quickly. Many also use temporary work as a stepping stone and progress into permanent positions – two in three (68%) of those who have done interim and consultancy work in the past are now in a permanent role. An equally important incentive driving the number of interim and consultancy workers is the opportunity for organisations to ‘try before they buy’. In other words, rather than spending weeks or even months on the hiring process to later discover that the employee is not the right fit for the company, UK firms are hiring temp workers to evaluate the workers’ performance, attitude to work and their overall suitability for the role in question, without the financial burden of a permanent job offer. This proves equally beneficial for temp workers who can assess the company and job role before they decide whether the job is right for them. Join Us Here at Pro-Group, we have a strong Interim and Contract offering, and looking to build and develop our offering. We have long-standing relationships with companies across our key sectors - Tax, Finance, HR and Marketing, Communications and Fundraising - and the interim and consultancy market is stronger than ever.  You will be joining a passionate and diverse team who work closely together to ensure they can deliver results and act as an extension to the client’s own recruitment processes.   Our story is simple, “We want to establish a company that truly valued, respected and looked after its employees. After all, not only are we in a ‘people’ industry, but we strongly believe that happy employees make for a successful company. Our staff are our number one asset!” - Pat Keogh, Chairman at Pro-Group.   Autonomous recruiting brings big rewards If you’re looking to take control of your own work, or if you are an experienced recruiter looking to start in a new sector then we can offer you the opportunity to really put your own stamp on the role and business as a whole. We do not demand pointless and unachievable KPIs but work with you as an individual to set personalised objectives and the ability to manage your workload and desk in a way that works for you.  We offer a market leading commissionsion structure, it’s rewarded to you quarterly, offering you the opportunity to earn up to 40% of your billings with plenty of fantastic benefits to suit, including mortgage savings schemes, private medical insurance as well as training and a market-leading technology suite to help you achieve.  As an SME, the management structure is flat which is very different to what I am used to having worked for larger organisations, but I see this as a massive benefit. Your voice is heard, listened to and the owners sit on the floor with you. I have also seen massive and progressive changes in Pro-Group in my few years with the company. If I need a new job-board - no problem as long as I can show a business case for it. Want to set up a new division? Again no problem, just present a business case and you will be backed. No red tape or layers of management to convince. If you have a vision and plan, it will be backed. How we’re adapting to the Pandemic Due to Covid19, every employee at Pro-Group is working 100% remotely, and we have ensured that they have the equipment and IT infrastructure and systems to be able to do this.   We are adapting quickly and in response to Government Guidelines and our main priority is to keep all of our employees safe and well. At the moment we are not sure when (or even if) there will be a full return to the office and are regularly reviewing the guidelines, taking feedback from our employees and have fully embraced a true flexible working approach.  We are able to interview virtually and for new joiners to Pro-Group, we have implemented a remote onboarding process to ensure a smooth transition to join the Pro-Family. If you are interested and would like to find out more about joining Pro-Group, please do get in touch. Let’s have an informal discrete discussion, you can contact me on 020 7269 6351 or


CTA Results: The Effect of a Global Pandemic?

