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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.


Managing your employee’s return to work: Post COVID-19 lockdown

As the UK starts to ease lockdown we are speaking to many organisations about their return to work. How do you feel about your team coming back? Has lockdown given you time to reassess flexible working options? Do you have the right team in place?  As well as keeping up-to-date with the latest Government guidance, here is our advice to employers looking to manage their team’s return to work: Communicating with your teams Phased return stages Workplace Risk Assessment Coming into and leaving the office New ways of using your workspace Managing holidays and employee wellbeing Communicating with your teams As an employer, it will be your duty to ensure that you discuss any plans for your employees to return to work as soon as possible. We suggest talking about: When they might return to the workplace How they will travel to and from work How health and safety is being reviewed and managed – you should share the latest risk assessment where possible, more advice on this will follow below Planned adjustments to the workplace, for example additional hand washing facilities, staggering start and finish times to avoid overcrowding or floor markings to help people keep 2 metres apart If there will be a phased return of the workforce, for example some staff returning before others Flexible/working from home arrangements and support Wherever possible, you should speak to your staff before making a decision or putting plans in writing. This can help you better understand  their needs and concerns and supports an ethos of being included in organisational decisions. Phased return stages Where employees have been furloughed, you should consider to operate a phased return. It is necessary to reduce the numbers of people at the workplace to comply with social distancing, plus the workload is likely to slowly increase over time rather than immediately returning to pre-pandemic levels. WIth many worried about their employment status during and after this pandemic, it’s important to ensure that you communicate that the phased return is purely for employee welfare and safety and not necessarily a reason to doubt future employment. Across London and the rest of the UK, thousands of employees are being asked to return to work. But many employers are faced with a furloughed employee who refuses. If this situation arises, you will need to look for compromises. Be proactive in speaking to the employee to determine their specific issues and concerns and then work with them to look at alternative options. Can they work from home and, if an employee is unable to work from home, what specific health advice is available to you as their employer that could be shared with them. Could they be placed in an alternative role in the business in which they do feel safe? These factors will need to be taken into consideration during what is a concerning period for many. Workplace Risk Assessment Preparing the workplace is essential. Setting out clear standards and processes will reduce the worry for your teams and minimise health and safety risks for you and your employees. In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing, and surface cleaning Government guidelines suggest that employers should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (keeping people 2m apart wherever possible). Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, such as meetings and group activity, you should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between your staff. i.e: Ensuring the activity time is as short as possible Using markers/barriers to seperate people Side-to-side working rather than face-to-face Fixed teams/partnering to reduce the number of people each person comes into contact with. With limited people in the office/workplace per day. Introducing a one-way systems One-to-one assessments with every employee returning to the workplace must be conducted to establish the level of vulnerability to COVID19. The government has clearly stated that No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment. Coming into and leaving the office The government has highlighted that the steps that will usually be needed are: Staggering arrival and departure times at work to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace, taking account of the impact on those with protected characteristics. Providing additional parking or facilities such as bike racks to help people walk, run, or cycle to work where possible. Limiting passengers in corporate vehicles, for example, work minibuses. This could include leaving seats empty. Reducing congestion, for example, by having more entry points to the workplace. Providing more storage for workers for clothes and bags. Using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points. Providing handwashing facilities, or hand sanitiser where not possible, at entry and exit points and not using touch-based security devices such as keypads. Maintaining use of security access devices, such as keypads or passes, and adjusting processes at entry/exit points to reduce risk of transmission. For example, cleaning pass readers regularly and asking staff to hold their passes next to pass readers rather than touching them. See here for further government guidance on travelling to and from work. New ways of using your workspace Reduce movement and discourage non-essential trips within the office, for example, restricting access to some areas, encouraging use of telephones and cleaning them between use. Restrict access between different areas of a building. Ie. 2 people in the kitchen at any one time and Sharing the responsibility of wiping down surface areas upon leaving the space. Reducing job and location rotation. Introducing more one-way flow through buildings. Reducing maximum occupancy for lifts, providing hand sanitiser for the operation of lifts and encouraging use of stairs wherever possible. Managing use of high traffic areas including corridors, lifts turnstiles and walkways to maintain social distancing. Managing holidays and employee wellbeing As an employer, you know it's your duty to ensure that you support your team’s physical, mental and environmental wellbeing. Your approach to holiday is likely to depend on how much work there is in the pipeline. If, even after lockdown restrictions are lifted, workload is low, you may want to consider preventing employees from cancelling their previously approved holiday to ensure employees are available later in the holiday year when workload may increase. Quite fairly, you may have employees who are reluctant to take holiday whilst many travel restrictions are in place, as an employer you can also require them to take leave, subject to legal requirements under the Working Time Regulations/any procedure set out in a collective agreement or contract of employment. You should also be mindful of various issues including health and safety obligations in ensuring that employees have reasonable breaks for their mental and physical wellbeing. Share government health advice and helplines for wellbeing if they need further support that you feel you are not able give, To conclude, there are many factors to consider to ensure that you, your business and your employee are safe during this period of further transition back into the workplace. The CIPD suggests that it is important to ensure you can meet three key tests before bringing their people back to the workplace: Is it essential?  Is it sufficiently safe?  Is it mutually agreed?  We are speaking to many clients who are phasing returns for their teams and will make it our duty of care as recruiters to share best practice. If you need any support with your plans, we are here to help. Contact your specialist recruiter for immediate support Here, email  or call 020 7269 6333


