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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.

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What to Expect When Joining the Big 4? "My Experience at PwC"

Joining a Big 4 firm can seem daunting when you don't know exactly what to expect or what you'll be doing when you first join. Maisie Horrell, Consultant at Pro-Tax, spoke with a female tax professional who recently joined PwC. She previously worked for a Top 10 accountancy practice for five years before making the move to the Big 4 with the help of Pro-Tax. Below, she speaks about the interview process at PwC, what happened in her first week on the job, and the difference between working at a Top 10 and a Big 4 firm. What were your reasons behind wanting to move to PwC? I wanted to make the move to PwC primarily because I wanted to gain more exposure working with larger clients and I wanted to work in a larger team that would enable me to learn from others around me. I was slightly worried at first that as a Big 4 firm, they were going to want ‘blood sweat and tears’ as this is often a common perception, but since my very first meeting with PwC I have been pleasantly surprised! What was the interview process like and how did you find it? The interview process at PwC was surprisingly stress-free, slick and very informative. It consisted of a first stage meet-and-greet with two Directors, where I was able to find out more information about the team I would be joining, the role, and what my day-to-day role would look like. I received feedback within just a couple of days and my final-stage formal interview was arranged very quickly. As opposed to the first meet-and-greet stage this interview focused more on technical questions and my suitability for the role, but I still felt at ease and comfortable the whole hour I was being interviewed. Three days after my formal interview I received an offer, which I was delighted about! The fact that it was such a quick process which made me feel at ease, made the idea of moving to PwC all the more attractive to me. I was invited back again to meet other people on my team in an informal setting, just so I could get a feel for the working environment and culture, which was fantastic as it meant that on my first day I already knew some friendly faces. What was your first week at PwC like? Day 1 - PwC Induction I was invited to listen to guest speakers who talked through how to manage stress and the best ways to achieve a good work-life balance, which in today’s world I think is incredibly important. Day 2 - Tax Induction There was a group of around 30 people from across all areas of tax within PwC, and we participated in group interactive exercises. Day 3 - Office Tour On the third day I had a tour of the building and I met my allocated buddy. Day 4 - Introductions I had my first day in my team with introductions to everyone I would be working closely with and getting to know the ropes. What have you found positive moving from a Top 10 to a Big 4 Firm? From day 1 you are allocated a ‘career coach’, who is usually a Manager or Senior Manager within your team who helps you with all areas of your career development, including promotions, work allocation, options to specialise, and secondment opportunities (whether this is internationally or to different departments within tax or the wider business) Every Wednesday my particular team has a fundamentals session for juniors - this is a training session where as a group, we discuss new tax legislation On Thursday each week we then have a Business Development session and discuss how we can take new cases to market, which is very helpful in enabling the team to become more commercially minded - something I have noticed about everyone at PwC from the very beginning of my career here I have also noticed that the way PwC advises is a lot more innovative than at my previous firms - the ways in which people work here is inspiring, and they continuously spot opportunities in other areas of the market that I don’t think other teams would right away I have found that I am working with such a mix of personalities - both my team and the wider business are so diverse and I’ve met such a wide range of people which makes work all the more interesting. This also means that I can bounce ideas off more people, making my work well-rounded as I learn from the people around me The business is all completely paperless which means everything runs smoothly and efficiently, with processes you wouldn’t always necessarily find at a smaller firm Unlike the common perception I haven’t found myself, or anyone else on my team, working crazy long hours, and having a healthy work-life balance is encouraged from day one Working at PwC I have noticed a much quicker turnaround in terms of work - when comparing this to firms outside of the Top 10, firms can sometimes lack innovation and urgency Everyone delves much deeper into the technical analysis of everything we do so that we can improve and innovate constantly, and as a firm PwC invests so much in improving themselves as well as their technology and systems One final and important thing that PwC do really well, is investing in people. They invest so much into personal development - you are encouraged to carve a niche for yourself from the beginning and to ask for feedback on everything, so you can improve after every piece of work you do. Your career is totally in your hands and you are given every opportunity to progress and develop. I think that working at PwC is going to make me a much more well-rounded advisor and for me, it's the best place to be for self-development and career progression - it’s an opportunity that I don’t think I fully appreciated until I actually got here! For more information on this article, or to speak to Maisie Horrell about making your move into a Big 4 firm, contact her on 020 7269 6337 or maisie.horrell@pro-tax.co.uk.

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A Career in Tax - Seriously Worth Considering