The May 2020 examinations for CTA were held in June and July as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CIOT accelerated the introduction of online exams to allow those who had been preparing for the Application and Professional Skills paper (APS) to still do so. This was done be a remote invigilated system. The rest were sadly cancelled.  During an extremely uncertain time, a total of 291 people sat the exam and of which 64 individuals successfully passed and were eligible for membership to the institute. It was commented by Glyn Fullelove, The Institute President, that “the technology used was new to CIOT” and they know “it brought its own challenges to some candidates”. As a result, all those unsuccessful at this sitting were offered free entry for APS in either November 2020 or May 2021’s sittings.  Thursday 28th January 2021 marked a highly anticipated day for those who were awaiting their results from the November 2020 sitting. It was announced that 1,396 people took the exams and that 313 of which had been successful in completing all exams for membership (included in this were those who were studying for ATT/CTA and ACA/CTA joint pathways).  Given the cancellations May, it was only fair to compare the most recent results to those of November 2019, taken by 1,528 candidates. As follows is a breakdown and comparison of these results by examination: Advanced Technical – November 2020 Paper Total sitting exam Candidates passed Pass rate Taxation of Owner-Managed Businesses 872 365 42% Domestic Indirect Taxation 93 32 34% Inheritance Tax, Trusts and Estates 139 68 49% Human Capital Taxes 66 11 17% Taxation of Individuals 612 358 58% Cross-border Indirect Taxation 46 26 57% Taxation of Major Corporates 298 176 59% Advanced Technical – November 2019 Paper Total sitting exam Candidates passed Pass rate Taxation of Owner-Managed Businesses 697 264 38% Domestic Indirect Taxation 57 15 26% Inheritance Tax, Trusts and Estates 93 42 45% Human Capital Taxes 42 22 52% Taxation of Individuals 435 222 51% Cross-border Indirect Taxation 58 35 60% Taxation of Major Corporates 258 162 63% Awareness – November 2020 181 candidates passed this paper out of a total of 275 sitting the examination. A pass rate of 66%. Awareness – November 2019  152 candidates passed this paper out of a total of 228 sitting the examination. A pass rate of 67% Application and Professional Skills – November 2020 Paper Total sitting exam Candidates passed Pass rate Taxation of Individuals 72 36 50% Taxation of Larger Companies and Groups 77 34 44% Taxation of Owner-Managed Businesses 212 104 49% Human Capital Taxes 31 12 39% VAT & Other Indirect Taxes 16 7 44% Inheritance Tax, Trust & Estates 40 22 55% Application and Professional Skills – November 2019 Paper Total sitting exam Candidates passed Pass rate Taxation of Individuals 52 32 62% Taxation of Larger Companies and Groups 53 27 51% Taxation of Owner-Managed Businesses 216 119 55% Human Capital Taxes 27 14 52% VAT & Other Indirect Taxes 17 11 65% Inheritance Tax, Trust & Estates 47 25 53% In summary, highlighted in green are those that saw an increase in pass rate, whereas those highlighted in red saw a decrease. Bearing in mind the past year, the notable difference is the climate the exams were taken in. However, it was fantastic to see that several of the advanced technical papers saw an increase in pass rate. This is a period of change and pass rates are envisaged to increase as people get more used to online examinations. Pro-Tax would like to extend their congratulations to those that received the exam results they were hoping for, it is a fantastic achievement. If you need career advice around next steps after CTA or salary advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch. For those that did not get the results they were hoping for, please do not worry. These exams are not easy in any normal circumstance. This is a perfect time to reflect, dust yourself off and get ready to smash the exams next time round! If you are not receiving the support you need for your qualification, we are also here to help. For more information on this article or for help with the next steps in your tax career after your CTA results, contact Dominic Watt on 020 7269 6310 or