Never Underestimate The Influence Of Company Culture on Staff Attraction

Due to the competitive nature of the market, high-quality candidates are often presented with four or five offers of employment for their next position. As a result, clients are constantly asking my advice on how to attract and retain the best talent out there! Whilst excellent rates of pay and opportunities for progression are two of the most obvious ways to attract the right team members, there are various other more subtle and engaging ways to maximise your staffing potential. According to Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success. With that being said, below we will explore some creative ways to motivate and reward your employees when they go above and beyond. Not to mention ways to create a company culture that'll be the envy of your competitors and attract the top talent in the market! So what can your company do to attract and retain staff? Social functions We spend between eight and ten hours a day with our work colleagues so having positive relationships is important for both productivity, employee relations and staff morale. Having regular social functions strengthens these bonds and leaves your staff looking forward to going to work! It is also beneficial to break down some of the hierarchal barriers that can unconsciously arise in a formal office environment.   Extra holiday allowance for charity and community work Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been a key areas of focus across various industries in the past year and what better way to engage with your team than support them in causes close to their own heart. Deloitte found that 76% of Millennials now regard business as a force for positive social impact. Whilst CSR benefits the employee directly they will feel that you as the employer see them as more than a body on a chair and are aligned with their motivations and ideologies. Flexible lifestyles need flexible working A common market misconception is that flexible working means an hour either side of rigid core hours in one location. In fact, flexible working is so much more than this, due in part to technological advances. According to a survey conducted by PowWowNow, 67% of employees polled wish they were offered flexible working. On top of that, 58% of people believed that working away from the office would help them become more motivated. Several of my key clients have implemented flexible locations whether this is working from home, regional offices or WeWork spaces. If you are reactive to your employees’ needs, chances are they will be appreciative. Let staff chose their own benefits and incentives Not every employee is the same and every individual will have key drivers as to what would make them feel rewarded. By allowing employees to have an input in their own personalised incentive scheme you again reinforce that you are a people focused company. Whether this is additional time off, financial reward or something more tangible such as a bottle of wine or meal with a loved one, allowing them to chose can really pay off. These are just some of the ideas that we at Pro-Recruitment Group have suggested to clients, which have been implemented across several offices. If you feel that your company does not value you as an employee, or indeed you are an employer looking to attract and retain the best staff in the market, please do get in contact with our industry experts!


Organisation Survival! Why Crisis Communication is Critical

For every organisation, large or small, it is essential to establish a good crisis plan. Effective and consistent communication is crucial to the everyday functioning of a business and even more so during a crisis. Yet it is surprising how many organisations, including leading international charities and NGOs, do not have an effective plan in place to ensure sensitivity and survival in a time of crisis. Here at Pro-Marketing, we have partnered with and spoken to some high profile Communication and PR professionals who have indirectly provided national brand media reaction statements over recent years.  These conversations have provided an in-depth insight into why crisis communication is critical and how it should be carried out to avoid further brand detriment. So, how can your organisation establish an effective media crisis plan? This short read provides five essential steps that need to be considered to ensure organisation survival in times of crisis when you may find yourself under the spotlight.  1. Have a Plan Don’t wait for a PR or social media crisis to put a plan in place! Ensure that your organisation has an established template and format to be adhered to when an emergency situation arises. This is particularly important for executives with a media presence or those who are representing your organisation - it is essential that these people are aware of any fixed processes, and it is worth introducing a company policy where only authorised speakers are permitted to engage with the media. Your plan should not only include reaction times and an agreed-upon format, but should also allow for flexibility with regards to potential audiences. When responding to a media crisis, it is crucial that your affected audience is at the forefront of your plan, and making sure that any communications are in their interest is key. 2. Don't Panic Stay calm and ignore the inevitable and instantaneous pressure from the media to give an immediate response. It is important to consider the angles of the media and your audience, and produce a clear message. A premature response could be inadequate, uninformed, and lacking a complete picture of the scenario at hand. So, no knee-jerk reactions - this could actually do your organisation more damage than good! 3. Address the Crisis It is imperative to respond to and acknowledge a crisis that relates to your organisation, whether this be directly or indirectly. It is at this stage when you are addressing the crisis itself, that you need to ensure you acknowledge and, if appropriate, sympathise with the perspective of any victims.  Major errors on behalf of organisations in recent years have included the covering up of incidents and in cases such as these, it is crucial that mistakes or incidents are acknowledged, investigated, and dealt with in a professional and timely manner.  4. Bespoke Response While having a plan is valuable, it is also just as important that each scenario is tailored to circumstance. Each crisis situation is inevitably different from the last, and therefore a bespoke response is needed! Any responses or messages communicated by your organisation need to not only be factual and transparent, but human. 5. Set Clear Actions Moving Forward! As an organisation, establish a clear action plan on how to support those affected, whether it be compensation, help and support, or anything else which relates appropriately to the specific scenario. This often means an organisation needs to step back from self-promotion and speak honestly and transparently about any errors and how these errors will be addressed going forward - this will undoubtedly be beneficial for your organisation in the long run. To conclude: Have a crisis communications strategy in place to avoid shell shock when a crisis arises and incompetence in responding to a critical situation. Be prompt in addressing the issue but do not rush communication to the detriment of your organisation. Tailor any communications or messages to show care and consideration towards those affected, and clarify a future company policy demonstrating that lessons have been learnt. For more information on crisis communication, or for Marketing, Fundraising and Communications roles in the Charity and Not-For-profit sector, contact Nicholas on 020 7269 6338 or