“I want to be ‘X’ when I grow up”... A phrase we have all said at least once at some point in our lives. I know for a fact that I pondered on this thought at every milestone of my life growing up. Primary school: Astronaut, Secondary School: Footballer and College: Lawyer. I’m not sure if it was just me in this boat but it was a daunting task to think about what I genuinely wanted to do, career-wise, longer-term. Having now spent several years specialising in tax recruitment, advising individuals at various stages of their career, I thought it was a great opportunity to reflect on why a career in Tax could be highly rewarding for anyone considering this route. Especially with the market being in demand for high-quality individuals! So, what is Tax? Tax: “(an amount of) money paid to the government that is based on your income or the cost of goods or services you have bought" For most, paying tax seems like an endless chore. However, its fact of life and something that affects individuals and businesses alike. As a Tax Professional, you can be the Batman to Gotham but instead, help save money on tax bills. In a nutshell, key responsibilities will include knowing tax law, breaking this down into layman terms, identifying new ways to save money whilst ensuring it's all done in a fully compliant and timely manner. Types of Tax: Broadly speaking, there are three main types of taxes: Corporate Tax: Tax for companies and businesses. These could be small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Owner Managed Businesses (OMB’s) or Large and Listed (FTSE100). There are specialisms within this such as Transfer Pricing, M&A and Employment tax to name a few. Personal Tax: Tax for individuals. There is also the option to specialise here, including Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Trusts. Value Added Tax (VAT): Tax on goods and services. Where to work: Accountancy Practices: This can range from the small boutique/independent firms through to mid-tier, all the way to the largest being the ‘Big 4’ (PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG). They act on behalf of a range of clients and across varying sectors. Commerce and Industry (In-House): This is where you will be solely working for one business and handling all their taxes, say Vodafone for example. Career Path: In an accountancy practice, your career path and opportunities to progress will be very linear. You’ll start as a Graduate/Tax assistant, progressing through to Tax Semi-Senior, then Senior. After this it will be Assistant Manager, Manager, Senior Manager and then comes Directorship. The final piece of the puzzle will be becoming a Tax Partner. Of course, there may be a few additional steps depending on the firm in question, but this gives a rough idea. On the flip side, a career in-house will look different from that in terms of titles and promotions. On occasion the teams tend not to be as big as those in the larger accountancy practices, thus meaning fewer levels to climb. As a result, an ‘upwards’ move may take slightly longer. Qualifications: The two main qualifications in Tax are ATT and CTA. ATT will help those starting their career and gives a solid understanding of core compliance principles. This is vital in ensuring client’s tax returns are completed accurately and filed on time. CTA is the next big milestone after ATT and is when you become a Chartered Tax Advisor. Being an advisor switches the focus to the problem solving, consultancy side of tax. It’s about knowing rules and legislation inside out, to take advantage of any loopholes, thus making the client’s finances as tax-efficient as possible. For anyone looking to further their career in some of the specialist fields, there are options available such as ADIT and STEP. Lifestyle and remuneration: Work-life balance is a very hot topic in today's working world. For those working in practice, hours tend to be longer especially with key deadlines to be met and this could result in additional evenings and weekends where you are required to work. However, the accounting world is continuing to develop and has become hugely accommodating to agile and flexible working to be competitive. Salary will rise steadily and is usually dependent on the firm you work for, your experience and qualifications. Broadly speaking, someone with a few years tax experience with the ATT qualification will be compensated around the 35k mark, this is likely to increase by at least 10k with a few further years’ experience and the CTA. After this, the world is your oyster and salaries can easily reach six figures and (in some cases), much higher, especially Partners in Big 4. Those working in Commerce and Industry are likely to be remunerated at a greater level than in practice and likely to see enhanced benefits packages (pension, days holiday etc). However, there are fewer opportunities available, thus making it more competitive. In summary A career in tax can be highly prosperous and rewarding, not only financially but also in terms of professional development. It offers a genuine chance to progress, ensuring your career does not stagnate. With tax legislation changing all the time, you will be sure to be kept on your toes! Here at Pro-Tax we focus primarily focus on tax opportunities for those with a minimum of 12-18 months of experience and who are likely to be studying for their ATT. For those wishing to embark on a career in tax, please do familiarise yourself with the Accountancy Age Top 50+50: https://www.accountancyage.com/rankings/top-5050-accountancy-firms-2019/ This will give you a good insight into the top 100 accounting firms in the UK, all of which are likely to advertise their graduate programmes and entry-level positions. The above is simply an insight to those interested in a career with tax and there is certainly more to this than meets the eye! Regardless of whether you are just learning the ropes in tax or if you are seeking genuine career advice as a more experienced tax professional, please do not hesitate to contact Dominic Watt on 0207 269 6310 or dominic.watt@pro-tax.co.uk.

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March 2020: Finance Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the finance sector. Here are the key movements in March 2020: EY have announced the appointment of Hywel Ball as EY UK & Ireland Regional Managing Partner and UK Chair, effective 1st July 2020. Ball will be responsible for leading the business in the UK and Ireland, succeeding Steve Varley, who has been appointed as the first EY Global Vice Chair – Sustainability. Financemoves.co.uk Thomas Westcott has appointed Ian Pring as Partner based in the firm’s Plymouth office. Pring has joined following a 30-year career at PKF Francis Clark, where he was Director of the firm’s Property and Wealth teams. Accountancydaily.co UHY Hacker Young have appointed Tracey Moore as Head of Charities and Not-for-Profit. She takes over from Subarna Banerjee who has headed the group for the last five years. Moore joined UHY Hacker Young in 2019 from BDO and has over 20 years’ experience working in the not-for-profit sector. Financemoves.co.uk Hugo Parson has joined Deloitte as a Partner to lead its Origination team for Private Equity. Parson was previously Global Head of Origination for Private Equity at EY, where he worked for over seven years. Prior to this Parson worked at Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan. Accountancydaily.co Dominic Treays has been appointed as Commercial Director (Global Business Services – Tax & Accounting) at TMF Group. He joins from Cragus Group in Dubai where he was Managing Director and spent 12 years. Financemoves.co.uk For more information about this article, or to speak to Callum about your recruiting needs or Finance jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 020 7269 6369 or callum.macrae@pro-finance.co.uk. Back to Finance Movers & Shakers Archive >>