Newly qualified CTA: 5 Tips to Improve Your Job Search

So, you’ve passed your CTA – congratulations! Whether it’s today, tomorrow or any working day onwards, at some point you'll be thinking about your current role, developmental goals and career aspirations. But from the newly qualified to the Head of Tax level, new challenges continually present themselves, not only in the nature of the role undertaken, but also in your efforts to get to the next step. So now you’ve got the CTA under your belt, here are our top tips to help direct your search and steer-clear of the common shortfalls. 1 -  Identify The Breadth Of Skills Needed For In-House Tax 2 - Consider The Best Time To Move In-House 3 - Timing: Plan Your Job Search And Start Date 4 - Don’t Focus Too Much On The CTA In-House Starting Salary 5 - Stay On Good Terms With Your Contacts In Practice 1 -  Identify The Breadth Of Skills Needed For In-House Tax As covered by various senior figures in our “60 seconds with…” series, an increasing challenge for the in-house tax professional involves diversifying their taxation remit and upskilling with business-specific systems to partner more effectively with the business. Though factors such as the industry and team size you sit in will influence the areas you can get involved in, you just can’t go far wrong by pushing yourself to learn more. An interesting insight shared in a “60 seconds with…” (to be published in our next newsletter) explains that in light of increasing digitisation, AI tech, and automation, a challenge for the in-house tax consultant of tomorrow is to understand compliance & returns well enough to be able to advise adequately. The breadth of skills you can bring to the table should especially be a consideration for those considering a move in-house from large professional practices. In a Big 4 Corporate Tax team for instance, your tax area will likely be specialised, but also rather narrow and siloed from other areas of tax. The balancing trick (and a challenge facing the future of the in-house tax professional), is to make the most of your specialism, while keeping your CV fluid enough to appeal to smaller teams and get involved in multiple areas of tax. Bottom line: the importance of seeking a breadth of taxation skill, while staying true to your specialism and learning to partner with various business functions cannot be understated. 2 - Consider The Best Time To Move In-House Tax is a candidate-scarce market at the junior level – capitalise upon this opportunity while you can. The rhetoric often passed around in practice is to wait until at least Manager/Senior Manager before making the move in-house. The common suspects to justify this reasoning is that you will find a relative ‘lack of progression’ and ‘compliance-focused roles’ in-house at the junior level. However, what gets mentioned much less often is the benefit to your current firm, if you are to move in-house at a more senior level. That is to say, moving in-house once at Senior Manager level usually means you will have more discretion over outsourced spending, which ultimately benefits the partner’s pocket. With in-house searches, our clients looking for a Manager from the Big 4 are often flexible to seriously consider an Assistant Manager, or Senior Associate for the exact same post. The reason for this comes down to candidate-scarcity. There is a shortage of CTAs/ACAs. If you’re set on making the move in-house at some point, the candidate-scarcity at the newly qualified level provides you with a real opportunity to make a noticeable progression-jump, while still having the same developmental support and guidance systems in place for making that first transition in-house. Making the first step in-house becomes much more difficult at the Senior Manager level upwards, for three interdependent reasons: Once the business development responsibilities take hold at Senior Manager/Director level, will you want to walk away from this book of business and the relationships you have built? Would it not be better to gain in-house at the recently qualified level, and then perhaps return to practice as a Senior Manager, focusing on business development from there?  - The pyramid hierarchy of most companies dictate less positions exist.  - There are considerably more senior-level applicants than those at the more junior level. ​ - At the senior level, those already with in-house experience are invariably favoured. Bottom line: If your heart lies with the move in-house, stay in practice long enough to get what you need from it, but not long enough to get too comfortable. You will have much more options ran past you at the Assistant Manager/Manager level, rather than at the Senior Manager/Director level, with the latter serving as a bottleneck for those who ultimately never make the move. If you get to Senior Manager level, it’s a good idea to get some in-house secondment experience under your belt. 3 - Timing: Plan Your Job Search And Start Date The time when you decide to actually start looking at options in-house has a heavily understated influence on career progression. For the person who hasn’t planned ahead, the cues which prompt them into feeling ‘ready to look’ coincide with the markers they are actually ‘ready to move’. Here are the time-based factors which are overlooked: - The time of year. Things quieten down particularly in the holiday seasons. Are you confident that choosing to look in the summer, winter or Easter holidays will lead you to having enough options to look through? It might be the case you are on the