6 Staff Retention Tips To Improve Your Business

Are you supporting a high growth business in the UK but also one who suffers from 15% or higher staff turnover rate? As recruitment specialists, we know that a key goal of yours is to keep your staff happy, so your business can flourish. According to Glassdoor, the average employer spends about £3,000 and 27.5 days to hire a new worker. We work with businesses who are working really hard to improve their staff retention. This speedy 2-minute read will give some insight about how you can improve your employee relations and your staff retention. 1. Certainty 2. Variety 3. Significance 4. Connection 5. Growth 6. Contribution 1. Certainty Job security is one of the key aspects that you need to promote within your company to improve staff retention. Whether you are a HR Director or a Recruiter, all employees need to have confidence in the security of their job. Doubts over the company's success will have a big impact on performance and your bottom line. If employees feel stressed, their work will suffer and this will have a knock-on effect on the team. How do you prevent uncertainty and negative gossip? Keep your staff informed on how the company is performing. Keeping your team in the know will build trust and develop strong employee relations. If your staff can see how well your company is performing then they'll feel more certain about their job security. Also, reassure your team of their value to you and the company. Employees like to feel wanted and needed. 2. Variety Variety is the spice of life! Talent and skill utilisation is another factor your key employees seek in your workplace. Often, when candidates register with us they want to try something new but are unable to do so in their current firm. Motivated employees want to contribute to work areas outside of their specific job description. Think about offering work that wouldn’t fit into their portfolio. How many people in your business would value from working in another team or on a different project? You need to know their skills, talent, and experience, and take the time to develop this to your advantage. 3. Significance Everyone loves to feel important! However, With 69% of workers polled saying their boss didn’t support their career goals, it seems as though this point is being overlooked by many. We like to think that our actions have an impact in the world and that we add real value. If someone is doing a good job, ensure that they know about it. Making sure that your team know that they are valued will go a long way in the company. Frequently saying ‘thank you’ goes a long way. As recruitment experts, we head from candidates looking to move and there is a common theme that people don’t feel valued. Your staff members must feel rewarded, recognised and appreciated. This can be reflected by pay rises, job titles or heaping praise on someone in front of others. No member of staff should be made to feel like an unnecessary cog in the machine. 4. Connection Team rapport is essential for any company to be successful. Team building activities, nights out and regular meetings are great ways to ensure staff bond. The change of scenery can only add to this positive feeling. This is something many companies miss out on and it does make a difference. We at Pro-Group pride ourselves on our family-feel office and this team-bonding time is essential in maintaining a happy workplace. The saying “You spend more time with the people you work with than you do with your friends and family” is very true. That's why creating a welcoming place where people enjoy their environment is imperative. Don’t get us wrong, employees are there to work but you must strike a healthy balance to create a conducive environment. 5. Growth People like to feel that they are growing/progressing in life. To achieve growth, they must be challenged, do not let someone stagnate! According to a survey by totaljobs, 68% of employees have changed jobs because of a lack of learning and development opportunities.  Your best employees, those you want to keep, seek opportunities to learn and grow in their careers. Without the opportunity to train, attend seminars and courses employees feel they will stagnate. A career-orientated and valued employee must experience growth opportunities within your organisation. They also need to see a space that they can grow into; otherwise, they won’t grow. When was the last time you asked an employee if they felt they were developing or asked them what else you can do to help develop them? 6. Contribution This is tied in with several other points in this guide to staff retention. You need to remind your team of how they're contributing to the company and how well they are doing! There are a lot of points above that feel very obvious, I’m aware of a number of companies that don't install the simplest of these policies. Try to implement just one or two of the above suggestions to retain your best staff, or stop and ask yourself, do you do this for your staff already? Some of these suggestions cost you nothing but a little time and effort. The outcome - You will be more likely to keep your superstars with you for the long haul. It’s essential to take a step back sometimes and ask yourself - How happy are your staff?. Are you meeting all their needs? If not, why not!? If you’re struggling with retaining your staff and seeing your attrition rate creeping up, speak with one of our experienced recruitment experts who will give you an insight into the current candidate market. For more information about this article, or to speak to Claire about your recruiting needs in London or Nationwide, contact her on 02072696351 or