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March 2020: Tax Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the tax sector. Here are the key movements in March 2020: PRACTICE LONDON AND CITY Partners PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has announced its leadership team with effect from 1st July 2020, following Kevin Ellis’ recent election to serve for a second four year term as the Senior Partner for the UK and Middle East Alliance. Alongside Ellis, the management board will comprise the following members from 1st July 2020: Marco Amitrano – Head of Clients and Markets; Benjamin Higgin – Head of Technology and Investment; Laura Hinton – Chief People Officer; Hemione Hudson – Head of Audit; Warwick Hunt – Managing Partner and Chief Operating Officer; Sam Samaratunga – Head of Risk Assurance; Dan Schwarzmann – Head of Market Initiatives and Industries; Carl Sizer – Head of Regions; Alison Statham – General Counsel and Chief Risk Officer; Paul Terrington – Head of Consulting; Marissa Thomas – Head of Tax; and Ken Walsh – Head of Deals. Ernst & Young (EY) has announced the appointment of Hywel Ball as EY UK & Ireland Regional Managing Partner and UK Chair, effective 1st July 2020. Ball will be responsible for leading the business in the UK and Ireland, succeeding Steve Varley, who has been appointed as the first EY Global Vice Chair – Sustainability. In addition, Alison Kay has been appointed into a newly created role as UK&I Managing Partner – Client Service, also effective 1st July 2020. Kay will be responsible for leading the overall market activity and service line delivery for EY in the UK and Ireland. Ernst & Young (EY) has appointed Sally Jones as an International Trade Policy Partner. She joins from Deloitte where she spent over 20 years. Hugo Parson has joined Deloitte as a Partner to lead its Origination team for Private Equity. Parson was previously Global Head of Origination for Private Equity at Ernst & Young (EY), where he worked for over seven years. Prior to this, he worked at Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan. At Deloitte, Parson will head up a cross-border team to identify investment opportunities for financial investor clients. UHY Hacker Young has appointed Mike Burt as a Tax Partner in the London office. Burt joins from Grant Thornton where he served as Partner for 20 years. He is a tax specialist focusing on entrepreneurial private clients and their businesses. BKL has become a member of AGN International, a worldwide association of independent accounting, tax and advisory businesses. Shipleys has announced that the tax and accounting division of London-based Mariana UFP LLP, merged with the firm on 2nd March 2020. The merger sees a small team of corporate and general tax specialists join Shipleys, led by Chartered Tax Adviser Stephen Hanlon. Hanlon’s career includes time working at BDO before moving to Ernst & Young (EY) as a Director in 2009, where he specialised in advising real estate businesses and a wide range of funds. He now specialises in many SEIS and EIS related issues, R&D tax credits and company share schemes, as well as advising on various reconstructions, reorganisations and M&A transactions. Senior Appointments PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has appointed Philip Rycroft CB and Victoria Raffé as new independent Non-Executives. They join the firm’s public interest body alongside Chair Dame Fiona Kendrick, Sir Ian Gibson CBE and Justin King CBE. During a 30-year career Rycroft held senior leadership positions in departments such as the Cabinet Office, Office for the Deputy Prime Minister, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Scottish Executive. Most recently, Rycroft was Permanent Secretary for the Department for Exiting the EU before retiring from the Civil Service in 2019. Raffé is a former director and executive committee member of the Financial Conduct Authority, where she held a number of leadership roles during a 20-year career with the regulator and its predecessor the Financial Services Authority. Since leaving the FCA, Raffé has focused on non-executive roles in the fintech sector and is currently a non-executive director of Starling Bank. Rakesh Dabasia has joined Buzzacott as a Tax Director in the Private Client team. He joins Buzzacott from Rayner Essex. Dominic Treays has been appointed as Commercial Director (Global Business Services – Tax & Accounting) at TMF Group. Treays’ specialisms include corporate advisory, planning and transactional, VAT, tax controversy and international corporate tax. SOUTH EAST Partners RSM has appointed Natasha Lucas as a Partner in its Private Client team based in Guildford. Lucas joins RSM from a London based investment firm where she was the CFO. Previously, she worked in Private Client Services for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as a Tax Director and as a Director at Deloitte. SOUTH WEST Partners Thomas Westcott has appointed Chartered Tax Adviser Ian Pring as a Partner in the Plymouth office. Pring has joined Thomas Westcott following a 30-year career at PKF Francis Clark. He has experience of advising on all areas of tax as well as specialist knowledge of property taxes, such as stamp duty land tax, and family business succession planning. MIDLANDS AND THE EAST Partners Smith & Williamson has appointed David Yewdall as a Partner in the Employment Tax and Incentives team based in the Birmingham office. Yewdall joins from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where he was a Director and spent over two years. He has also worked for KPMG and Ernst & Young (EY). NORTH WEST Partners UHY Hacker Young has appointed Helen Cowley as a Tax Partner in the Manchester office. Cowley joins from Baldwins, she provides bespoke tax advice to UK and overseas businesses and has particular expertise is assisting clients entering global markets and in providing international tax advice. Senior Appointments Julie Moore has joined RSM as an Employment Tax Director based in Manchester. Moore joins RSM from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where she was a Senior Manager. NORTH EAST Senior Appointments Roseann McGovern has joined the RMT’s Personal Tax team. COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY Justin Moody has been appointed Head of Tax at NES Global Talent. Chris spent time in practice with Deloitte and KPMG with his in-house career including time spent in the tax teams of AstraZeneca, Creston PLC and MAG. Hannah Karwatowska has joined Activision Blizzard as Indirect Tax Director. Before Activision, Hannah spent the majority of her career with Deloitte before her first move in-house to Thomson Reuters. Premier Foods have appointed Nita Advani as Head of Tax. Nita is vastly experienced with her in-house career spanning a variety of industries which includes time spent with Gillette, Aker Solutions, PageGroup, Ashtead and Lloyd’s respectively. For more information about this article, or to speak to Rebecca about your recruiting needs or Tax jobs in London or Nationwide, contact her on 02072696320 or rebecca.english@pro-tax.co.uk. Back to Tax Movers & Shakers Archive >>