market for a month before you find something suitable to even apply for. - The time spent on an interview process (or several processes). At the newly qualified level, we’ve placed candidates within a week, a fortnight and sometimes it can take a month or more, depending on the time of year and the process in question. - The length of your notice period. Surprisingly, this is the big one which nobody seems to plan ahead for. If you’re making the first move from practice and your notice period is project-status dependent, it might be the case that you’re able to negotiate your notice period way down a little – but be ready for this. Together, you might be looking at around a 4-6-month gap from the point when you are ‘ready to look’ versus ready to ‘move’. Imagine you move just three times in the next 10 years, and each time fail to start looking 4-6-month months prior to when you feel ready to move. If in 10 years you are applying at the Head of Tax level, you’ll likely be competing with a seemingly super-progressive candidate who have managed to progress through the ranks two years faster, due to no more merit than career planning alone. Bottom line: Distinguish between ‘ready to look’ and ‘ready to move’, and plan for those delay months well in advance. Know the shelf-life for your role, and then minus your notice period from your time spent ‘looking’, alongside the time you anticipate needing to find the right role and progress through processes. 4 - Don’t Focus Too Much On The CTA In-House Starting Salary Money will advance the cash in your pocket for today – but not necessarily your career for tomorrow. Becoming a newly qualified CTA opens career doors, and it’s an exciting time to see the options available to you jump in salary banding. Take this bluntly from a recruiter: I am rewarded as a proportion of your remuneration, and so it wouldn’t make sense for me to advise that you settle for anything less than the market rate. But even in the financial services markets (where the remuneration is usually higher than other in-house roles), too many just fall into the honeytrap of prioritising monetary gain in the short-term, and often at the cost of longer-term limitations. Negotiating a high salary at the newly qualified level might not help your incremental gains later. We’re in an age of gender pay-gap disputes and equality acts, and so there is a decreasing emphasis incremental pay-raises (e.g. the old-fashioned thinking of 10% salary increases). The reasoning here is that basing new salaries on the old simply exacerbates existing pay inequalities (watch this space). The times are moving, and salaries are now becoming increasingly based on market-demand for the candidate skillset offering (and rightly so). In 10 years time, when you are applying at the Head of Tax level (where the salaries can really jump up) – you won’t be chosen because of your sky-high financial requirement. You’ll be chosen for your business-case offering and what skills you can bring to the table. Bottom-line: speak to a recruiter you trust about the market-rate salary and know your bottom-line number for the right opportunity. From that starting point, try to prioritise everything non-salary related. If the role, company and career-route is right for you, the money will follow. 5 - Stay On Good Terms With Your Contacts In Practice Life is a village… and in London, Financial Services tax is a very small village indeed Tax is an incredibly small market and your effort to be nice to people should be twofold. Firstly, when you make the move in-house, make an active effort to stay on good terms with your contacts in practice. I’ve hired for some truly impressive heads of tax and have been repeatedly surprised to observe the differences in their ‘recruitability’, based on nothing other than reputation and contacts in practice. While one Global Head of Tax struggled to onboard anyone because they had a reputation for overworking their external advisors, the other would have a heap of support. I’m talking (free) Big 4 workshops, invites to key speaker events, ‘Heads of’ social gatherings and active contacts sending them transfer pricing juniors who were not looking, but came attached with glowing recommendations. Second, be nice to those pesky recruiters who buzz your phone to the point of combustion. Yes, while it might get irritating being hit-up repeatedly by those who would like to greet your shiny new CTA qualification with the job specification you’ve seen umpteen times, make the effort to be nice. When we headhunt seniors at the Head of Tax level, they are always friendly – in part because they don’t get called with options all-too-often. In the recruitment industry, the turnover of staff is very high, and the likelihood is that 99.9% of the recruiters you speak to won’t be in this market in 10 years. However, it will be the .01% who really matter. It will be this recruiter who remembers names from past conversations the best, knows your entire network and will have an abundance of ‘Heads of’ contacts who they can choose to approach or not. It will be this recruiter who the CFO asks for their opinion on your candidacy and standing. Bottom line: honour your commitments made to your network and be careful to protect your reputation. Your name in the industry says more than what you could write on a CV or job spec. For further advice about your job search in financial services tax, or if looking to make a move in-house, contact  Jay Sky, Pro-Tax’s financial services recruitment specialist at or call 020 7269 6343