Create a culture where everyone has equal opportunities

There has been a growing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace over the years. This year it has been very refreshing to learn how firms are promoting a positive integration between work and life, to create an environment that influences career development and that empowers everyone. Furthermore, promoting an environment regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, disability, religion or sexual orientation,  encourages individuals to feel valued for being the person that they are. Take some time to read some examples of how the Big 4, Mid-tier firms promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Big 4 PWC        EY Deloitte    KPMG Mid-Tier Grant Thornton BDO      RSM Encouraging diversity at Pro-Recruitment Group: Here at Pro-Group, recruitment consultants are trained on diversity and inclusion and for each individual piece of recruitment we do, we will ensure that we present a diverse pool of candidates to our clients that match the brief. We have strict guidelines on equal opportunities and diversity and pride ourselves on ensuring our attraction methods reach as diverse a pool of talent as possible in-line with our client’s own policy. Some examples of this include:  - GDPR compliant recruitment website & CRM system. - Drafting advertisements in a way that encourages applications from all suitable backgrounds. - Support for the unemployed – offering interview training and coaching free of charge for those in long-term unemployment. We also provide business attire and dry cleaning in preparation of interview as well as working with a firm who work exclusively with ex-service personnel looking for employment. - Engagement with colleges, universities and schools. An example of this is when Tom Eagle, Associate Director, recently presented to students at LSBU about a career in tax and finance and provided key interview tips and guidance. - Engagement with groups such as LGBTQ, disability, communities and BEME groups. This is an ongoing progress and championed by our own diversity and LGBTQ champion here at Pro – Matt Davidson – Principal consultant in our Not-for-profit team. - Women in Tax – Alison Keogh, Director, is part of a network for women in the profession to raise the voice of women. We have also chaired an event with Sue Kukadia (Global Immigration Specialist) on diversity and inclusion and an event with BDO challenging views on disabilities and those facing long-term unemployment. - Our Not-for-profit and charities team have key relationships with many charities that exist to serve the disadvantaged and a wide section of the community and society. We regularly engage with our contacts in these organisations when searching for talent both for specific pieces and on an ongoing basis. - Our CRM system has over 90,000 candidates on it from a wide range of industries and backgrounds. Example of our own Findings Below is our analysis of that last six months placements around D&I and gender: - Out of the placements we have made this year in tax across both in-house and consulting, 65% of them have been male. - Out of 22 placements that we have made in-house 12 male and 10 female. - Out of 111 placements that we have made in consulting 64 male and 47 female. - Out of the 22 placements that we made in-house, from consulting firms only 3 were female and 5 were male. - Out of the other 14 people that we placed in-house they were all from in-house tax teams 7 were male and 7 were female. - In terms of advertising, 53 of the 111 were from advertising the rest were from pro-active approaches on our database and LinkedIn. - Out of the 53, 24 of them were female and the rest male but its about 50/50 from in-house and consulting. - Diversity and inclusion have a big influence towards my role and the relationships that I have with my network, to ensure that I can deliver the needs of both my candidates and clients that I am working with.  For more information about this article, or to speak to Dominic about opportunities that promote diversity and inclusion, contact him at