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5 Top Tips for Interview Preparation While Working from Home

COVID-19 has seen offices completely change their day-to-day operations and people working remotely in their homes during lockdown. While this is a uncertain time for all, when it comes to preparing for interviewing there is a silver lining - extra time! While you would usually be caught up in your usual fast-paced and busy life, you now have more time to spend on interview prep. Below, we have put together the best ways to use your time wisely and prepare as effectively as possible for your upcoming virtual interviews! 1. Research on the firm It is key to ensure you have conducted thorough research of the company ahead of the interview. It is also good to be aware of any recent changes that have happened within the firm you are applying to, or indeed the market, such as new Partners, new divisions, or significant changes in the market the company operates within. You can do this by following the company on social media and LinkedIn, and looking up recent news articles on the both the firm and the wider market. Being aware of the company's ethics and morals is also key. If you have done your research and know that the firm’s key message is believing in teamwork, you can then relate this back in the interview and show examples of how you have demonstrated teamwork in the past. 2. Research who you are meeting Ensure you are aware of who you are meeting and their career history. You can do this by looking at their LinkedIn profile, or employee profile on the company website. In your interview, take the time to get to know them as a person too. If you secure the interview through an agency then your recruiter should be able to tell you what the hiring managers are like in greater detail. use this knowledge to your advantage! Not only this, but when you ask questions at the end make them as personable as possible. For example, ask the interviewer questions relating to their career - why they made certain career moves, or why they have stayed at this firm for so long. This will show your interest in the interviewer as well as the firm. 3. Competency-based questions A competency-based question is one which asks for behavioural descriptions in a given scenario, for instance, “tell me about a time when you showed ‘x’…”, or “tell me what you would do if ‘y’…”. Competency-based questions are key to any interview, so it's best to ensure you have examples prepared ahead of any interview - this could include times you were dealing with a difficult client etc. The go-to structure to handle competency-based questions effectively is the STAR format. This consists of a specific Situation you were in, a Task you were faced with, the behavioural Actions ‘you’ (not ‘we’) took, and the Results you achieved. 4. Technical knowledge prep When preparing for your interview, make sure you are prepared fully on your specific technical knowledge and experience within your specialised market. For example, within the audit and accounting marketing, be fully prepared to answer questions regarding the UK and international reporting standards such as FRS 102 and IFRS. Audit quality is also key at the minute, so you should prepare answers on your methodology on how you would audit a client, and use examples as much as possible! This is applicable to all markets - whether you work in the accounting market, creative or digital spaces, or in human resources - no matter the space you work within, brush up on your technical knowledge and refresh yourself on the relevant technical terms and training you've undertaken. 5. Mock interviews Although you might be working from home and interviewing remotely, this shouldn't stop you getting expert advice from your recruiter! Ask your recruiter to run through a mock interview process with you - will will help significantly. Ultimately, your recruiter will have the most knowledge about the interview process you will be going forward into, as well as information about who you will be meeting and the kind of questions you will be asked. This can be conducted over the phone or even better, by video call, so don't hesitate in asking to set up a mock interview with your recruiter to ensure you are as prepared as possible! These are just a few of the ways in which you can improve your methods of interview preparation. During the nationwide lockdown use your extra time wisely, conduct thorough research, brush up on your technical skills, prepare examples to answer competency-based questions, and arrange mock interview scenarios to ensure you are fully prepared for the interview that will land you your dream role and your next challenge. For more information on the best ways to prepare for your interview, contact Aaron Scott on 020 7269 6340 or aaron.scott@pro-finance.co.uk.

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How Has COVID-19 Impacted the London Tax Job Market?

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the lives of people right around the world in a way that has most probably never been seen before. Most people are uncertain of what lies ahead in the next few months, and job security is undoubtedly one that is at the forefront. While no jobs are completely sheltered from an economic fallout, there are certain industries which will be impacted less when a recession hits, one of which is accounting, according to many economists. Accountancy is considered to be the sixth most secure profession around. Indeed, in terms of accountancy as a recession-proof industry, it has ranked as the top position for salary and security. Skilled accountants can always pick up consultancy work in areas of risk advice – especially relevant during rockier periods such as recessions – and in more healthy economic climates, growing businesses will always be glad of the assistance. Essentially, accountancy is not – and will almost certainly never – be a ‘luxury’ service. It is essential. As long as businesses continue to operate, they’ll continue to require assistance from financial professionals. After various recessions, economic turbulence, and Brexit, the tax market has remained solid. Of course, there always needs to be adjustments, but the tax market has remained buoyant enough compared to others. Despite the uncertainty of the past few weeks whilst people adjust to the remote way of working, I am seeing more and more of my clients returning to ‘business as usual’. This includes pushing forwards with recruitment and continuing interview processes through video conference or Skype. Once we are through the worst of COVID-19, the tax consultancy industry should see an increase in demand, as well as a need for further tax professionals. Accountancy practices will need to keep recruiting in order to continue growing and meet this demand. The good news is that there's a clear pattern of markets overreacting to events like this, usually recovering before the worst is over, and recovery tends to be quick. If you are open to considering your next step in your career, I am working on a number of different roles, including: Restructuring Tax Assistant Director – up to £95,000 + 20% bonus Restructuring Tax Manager – up to £75,000 + 20% bonus Real Estate & Infrastructure Tax Manager – up to £75,000 + 20% bonus Transfer Pricing Director FS – up to £130,000 + 20% bonus VAT Analyst/Associate – up to £50,000 + 20% bonus So, the message is one of positivity. If you are worried about your job or business, need career advice, or are simply looking for market intel, please feel free to contact Maisie Horrell on 020 7269 6337 or maisie.horrell@pro-tax.co.uk.