Using a Recruiter to Your Advantage

Whatever stage you are at in your career, whether you are Tax Trainee or Tax Partner, having the right people help you in your corner when looking for a new role can be instrumental to the success of your career. The right consultant can help you with every aspect of your job search, and there are key points which can make your journey with a recruiter beneficial and effective. Most important, however, is ensuring you choose a reliable and credible recruiter and make the most out of the relationship. Having been in the recruitment industry for a number of years now, I do know that there is often a certain notoriety when it comes to the recruitment industry (which is sometimes fair). Scrolling through LinkedIn usually tells a very sinister story! Undoubtedly there are always some shocking stories out there (and believe me I have heard a few!) but there are also firms and recruitment consultants who can really make your job search a positive experience, and there are things you can do as a candidate to make using a recruiter work for you. 1) Transparency On occasion, candidates will be very reluctant to divulge certain information that is essential to help them. Think about it, you are asking for a recruiter to approach people in your industry and represent you as the best candidate possible. We're going to be intrusive, want to know every last detail about your career and your requirements. How else do you expect us to represent you in the best possible light to prospective employers without this information and to ensure we approach relevant firms? This is your career we are talking about and to support you I need to know as much as possible. 2) Think of where we add value Fundamentally we're here to provide a service to you. We help to make you better at applying to jobs. This is a crucial message I try to deliver as a recruiter when I talk to any candidate. For example, some of the key areas where I can add significant value to your job process are: Market Expertise – Working across a specialised marketplace, I can give you inside knowledge on what the market has to offer from an employment perspective. Who pays best? Who offers most flexibility? Where are you going to reach your career pinnacle?   Managing Processes – I'm able to manage all your applications and your diary for interviews whilst ensuring you have one point of contact, processing everything in one call rather than five. This saves you a huge amount of time and makes sure distractions to your current working commitments are kept to a minimum. Negotiations – Negotiating can be difficult and stressful, especially when it's your personal finances at stake and when you don’t know who you're negotiating with. As a recruiter, I can manage this on your behalf. We use our relationships with the employer to your advantage to get you the best possible outcome, removing all unnecessary stress. 3) Exclusivity I'm confident that anyone reading this has their own “nightmare recruiter story” and will, in a number of cases, have used a number of agencies rather than one. Exclusivity is, in my view, the best approach. Having said that, don’t just pick anyone, believe it or not, we are not all the same! Exclusivity prevents duplicate applications, prevents multiple phone calls and prevents the “tug of war” scenario where you don’t know who to believe when considering multiple options. I’ve been there myself, I know it’s an absolute nightmare but learning that lesson could well be costly career-wise! But the major benefit in my mind is that if you choose the right recruiter for you, it will absolutey save you time, effort and stress as they can manage your search for you. We will keep you abreast of where each application is at, feedback and advice. You will not be speaking to multiple consultants. You are busy enough, let us take the stress away from you.   4) Find out about your recruiter You are going to enter into a world full of different people, offering conflicting approaches and contrasting methods of finding you your next job. Yet when I speak to candidates for the first time, it’s very rare they ask questions about myself or my firm. Ask your recruiter questions, find out what they have to offer, how they intend to approach the market, what their opinion is. That initial phone call is essential to assessing the credibility, competence and talent of the person you're entrusting your professional future with! Form a job search strategy with them, see if they understand what you're looking for and be selective in who you work with. A good recruiter will instil confidence that they are the best person to help you with your next career move. Make sure you assess them thoroughly!   5) Make sure that they have an action plan for you. Here at Pro-Tax we will do things the right way, in that after our call we will send you a copy of our action plan, live roles we are sending your CV to, clients we will approaching. It is so important (in this day and age with GDPR) to have full control of you CV/profile and where it ends up. We will not send you CV without your permission, that is important for you in this candidate tight market. Summary These are just some key points that I know from experience, on both sides of the fence, has helped make a candidate journey with a recruiter effective and beneficial rather than disastrous and damaging. The fundamental theme comes down to trust, respect and honesty between all concerned. This is the fundamental starting to point to any successful business relationship, isn’t it? There are poor recruiters in our industry but tell me an industry that doesn’t have bad people/firms operating within it? Take the provisions from the start, complete you due-diligence to make sure you work with the good recruiters and receive the best service from them! I hope that has helped, for advice on your CV and to discuss the tax market in general. Please feel free to reach out at or call 020 7269 6321 or any of the Pro-Tax consultants.


Market Update from Pro-Group: Pat Keogh - Chairman January 2021

Hello, a quick update on the recruitment market from me, Pat Keogh, Chairman of the Pro-Recruitment Group. January 2021 We've been asked recently by a number of candidates "What's the state of the Market like?", and if you know us, we cover the Tax, Legal, Finance, Marketing & HR sectors. All five sectors are really strong, and we've been really pleased with the number of new vacancies registered by the organisations we work with. Surprisingly, 2020 was a very good year for a number of our clients, especially the professional services firms, law firms and accountancy firms. Even a lot of our Not-For-Profit sectors and tax commerce and industry surprisingly had a really good year. And that's been reflected by their levels of recruitment. We have a large number of vacancies we are looking to fill. It's really a character of the market, and that might be a surprise to a lot of people, but candidates and those now looking for new opportunities now have a really good choice of roles out there, clients are really keen to recruit and some have really aggressive growth plans. Many organisations are seeing this time as a good opportunity to grow their business and grow their headcount. If you are looking and considering moving, it's definitely worth exploring the market. Do call us, do explore our website and you will be really surprised to see the number of vacancies out there. Come and speak to us. We will give you good solid advice. We will always give you the best advice as to your career options. Ot's definitely a good market, so definitely give one of our team a call.