How You Can Make the Most of December in HR

 Christmas is always a tough time for professionals working in HR, especially HR Directors. As a HR recruiter, I’m always torn as to whether I’m looking forward to Christmas or not, from a work perspective at least. Whilst I must note that I absolutely love Christmas, it can have a negative effect on the workforce or those on the market. So with so much going on in December how do you keep motivated and keep productivity up at work in December? In this quick 2 minute read I'll look to give you the best ways to combat December head on, keep the best talent coming in right up until Christmas and ultimately start the New Year off in the right way. Christmas is a great time to plan for the year ahead and finish off any existing projects but for some businesses, Christmas can prove to be challenging. So what are the most common issues facing HR in companies during this festive period? Well, I've listed the top four positives and negatives that keep coming up when I speak with HR professionals: Pros Cons Secret Santa Recruitment delays which can lead to a negative experience for new candidates Drinking on a school night isn’t frowned upon Availability to meet/interview with senior staff/ key stakeholders is near impossible An endless supply of food on desks   Sickness Great morale  An influx of annual leave 1. Recruitment delays All the above in the “Cons” section are a recurring issue that several businesses face during the Christmas period, but for those who can combat the above have an excellent chance of starting the New Year on the front foot.  But how do you combat these issues? Whilst I’d be keen to hear how HR directors and HR managers combat Sickness and the flurry of annual leave, I have listed my thoughts below on the other areas:  Be clear on how desperate you are to get this person/s in;  Is it business critical?   What impact will it have if you push the recruitment into January? Do you or your team have the time and capacity to recruit this person? Do you have the budget to recruit and what is the difference in costs between recruiting direct or via an agency? 2. Availability Relating to interviews, is it possible to block out time in someone’s diary in advance so that you have pre-agreed interview slots? The further ahead of time where you can book such meetings the greater chance that candidates can make arrangements. Remember it's important to consider what impact a delayed or cancelled meeting may have on your brand or chances of securing the best talent? 3. Motivating staff It's imperative to keep staff motivated throughout December in the lead up to Christmas. With shopping, partying and socialising all ramping up towards holidays employees can sometimes check out both entally and physically. The best way to combat this is to try to create a fun environment. Having spoken with a number of HR Directors some of the best suggestions that I've encountered are: Team competitions Decorations Be a bit flexible when it comes to working hours – If people need to leave earlier or start slightly later, this can have a very good effect on morale. Gee up the troops! Set short term and long term targets and highlight wins, no matter how big or small   4. Plan your year While the new year may seem like a hazy dot on the horizon it'll come round a lot quicker than you think. Have a plan and get working on it so that when January comes around you aren't blindsided by a hundred different things and lose focus on the bigger picture. Discuss plans for next year and in particular what your staff's personal goals are. If you can visualise the end goal or measure the success, how are you going to get these?   What do you want to achieve next year? What do you want to change in your life? How are you going to measure success? What do you need to do for the remainder of the year to start on the front foot for next year? While it can be easy to let December slip away and get swept up in all the jollities of the season, being organised and planning ahead can really minimise the impact that Christmas has on your business. If you manage to really nail your HR functions in December ahead of the January rush then you'll hit the ground running in January.   For more information about this article, or to speak to Claire about your recruiting needs or HR jobs in London or Nationwide, contact her on 02072696351 or


The Big 4: Are the Auditors Ready to Be Audited?

With 97% of the UKs FTSE 350 companies currently being audited by just 4 accountancy practices, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has called for an inquest into the audit market. Recent high-profile failures such as the collapse of BHS and Carillion have only added to the growing concern that the audit market is broken and in need of reform. But how can the Big 4 put their best feet forward and show that they are doing everything they can to improve their auditing processes? In this 2 minute read I'll look at the feedback given by the Big 4 to growing criticism amid their auditing process and whether or not they're doing enough to answer their critics.  The so-called “Big 4” Accountancy practices PWC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY have all issued statements highlighting where they feel there is room for improvement.  "the audit function needs to change to improve audit quality" EY issued a public response stating: “In order to ensure capital markets are trusted and what companies report to the public is trusted, the audit function needs to change to improve audit quality and the audit itself needs to be modernised to meet public expectations. It is vital that this should be accompanied by further reforms to ensure healthy regulation fostering greater accountability of auditors and management, new corporate reporting rules, an enhanced audit product, stronger regulation and reinforced public interest. Reforms to audit alone will not restore public trust, sustained confidence or prevent corporate failures.” PWC focused their response around three key areas; quality independence and choice. These issues are “interconnected and will require a holistic package of measures to address them effectively particularly in the context of the wider global market. We also believe that the sequencing of those measures will be important in ensuring that the right solutions are put in place to support the audit of the future.”  Bill Michael Chairman and Senior Partner of KPMG LLP commented; The purpose of audit needs to evolve and quality needs to be enhanced to meet the challenges of evolving markets and needs of stakeholders; potential conflicts need to be demonstrably managed more clearly and effectively; and the market needs to be accessible and attractive to firms capable of delivering high-quality audits.  "there is no one simple or quick solution that addresses all of the CMA’s concerns"   Deloitte has acknowledged; “We are clear that there is no one simple or quick solution that addresses all of the CMA’s concerns. A small number of solutions that have been discussed, such as breaking up the largest four firms, would not solve the question of choice and will undoubtedly impair audit quality. Consequently, a constructive, aligned and complementary set of remedies is required.” It seems for once that the Big 4 are all in agreement! There does need to be wholesale and industrywide changes to address the public concern and restore consumer confidence. These changes must be implemented cohesively and with the support of the mid-tier firms who will undoubtedly benefit from the increase in competition that will be offered.  The future of audit is changing, to what we do not yet know. The market study is expected to be completed in 2019 and I for one will be interested to see their findings as to whether the market is working as it should be. 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 02072696369 or 