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Our Duty of Care as an Employer

Mental health and employee wellbeing has been a popular topic for many employers over recent years. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that as employers we are acting and making positive change, not just discussing the subject. The last few weeks since the UK government announced ‘lockdown’ have proved challenging for all as we acclimatise to working from home full time and the usual office environment becomes a distant memory. I, like many others, have been used to the energetic and loud environment that comes with working in recruitment, at a firm with a strong team culture where we ‘bounce’ off our colleagues. As a management team, we are learning to appreciate that this working environment is difficult to replicate when working from home, meaning we have a duty of care to ensure our employees' wellbeing is our top priority. I have been encouraging my team to consider the below as part of their daily activities: 1. Exercise Don't just sit in your house or flat all day staring at a screen! For many, your daily routine would involve a visit to the gym or some form of exercise before, during or after work. With the gym now off limits, make sure you plan accordingly and include some form of exercise, whether it be a run, cycle or walk. This will not only keep you active but provide a chance to clear your head and get away from your workstation. 2. Routine Our daily routine will have changed considerably - no longer are we getting on the train, tube, or fighting our way through the usual hustle and bustle of London life. We are no longer having breakfast and lunch with our colleagues, or having a chat over a Friday beer. Our usual routines have been altered but it is essential we maintain a routine, albeit a new one. Do not work from your sofa or worse still, your bed! Try and create a similar workspace to your usual office environment - a quiet, dedicated area where you can work. There are obviously more distractions when working from home, so take yourself away from these as much as possible. Little things, such as your waking up at your usual time rather than laying in. Use the extra time to exercise, have a relaxed breakfast, read or plan your day. Dress appropriately for the day ahead and avoid sitting in pyjamas. Get up, shower and dress for the day to ensure you are in the right state of mind. 3. Interaction We all love talking to our colleagues - whether we are discussing last nights dinner choice, latest Netflix binge watch or the football scores, we all enjoy that daily interaction and socialising. It is essential we do not lose that when working in isolation! Here at Pro-Finance, we have daily video team chats where we can interact and discuss our plans for the day ahead, which ensures we keep our team spirit and energy levels high. Use the technology available, whether it be Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom, to keep regular face-to-face interaction and avoid sole reliance on email. These are just a few small pieces of advice to ensure we keep active, both physically and mentally, and ensure we maintain a healthy wellbeing. It is still unknown how long this current situation will continue, so encouraging our employees to put their wellbeing and mental health first must be our priority. If anyone has any comments or would like to discuss further, then please get in touch with Tom Eagle on 020 7269 6349 or tom.eagle@pro-finance.co.uk.

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What is Company Culture and What Impact Does it Have on your Business Model?

Company culture is one of the real buzzwords currently but have you ever stepped back to think what a “company culture” is? So often I speak with clients, candidates and even competitors who simply fail to grasp the importance of getting a company culture right. They will lay on some beers on a Friday, relax the dress code and call it a culture. For me, one of the things that all at Pro-Recruitment Group do well is explain what a corporate culture really is, and all of the staff know that by working in the right way, culture will breed performance. The definition of company culture encompasses the beliefs and behaviors of a business, as well as interactions between management, employees, and clients. It is implied, not defined, as culture exists in our everyday lives as well. A successful corporate culture improves the quality of employees, employee turnover rate, and productivity. A question often asked to me by candidates is; "What is the culture like?" And whilst I have no issues with this as a question, I will often flip back and ask, "what is a culture to you?" Candidates can often feel that the culture is something to entice them in - talks about the social clubs, the pubs they go to, where people take lunch on a Friday - that sort of thing. Don’t get me wrong, all of those do contribute to company culture, but what is so often overlooked within culture is a company's ethos and values. So, how does company culture affect performance? A group of employees focused on individual goals will quite simply not breed the same results as those working towards a shared goal and vision. Again, one of the biggest pitfalls is that employees do not understand their organisations vision. By being open and clear about the companies overall vision, what the company is looking to achieve outside of financial goals, and how it plans on achieving these, the sense of inclusion, shared responsibility and ownership will naturally drive performance. Company culture should not just be a directive from the top to junior staff, nor a rigid and arbitrary tick list of what your competitors are doing. Company culture should be malleable, visual to all, shared by all and, where possible, created by all for all. By all means, put some money behind the bar on a Friday and reward people for achievements, but make sure they know why they work for your company and not your competitors. An engaged employee is a valuable and profitable employee. For more information on company culture and the value it adds, contact Callum MacRae on 020 7269 6369 or callum.macrae@pro-finance.co.uk.