60 Seconds with: Orla Ralston, European Tax MD at OMERS

Orla Ralston is the European Tax MD at OMERS, one of Canada's largest defined benefit pension plans. Orla speaks with Jay Sky, Senior Consultant at Pro-Tax about life at OMERS, her impressive career and the opportunities which have surfaced in the face of the pandemic. Who is OMERS and what does the tax team look like?  We are a Canadian pension plan, serving over 500,000 pensioners based in Ontario that represent the retired employees of about 1000 municipalities such as school boards, libraries, police and fire departments. Part of what we do is to make investments that fund sustainable, meaningful pensions over the long term. Our asset classes include infrastructure, private equity (including ventures), real estate and capital markets.  Our tax team is truly global and covers a wide range of activity. The Global Head of Tax is based in Toronto and our team is divided across the Americas, Europe and APAC and by function: investment tax; tax for the enterprise; and, tax compliance. Of course, none of these areas are mutually exclusive, so inevitably there is a lot of collaboration across the regional and functional teams.  What does your role as MD of Investment Tax include, and what leadership roles do you play? I support our European businesses from a tax perspective on their investments – so I oversee European and UK-based tax professionals who focus on infrastructure, PE, real estate and associated European-wide issues. I also have a broader leadership role within the infrastructure business (beyond tax alone). One of the great things about OMERS is that we recognise each of us has something to offer. In my case, I have always believed that to do well in tax, you really need to engage with the investment team and understand their strategy, drivers, and the commercial rationale behind everything they do. This line of thinking has allowed me to bring another dimension to the leadership team and an element of influence across the London office. You have had an impressive career to date, having held positions in a Magic Circle law firm and a top tier investment bank. How would you compare life at OMERS to these earlier experiences? I joined Slaughter and May as a qualified Solicitor and learned my craft in practice. This involved learning the technical aspects of tax law while working on many different types of transactions, acting for multiple clients. I applied that experience in-house later when I worked at Goldman Sachs, and here - while I had the opportunity to make this role my own -  there was already an established tax team  within which I was able to develop my own  role Although my initial role at GS was to support the real estate investment business (part of the Merchant Banking Division), I saw gaps and opportunities to support a newly created infrastructure business, and then, more latterly, their private equity and debt funds. This was a great experience and how I discovered and learned what it is to be an in-house tax lawyer, and, in particular, how to be commercial in that role. After more than 11 years at GS I had seen a lot of deal activity and was able to bring that experience to OMERS. When I joined OMERS, I was the first European tax team member (in Infrastructure & PE). What I continue to enjoy is the level of integration into the deal teams and the opportunity to have a broader role; understanding and working with the businesses strategically, not purely from a tax perspective.  What made you join OMERS initially, and what might be surprising about the way the business operates? I had not been looking to leave my previous role at GS but OMERS clearly did something to convince me! First and foremost, it was the people. The calibre, intellect and friendliness of everyone I met at OMERS was appealing. Second the ‘pension promise’ was (and still is) a big draw for me. I loved every minute of my career before OMERS too – but knowing that your efforts enable people to retire with a decent pension is of massive importance, and I’m able to be a part of that.  Pension funds might sometimes be considered less active but OMERS has always been and continues to be very active with direct investment and a focus on asset management and value creation at the core of its investment strategy. The degree of sophistication at OMERS allows us to be very hands-on, which always keeps things interesting. How would you describe OMERS’ approach to diversity and inclusiveness? We have always been proactive in this area. There are several employee resource groups at OMERS, but we see diversity in so many other ways too. In London, what I love is that you will hear countless languages around the office; we have a truly global team. We also sponsor events and initiatives which facilitate social change: in 2020 for example our CFO led an event for International Coming Out Day in partnership with OTPP and CIBC, and from London we were joined by Aisha Thomas, Founder of Representation Matters Ltd, for an event for Black History Month - both of these were very powerful. Inevitably, this conversation is a continuing one, but there is certainly a healthy dialogue on this. What has the response to coronavirus been like at OMERS, and what opportunities have surfaced? Our leadership has been very decisive and provided clear direction from the start. First and foremost, the priority was to keep our people safe, and we’ve seen that throughout all levels of the organisation – supported by a lot of communication from our CEO with whom I feel more connected perhaps than ever before. Our IT team enabled a seamless transition to work from home literally overnight, which has allowed among other things a level playing field in terms of connectivity – we’re all in a box on a screen. We have the same means to interact, whether we’re on different sides of the same globe, or different sides of the same office. We can’t replace the human element of interaction of course, but we can do the virtual interactions well and keep a transparent and proactive approach. Now we are reaching out to our people for their views on how we can continue what have been some of the more positive aspects of these changes.  OMERS has a strong record of employee retention. What is it that motivates people to come to work each day? I think the pension promise has a lot to do with this – it’s not something we sit and talk about all day long, but there is this feeling of a common goal between us. In the tax team at OMERS, no two days are the same – there is just so much variety in what we do. Having just 4 of us in Europe means we cover a real breadth between us. We also have real autonomy and ownership. The organisation encourages an almost entrepreneurial attitude: ‘if you see something that makes sense to do, then go ahead and do it, show us why it makes sense’. You mentioned that perhaps one of the greatest assets at OMERS are the people – but also that this group is very diverse. So which type of person will fit into that team best? We encourage the mentality that nobody should underestimate what they can achieve and should not put themselves into a box. We are a team of people who want to make a difference – and while doing so, you can learn so much about investing, our assets, our portfolio. We invest in significant companies which matter in tangible terms – often providing essential services. That’s the joy of infrastructure for me personally. If you are curious, industrious and want to be part of a group who like working and having fun together, you might be a good fit for our team.  For more information on this article, contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