WEBINAR - How to negotiate a pay rise

We’ve all thought about it… asking for an increase in salary. Salary negotiation is a key skill which will help you throughout your career. Whether you’re a Solicitor or Accountant, a Tax Manager looking to get to Tax Partner, or just a Generalist HR professional exploring salaries in your current role, this webinar will give you some essential advice to plan and execute a strategy to help you get you the pay rise you deserve. This webinar will explore: How to successfully negotiate a pay rise in your current role and for a new job or role The 3 key things you need to do to prepare BEFORE you go in and ask for a pay rise How men and women approach pay rises differently and what you can learn from each gender How to calculate what you are really worth to your firm What to do if your firm doesn’t agree with your pay rise How to answer the question from a recruiter “what’s your current package?” When should you tune in? Thursday 22nd November 2018 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm GMT Join Heather Townsend and Pat Keogh and take away tips on how to best negotiate your salary and pay rise! Heather Townsend is the co-author of ‘‘How to make partner and still have a life’. She is the global expert in what it takes to make partner in a professional practice. In the last year, she and her team of coaches have helped several people make partner and worked with clients from all the major continents of the world. Pat Keogh is one of the founders and Managing Director of the Pro-Recruitment Group which was formed in 2007. As well as running the day-to-day business, Pat also recruits at Partner level across several sectors. He has an extensive network of Tax, Legal, Finance and HR professionals in both practice and in-house having recruited across several sectors for over 20 years. Can’t attend live? You should still register! We’ll be sending out slides and a recording of the webinar to all registrants.


5 Scary Candidate Profiles that give us the Fright!

It’s Halloween and the spookiest time of the year. However, some of these candidate profiles continue to haunt recruitment processes throughout the year leaving prospective employers howling at the moon. Below are a few examples of the phantom offenders that can keep us up at night. The Crypt The Cryptic candidate who holds back on valuable information. Whether it be parts of their salary package, dates on their CV, who else they’re interviewing with or the real motivations for leaving. Not only does this hinder in getting the candidate across the right positions in the right time frame but gaps on CVs will be picked up on throughout the process, references won’t correlate, salary negotiations will fall down at the end of the process and a level of non-commitment will linger throughout on all sides. The Ghost That great candidate who we’ve built up a good relationship with, registered and got the CV out the door to their agreed options. All is going seamlessly and then they disappear. Like a ghost they don't return calls or reply to emails, they can even fail to turn up to meetings or interviews, never to be heard from again. It, of course, leads to a barrage of calls and emails from us which is understandably even more frustrating and infuriates the employer too – who won’t forget very quickly. The Jekyll & Hyde This is the candidate who we’ve spent a lot of time talking to and even met, we know their backgrounds and aspirations, we’ve prepped them and sent them to the interview. Then a transformation happens to the candidate en route. Suddenly when it’s crux time in front of the interviewer all the preparation goes out of the window and the candidate becomes a different person. Overbearing, argumentative, unengaging, shy, or even beastly. The Swarm Beware of the swarm! It might seem like a good idea when first starting out on your job search to apply to many multiple agencies. However, this is a very diluted market and with your CV being sent out multiple times by different agencies it very quickly muddies the water with internal recruiters and employers. It is also much more difficult to keep track of where your CV has been sent, by whom and how you are being perceived. By using a specialist recruiter, you are sure to work closely together to approach each role specifically and to the correct line in a slicker process. The Witch or Warlock These are harder to spot at first. Excellent candidates boasting excellent CVs and experience able to bewitching throughout their recruitment processes summoning offers with the purpose of leveraging for counter offers, promotions and salary hikes. Whilst perhaps short-term gain, often this will lead a sour taste in the market and statistically, 80% of people who have accepted a counter offer will not be at their current employer in six months and 93% will not be there in eighteen months’ time. If you are reading through any of these and hearing yourself relate to too many of these traits and wondering why the recruitment process isn’t running quite as smoothly as hoped, then have no fear; we have a number of blogs to help with everything from preparing your CV and interviewing techniques to addressing the counter offer. If you're looking for an experienced Tax recruiter I recruit from Big 4 heads of departments to Tax Managers and more. With nearly six years now in recruitment and two specialising within London tax recruitment, my London tax network is expansive, interesting, varied and ever growing. Get in contact today for more information on the current market or a discussion about your recruitment needs.