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My New Routine - Working From Home

COVID-19 has temporarily changed our working lives and routines. Most of us left the office a little less than two weeks ago and moved our workplace to our own homes ready to start at 8am the next morning. And with very little disruption thanks to the digital world we live in now. And in less than two weeks we have all had to learn a whole new vocabulary and world with terms such as “self isolation”, “social distancing“ and “the curve”. As well as having to change our normal days beyond recognition, both in and out of work mode. Life is clearly very very different right now to how it has ever been before. I used to work from home a couple of times a month and found it great to be able to get my head down, inspect my division, and think about our strategy without interruptions. However, some people love working from home. I am not one of those people... Recruitment is a social job. We meet a wide range of clients and candidates and try and match them together. It’s also a tough job at times. When you need the support of those around you to get you the tough times... I love the buzz of the office and the energy of those around me. And I miss it, a lot. Here is how I'm changing my working routine to adjust to working from home: 1. I keep the tv/radio on quietly in the background. Not loud enough to distract me, but loud enough not to be lost in silence when I am not talking on the phone or interviewing online. It’s clearly not the same as working with over 50 friends and colleagues but it does help me. 2. To keep our strong team spirit, I build in regular phone and video calls with my colleagues throughout the day. Just to share news and check in with how we are all feeling. We also do this to try to have some fun, recreate the buzz of the office, and encourage normal social interactions. I have a virtual lunch with my teams at least a few times a week, and last week I joined a clients virtual pub quiz (sorry my general knowledge was so bad...). On a Friday, we have a team collective "cheers", where we all get a glass of wine or beer from the fridge at the same time, accompanied by a weekly update from our MD. It’s a reminder that we are still a team - both the charities division I head up and the wider team at Pro. 3. I try and dress for the office. Whatever your normal dress code for the office, try to recreate at home. We have regular meetings online via Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and MSmeet with external clients and suppliers. And we still have an image to portray. Also, just by putting on my work clothes, it’s a clear sign to me and those around me that I am at work. It just changes my mindset to a work one and helps my productivity throughout the working day. 4. Have tea/coffee breaks, go out for your exercise once a day, and take regular breaks from your laptop throughout the day. It sounds obvious, but taking lunch away from my workstation really helps me, as well as having set clear times when I work, and when it’s "my" time. I focus on the day-to-day only. None of us can be sure about what other changes will be happening in a weeks time, a months time, or 6 months time. So, I try and focus on what I can control right now by setting myself daily targets, rather than worrying about what is going to happen next week or next month. 5. My only C-19 news is Boris's evening updates! It’s a routine and whilst I want to know what the latest news is, I don’t want to be consumed by it throughout the day. So Boris is my daily update on COVID-19, and I try not to read or listen to anything else about it during the day or evening. Life is so different and scary at the moment, so I try and keep myself up to date with what I need to know without it consuming my whole day and life. Who knows how long this is going to go on for? When the peak will be reached? And if the world of work will ever go back to how it was before this? But most of us will still have our health. And most of us will have adapted very quickly and in our own unique ways, just showing how resilient and strong we all really are. When we come through this, life will be very different for a long time in many ways. I still feel a little shell shocked, I must admit. But, we have seen both the worst and best of human behaviour in the last few weeks - mostly the best. And that also keeps me going. Stay safe all. For help with your recruiting needs or more advice on working from home, please contact Claire Stradling on 020 7269 6351 or claire.stradling@pro-recruitment.co.uk.

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Regional Accountancy Practices – The Search for Accountants & Auditors Continues

COVID-19 has undoubtedly influenced the economy with much of the UK working from home and jobs, as we know them, rapidly adapting to this change. However, regional accountancy practices have been using methods of agile and flexible working for years, with lots of opportunity to work from home. Whilst working entirely remotely is somewhat in untested territory, accountancy practices have adapted swiftly and efficiently enabling the transition to be as smooth as possible. Agile working in Regional Accountancy Practices With most of the country currently working from home, agile working has been thrust into the forefront of employment. Employers and employees alike are still adjusting to the transition, with methods of communication, adapting to the virtual space, and self-discipline being key. Regional firms have long been offering flexible working policies with most already offering the opportunity to work from home – even across audit. This makes them well-suited to people with other commitments, such as return to work parents who need to accommodate for term times and the school run. Much of my client portfolio across Berkshire and Surrey offer flexible working arrangements, with perhaps 3 or 4 days in the office alongside working from home and remote working. Whilst the current situation surrounding lockdown and social distancing is not the norm, accountancy practices across the UK have shown “resilience, flexibility and above all the need to protect their staff while delivering the necessary services to ensure their clients survive” (Accountancy Daily, 23 Mar 2020). Recruitment Continues I work closely with accountancy practices across Surrey and Berkshire, many of which have had agile working policies in place for years, and for many of these firms, recruitment has not been put on hold. Currently, I am closely working with Top 15, Mid-Tier and smaller accountancy practices on urgent roles across accounts and audit. Some of the roles I am currently recruiting for: Audit and Accounts Manager – Slough Audit Team Leader – Leatherhead Outsourcing Senior Manager – Reading Accounts Assistant Manager/ Manager – Reading Audit Senior – Oxford Whilst times may seem uncertain, accountancy practices continue to recruit and stand strong in the face of isolation and social distancing. Now is the perfect time to update your CV and get a head start within the market. If you have decided that you would like a stronger work-life balance, whether this be by cutting down your commute, working from home or having flexible working hours, working regionally would be the ideal choice. If you would be interested in a confidential chat surrounding the opportunities Pro-Finance are currently recruiting for, please do get in contact with Jordanne Napier on 0207 269 6353 or jordanne.napier@pro-finance.co.uk.