Diary of My Month - 100k Running Challenge

'What a year it's been?!' has probably been the most uttered phrase of the last 3 months...but in all seriousness what a year it has been and what a profound effect the last 10 months have had on our mental health.  When the news landed on the 21st October 2020 that the nation would be heading into a second lockdown, at Pro-Recruitment our hearts sank. Determined not to downward spiral, we discussed as an organisation what we could do collectively to give us focus and to help our mental wellbeing. Ever the courtroom jester, our Director Kevin Racher suggested we each try and run 100k throughout lockdown 2.0. Shockingly the hands slowly but surely started to go up in favour of this (completely ludicrous) idea, after all 100k wouldn't be so bad over 4 weeks right? The challenge was given even greater purpose by the suggestion we do it in aid of our corporate charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), and see if we could raise 'a couple of hundred quid maybe?' All of a sudden things got very real... On the 5th November, 9 of us; myself, Rebecca English, Maisie Horrell, Kevin Racher, Ashleigh Polakiewicz, Dominic Watt, Chris Davey, Tom Eagle and George Tatnell set off on our own personal challenge and collective mindset - all differing in ages, backgrounds, locations and running abilities! Having had my first child earlier this year I wasn't too sure how much more of a battering my poor postpartum body could take!  Week 1 This went surprisingly well with lots of encouragement and some frankly terrifying 'motivational' videos from George Tatnell... we were getting into the spirit of it!  Some of us were seasoned runners, whilst others took on this huge personal goal (Maisie Horrell even took her family out running with her) and we all spurred each other on and achieved some really good distances in the first week. Week 2 The mood began to change. The mountain we were all climbing became VERY real and that 100k mark seemed so far away! We continued to share motivating messages, pictures and video updates spurring each other on. We gained a new appreciation for the areas we lived in, Ashleigh Polakiewicz witnessing the sun rise on a sleepy Canary Wharf was breath-taking.  Me running past a herd of muntjac deer who looked on curiously in a local woodland I never knew existed! Bex discovering mud, stiles and yet more mud aren't the best running companions. There were moments when as fatigue started to seriously set in, we all started to question why we had committed to this. STILL the donations were pouring in as were the incredible messages from our supporters urging us to 'just keep going'! Week 3  Disaster hit! One of our experienced runners Rebecca English suffered an injury announcing she may not get to finish (she ended on 106.7km! With the help of Margeaux her beautiful canine running buddy). Our little Aussie sprinter Ashleigh Polakiewicz suffered a knee injury and Kevin Racher...well...continued to complain he was 'too old for this'. With others having to scale back their distances for a short period the rest of the team picked up their game to make up! Luckily Tom Eagle was on hand to offer some 'carb loading advice' from his trips to the golden arches. Week 4  The finish line was in sight! Our South African powerhouse Chris Davey, breezed over his 100k finish with a mere 25km run to end! Despite her injury Rebecca English pushed through, completing her last run in a seriously speedy time.  Kevin Racher smashed through his target whilst very nearly getting hit by a van and continuing to complain he was still 'too old for this'. Being a competitive bunch the rest of us pushed on, and whether we ran, limped or crawled we got over our finish lines!  During those 4 weeks we all learnt a little bit more about each other, and as determined as we were individually to smash our targets, we all rediscovered the importance of checking in on each other as a group to see how we were feeling, picking each other up when needed. CALM is such a frighteningly relevant charity to 2020, and sadly they've been busier than ever. Our challenge raised £876 which will go such a long way to helping reduce the number of suicides in the UK, so thank you to all our supporters for your incredibly generous donations. To the Pro 100k club I am so proud of you all! What's the next challenge then? What have you been doing during the recent lockdown? Send your suggestions to me at 



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