Why I Chose a Career As a Finance Recruiter

"I made the right decision and I can’t wait to see what the future holds…" Having completed an intensive four-week training program designed to introduce new colleagues to the 360 processes of recruitment, Aaron Scott was given the task of choosing his sector specialism and ultimately his new team. Here are the reasons why he decided to choose a career in finance recruitment. After four insightful weeks, my rigorous training had finished and I was now a fully fledged Associate Consultant. It was time to move into a team and while for some it may have been a difficult decision, it was a no-brainer for me. I had known for some time that I had wanted to join Pro-Finance. I immediately established a great relationship with the team and they really helped me settle in and find my feet.  Whilst the Finance Team played a part in my decision, I believe the role itself was the most suited to me. I based this from my experience working with the team during my training, Finance was the industry I picked up the quickest and felt most confident about. I felt comfortable with talking to candidates and clients in the finance industry at such an early stage in my recruitment career. The team has such a diverse portfolio, recruiting Finance Analysts, Financial Controllers,  Accounts Assistants through to Audit Seniors. I’m now specialising in placing Auditors and Accountants into a range of Accountancy practices, from the Big 4 to specialist boutiques. Currently, I'm working with a variety of candidates from Trainee level to Partners. All of this ultimately made my decision a lot easier (let’s just hope I made the right one!) Since joining the team, it’s been intense but on a completely different level. To be honest, I don’t think I would want it any other way. I’m glad I have one industry to focus all my attention on now instead of trying to split my time between Finance, Tax, Legal and HR. I’ve learned more about the world of Finance and Accountancy Practices as well as the client side of recruitment. I can’t wait to start forging my own successful client relationships in the future. The training I've had at Pro has been excellent. We’ve had continuous monthly training sessions with Jim Atkins at Enabling Change which has been very beneficial. He has taught me so much we’ve had sessions on headhunting, candidate obstacles along with how to sell solutions to clients and candidates. He is truly an excellent trainer and I wouldn’t have progressed so quickly without his training. Thanks Jim! I made the right decision and I can’t wait to see what the future holds… If you're looking to make a move into recruitment, I highly recommend you speak to Loren von Sternberg, who can offer a great insight into opportunities available at Pro-Group.


Making the Move From Big 4 to Mid-tier: Genevieve Moore

I sat down with Genevieve Moore, Head of Corporate Tax at Blick Rothenberg to discuss the differences between the Big 4 and Mid-Tier Accountancy Practices. Genevieve made the move from Deloitte in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since. How does the culture at Blick Rothenberg compare to your time in the Big 4? I think size does lead to a different culture.  We are about 325 people now, across two offices and although we are growing rapidly, there is a family feel at Blick Rothenberg and I think this comes because you form deep working relationships with people, so you understand who they are as people and what is important in their life. This helps me manage staff better and get the best out of people, by understanding what makes them “tick” and letting them get on with what they are good at and enjoy. I’ve got to know people from other departments very well and worked closely with them, rather than only operating within one large Big 4 team. Our CEO meets personally with every new member of staff, and since his appointment in the role has arranged a half hour one to one with every member of staff to get to know them better and understand more about their views on the firm, their career and what we can do better. I can’t imagine many firms where the CEO would have this much involvement with the staff, but it certainly helps improve working relationships and staff engagement. Another key difference is the hands-on partner approach at Blick Rothenberg. I have day to day contact with my clients, from the first meeting to delivering the ultimate piece of advice, and all stages in between. Work isn’t over-delegated, and the partners are still tax advisors, not salespeople. We don’t have tax technical teams in London reviewing new legislation and sending out internal communications, we are the tax technical teams! This won’t be for everyone, and when I first joined Blick Rothenberg I opened my legislation more times in six months than I had in the previous two years at Deloitte. I really valued this experience and although I’m more involved in management now, I still have daily contact with my clients and the tax legislation! How does the quality of the work and team compare to the Big 4? I have clients which range from pre-revenue tech start-ups to UK listed (full and AIM), and international groups turning over billions. It’s certainly not true that a smaller firm doesn’t have good quality clients or work. Being in a mid-tier firm in London means we are well placed to attract excellent clients, and every day is varied with a number of different and unique situations for our clients, whether this is setting up a fund, helping a client design their overseas corporate structure, transfer pricing and supply chain advice, or implementing an employee incentive plan. One of our opportunities is that we can provide the independent tax advice for businesses which are audited by one of the Big 4 and need separate tax advisors, or simply want a different view. Many of our larger listed clients are audited by the Big 4 or Top 10 firms. The quality of the team is also very high, we have less staff, so it is very important to make sure we recruit the right people and that they will be a good fit with the team and the firm's values. One of the differences I have noticed is that we are very good at allowing people to do the things they are good at, rather than trying to make everyone the same, or push people into sales/marketing if that’s really not their cup of tea. This allows us to get the best out of people and retain our staff with higher engagement. What surprised you the most after making the move? I’d been told during interviews that Blick Rothenberg had an exceptional client base, but I don’t think I really believed it until I got there and started working on these clients, from top brands to household names. I was also pleasantly surprised by the pace at which you can get things done in a smaller organisation. Shortly after I joined I suggested when we should recruit some A-level students into the team, something which I had suggested at Deloitte and then been involved in designing and implementing their A-level recruitment path.  At Deloitte, it took over five years from the day I suggested it until they recruited their first A-level students. At Blick Rothenberg, it took less than three months! The same is true with new markets and business ideas, as a smaller organisation and fewer tiers of management, we can be very quick to adapt to change and access new markets and technology.    Was a move into the Mid-Tier a good move for you and would you recommend it? I had worked in the Top 10/ Big 4 for 12 years, always based in the regions before taking the jump to a mid-tier firm based in London. I’d done well in the Big 4 but it was after the jump to London that my career took off. In six months, I was made Partner, and two years later Head of Corporate Tax. The mentoring I have had from our CEO (previously Head of Tax) and the support from the firm has enabled me to really grow and develop as a person and I am sure I would not have been able to achieve all this if I hadn’t made the move to Blick Rothenberg. People shouldn’t be scared to leave the Big 4 brand behind them, the mid-tier firms do attract top quality clients, work and staff, but the environment is different to the Big 4 and won’t be suited to everyone. My advice if you thinking about making the move is to go and talk to them, there is nothing lost but an hour of time and you’ll very quickly get a feel for whether or not it is for you.    If after reading this, you’d like to know a bit more about what opportunities are currently out there then please do reach out. I am working exclusively with a number of mid-tier firms and as Genevieve has stated, there is nothing lost but an hour of your time to find out if this is the right career move for you.