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Virtual Recruiting and Interviewing: The 'New Norm'

As we reach the end of the UK’s lockdown amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the dust is starting to settle and everyone is gradually accepting remote working and the processes that come along with it as the ‘new norm’. Recent months have been fast-paced and have required a huge practical and cultural shift for most companies, including here at Pro-Group, but recruitment and interview processes are beginning to have a clearer and more streamlined structure. Considering this, we have answered some of the important questions surrounding current interview processes and the position of both candidates and clients in the UK at the moment. Are clients hiring? Yes, companies still need staff to complete work! There is no one universal theme to hiring patterns - some firms have chosen to pause on their hiring objectives given the current situation, whereas some companies are continuing as usual, and are not letting changes to the market and workplace affect their hiring strategies. We also expect the market to recover quickly once the dust settles on this crisis period, especially in professional services. Once we are through the other side, processes that have been paused are likely to be resumed, and we expect to be inundated with new roles. Are candidates available? Here at Pro-Group we are getting ahead of the curve but, of course, for some people finding a new role isn’t the number one priority in the current climate. Those who are still looking for their next challenge are taking measured steps and re-analysing their next move, but more often than not people are happy to continue with interviewing if the potential role is a significant step up - whether this is in pay or responsibility. We are certainly seeing a number of high-quality, immediately available candidates who are open to moving jobs. Now, it is more important than ever to showcase your company and promote the reasons candidates should join your workforce, from key responsibilities and career progression to benefits and company culture. How can we interview? Many interview processes are continuing to go ahead, with companies utilising different softwares and online platforms to conduct interviews and continue hiring. Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams have been the most common platforms used to continue interview processes, and downloads of these types of apps have soared over the past few months. With everyone working from home, arranging new interviews over the phone or by video call has been a relatively smooth process, due to the absence of fully booked diaries and difficulties getting time out of the office to interview elsewhere. Now is a much easier time to arrange communication between clients and candidates, for people to video-call during working hours, and for us to ensure quick and efficient interview turnarounds. How do we onboard? Virtual onboarding is absolutely becoming the new norm. Onboarding gives your new employee that all-important first impression of the company they’ve just joined, so it’s important to make sure you’re doing this right! The last thing you want is to have been through all the processes to hire the perfect person to join your team, just to lose them because your virtual onboarding process isn’t up to scratch. This can include virtual meetings with all the people who would typically be involved in the onboarding process - the leadership team, HR, direct managers, and group meetings with the wider team. It can also include orientation to your company’s core principles, processes and systems. Here at Pro, we are currently speaking to our candidates who have recently started new positions amidst this period of uncertainty and we will be providing further insights and advice on the virtual onboarding process. If we can help you in any way, whether you are a candidate or a client looking for advice on new ways of job searching, interviewing or onboarding, please do give us a call. Here at Pro-Group we can help with any search needs or vacancies across Tax, Legal, Finance, HR, Marketing, Communications and Fundraising - permanent, interim or contract. For help with your recruiting needs, please contact Tom Eagle on 020 7269 6349 or tom.eagle@pro-finance.co.uk.

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How are you Staying Connected While Working from Home?

This week I have been talking to clients about the different ways of keeping engaged with staff in these challenging times. As soon as the news was announced by Boris at 5.05pm on Monday 16th March, the first thought of the management team at Pro was the wellbeing of our staff, which resulted in us instructing our workforce to work from home for the foreseeable future. So, here we are in unprecedented times. In all my c25 years of working in recruitment it appears we are set for a period of time working from home with various outlets, clients and business leaders telling us it is 'business as usual'. But is it really business as usual??? I mean for me, I am not travelling on the Central Line coming into work, queuing at Starbucks to get my normal caffeine fix and then seeing my teams ‘happy’ faces as they come through the door plus chatting to the wider business. Having spoken to a number of clients this week ranging from those in the Big 4, Mid Tiers and regional clients, it appears to be a very strange time for all. Staff morale and wellbeing is paramount for all businesses it seems, and at the forefront of everyones minds! I thought I would share with you the various ways that our clients are focusing on wellbeing in the workplace... Most firms are using the obvious and popular channels of virtual communication, such as Zoom/MSN Team/Microsoft Teams/Skype to have a ‘team meeting’ at the start of the day - just to check in with their staff, keep them motivated, to make sure that they are focused on the day ahead, to ensure that they are all ok, and to see their actual faces rather than just a voice. One of the Big 4’s London international tax team have introduced new sub teams of around 12/15 people, rather that the full team of 150 to ensure that everyone is being included and they are getting to know the wider team. They have even gone one stage further by setting up ‘working parents’ groups’, employees that are on their own in a house/flat, and a group for their international staff where they are perhaps on a secondment away from their family. Some accountancy practices are keeping their firms informed by senior management team or staff partners completing pre-recorded video messages to their whole workforce with regular updates. But what is super to hear is the novel ways that clients are getting their staff to interact in these crazy times. They are ranging from virtual pub quizzes, virtual coffee meetings, virtual beers (and a new whiskey club), a newfound 80’s film review night, and one firm has even introduced weekly virtual yoga and pilates classes. Here at Pro, we have set up morning Zoom meetings where I get to see the team’s faces, we discuss the previous night’s PM speech and what we had for dinner, before talking over the days tasks, which include keeping interview processes moving, touching base with our clients and candidates, working on our live roles (and we do have some!), talking over their professional projects as well as their personal projects (ranging from a run, a family walk, cooking, learning something new each day to a 1000 piece jigsaw!) just as long as they break things up to ensure that they’re not just looking at a screen in one place for 7/8 hours! I guess we are all finding ways to stay connected with our team/workforce and everyone is certainly in this together, but what I have loved hearing is the great stories of staying strong, being supportive and if you see one of your team mates struggling just connect with them perhaps by video call to say hello! Wellbeing in the workplace was such a key topic (and rightly so) pre-Covid 19, I can certainly say that it is even more prominent now. If you have some other ideas about connecting with tour staff or just keeping their spirits up, we would love to hear from you. Contact Kevin Racher on 020 7269 6321 or kevin.racher@pro-tax.co.uk.

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60 Seconds With: Richard Davidson, Chief Executive at Sarcoma UK

Richard Davidson joined Sarcoma UK as their Chief Executive in July 2018, and has been working in the third sector for more than two decades. His previous roles include Director of Engagement at Anthony Nolan and Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Cancer Research UK. Richard is Chairman of Emilia Clarke’s charity, SameYou, which is dedicated to increasing access to rehabilitation services after brain injury and stroke for young people, and he is also a board member of SPAEN, the European network of sarcoma patient advocacy groups. Richard speaks with Nicholas Ogden at Pro-Marketing about working at Sarcoma UK, offers interview tips, and shares advice for those looking to progress their career in the charity sector. Tell us about yourself, how your career started and what you do at Sarcoma UK? I have worked in the voluntary sector throughout my career in public affairs, policy, marketing, fundraising and communications. I worked at CRUK, Anthony Nolan and now for a smaller organisation, Sarcoma UK as Chief Executive. How do Sarcoma UK differentiate themselves in the market? We are the only organisation in the UK that covers all types of Sarcoma, funds research, raises awareness and provides information and support. How big is your team and what advice would you give anyone applying to be part of the team? We could consider ourselves to be small but mighty (22 people in total). I always look for staff who really care about the beneficiaries and want to make a difference to the lives of people with cancer. How would your team describe you? I have no idea, but I would think they would say I am supportive, energetic and creative. What advice would you give to your younger self? When I started out, I worried too much. I would now advise myself not to. When you interview someone for your organisation, what is the first thing you notice about a person and what does it tell you? I always think you can tell quite quickly if someone has passion and desire, which is important to me. What personal and soft skills are most important when working in the charity sector? I look for empathy and an ability to relate well to people. You need to be able to adapt to other people’s styles and approaches. What advice would you give to someone looking to make a move into a not-for-profit organisation from another sector? Do it! People from other sectors have a great deal to offer, but do not assume that things will be easier and less pressurised. Often more is at stake in the voluntary sector. If you were not working for a charity, what would the dream be? I feel I will always be connected to charities, but I would love to live in an Italian cottage with space, fine weather, food and wine. A dog would complete the idyllic scene! Any final words of advice for people looking to progress their career in the charity sector? Consider what you feel passionate about and choose roles that allow you to use that energy to make a difference. Thanks for your time, and as a little treat for all of our readers - do you have any guilty pleasures you can share with us? I have a penchant for a Subway steak sandwich. ​ For more information on this article, please contact Nicholas Ogden on 020 7269 6338 or nicholas.ogden@pro-recruitment.co.uk.

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The "Dreaded" Telephone Interview

In the current climate with working from home and the COVID-19 crisis, remote interview processes are becoming the norm. Telephone interviews can seem daunting but in your job search, interviews over the phone have become inevitable. In a very candidate short candidate market, we are seeing a high number of passive candidates. So, what makes a passive candidate different to an active candidate? Not much really - they are still sitting in front of a client and keen to “explore the market” / “see what else is out there” / “Am I at the right firm for me”. Time is precious and coupled with the challenges that the Coronavirus may throw at us, here at Pro-Tax we have seen more and more telephone interview being arranged in the last three weeks. This week alone we have arranged three telephone interviews, suggested by us to client and candidates alike to keep the recruitment process moving. They are not always the ideal form of interview, but they are undoubtedly a good way for both candidate and client to still have the ‘informal interview’. The telephone interview brings its own challenges for a candidate, and I have outlined some top tips for you to be fully prepared for that call. 1. It is still an interview! ‘I wasn’t prepared for that type of question’ is a phrase that I never want my team to hear. If we do, then we have not done our jobs correctly. Yes, telephone interviews can tend to be more informal but you do need to know your CV, some information on the firm, the potential role (as there should be a potential opportunity, otherwise why are you there?) and knowledge about who you are being interviewed by. 2. Find a quiet room/place where you can talk freely I would also advise wearing pods/headphones which will remove any background noise and allow you to talk more clearly. Ideally, turn off all other apps/notification - you do not want to be distracted at all. 3. Dress for an interview Psychologically, you will be in the right frame of mind and it will create a more professional mindset. Sit still at a desk or table rather than on the sofa, or even better stand! It projects your voice and keeps you more alert. 4. Prepare your questions and key points What makes the firm/role of interest to you? It is a great chance to perhaps ask the questions you would not feel comfortable to ask face to face. This is your chance to ask about flexible working arrangements or progression time lines. Top tip: have a drink prepared just in case you need it to clear your throat or take a pause (ideally not a Gin & Tonic!) 5. Answer the phone in the correct manner “Good afternoon this is……. speaking”. Make sure to start the conversation in the right way, and at the end of the meeting thank them for their time and make sure to say you will be in touch with the recruiter with thoughts and feedback. 6. Most of all, relax and try to enjoy the interview Please remember the interview is a 2-way process, so please get out as much as possible. As when you pass on your thoughts and feedback to your agent, we want you to say, “that’s a great role/firm, I am keen” NOT “I am not really sure, I didn't find out enough". For a more in-depth conversation around alternative interview processes and interview tips within the Tax market, please do get in touch with Kevin Racher on 020 7269 6321 or kevin.racher@pro-tax.co.uk.

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