8 Key parts to hiring, retaining and developing the best team around you

Recruitment Process We all know that hiring that amazing team can be a daunting task but we’ve compiled a list of 8 key parts to hiring, retaining and developing the best team.  In our experience, a key part of creating your perfect team is getting the decision right at this stage. A few very important things to consider are; 1. What Is Your Process>> 2. Take References>> 3. Hire People That Raise the Average>>  4. Its Ok to Ask a Second Opinion>> 5. Give Them Room to Grow>>  6. Show Them Some Love>> 7. Remuneration Fairness>> 8. Personal Needs>> 1. What is Your Hiring Process? - Ensure there is a thorough interview process, is just one stage enough for you to make an informed decision - Have the key people in your team met with and approved with your decision - Do you complete a competency-based interview, if not, know what your competencies are and test these thoroughly at interview 2. Take References - Have you taken references, not just HR references but have you picked up the phone to the person's old employer to see if there are any positive/negative indicators. (Ask at interview who the potential candidate would recommend you call from their jobs) 3. Hire People That Raise The Average - An age-old saying is recruit people that will one day be better than you, don’t be worried about people being better than you or wanting your job, they will make you look good if they come on board and do a great job. - Constantly look to improve your team, upskill and raise the average 4. It's Ok to Ask for a Second Opinion - Never “take a punt”, if you are slightly on the fence about recruiting then either it is a no or you need a second opinion, if you are working with a recruiter you trust they will  listen to you and will advise against a hire as they don’t want things to come back and haunt them at a later date if you get this wrong. Retaining the best team Companies with employee engagement programs achieve 26% greater year-over-year increase in annual company revenue, compared those who do not have formal programs. Staff members are just the same as you and I, think about the basics and put them into practice; 5. Give Them Room to Grow - You need to be able to offer development, opportunity to learn and interesting work/projects for them to get involved in. - Your best people are the ones that want to develop and better themselves, these are the people you want to keep, think back to the start of your career and how you went about developing and getting further in your career. 6. Show Them Some Love -  It’s the little things that count for many people, offering small incentives that can range from an early finish on a Friday for a good week's work, ice creams on a hot day, pizza lunches for the office right through to buying them and a friend/spouse dinner one Friday evening. 7. Remuneration Fairness - Do your research when it comes to salary, all employees really want is to be paid market rate and have fairness in accordance with the rest of the business, if you have huge disparities at the same level you will get disgruntlement and unhappiness - Equally, don’t become an easy hunting ground for your competitors, yes you do need to pay market rate but understand what benefits you offer over and above the salary - Consider car allowance, bonus, salary, overtime, holidays and pension contributions 8. Personal Needs - The biggest thing to offer your employees is an understanding of their personal circumstances. Having a genuine interest in their life, what makes them tick, is it the gym, their family, a sport or a hobby. If you don’t know this then you can’t meet their basic personal needs. - Most people in life need their personal needs met to the point that sometimes just allowing someone routine and time makes them very happy in their working life. Recruitment is a network of sharing knowledge so if you have any of your own groundbreaking tips I'd love to hear them. For more information about this article, or to speak to Alison about your recruiting needs, contact Alison on 02072696312 or


Growth in a flat climate

How do law firms plan to achieve meaningful growth targets in an era of what some commentators have described as “near-flat demand” for legal services? As the longest Bull Market since the Second World War continues unabated, the appetite for growth in the London legal market continues to remain at record levels. Firms remain open to interesting propositions on an opportunistic basis that may add new areas to their offering or strengthen their existing presence in core disciplines, as well as forming long-term views regarding key areas (geographical, sector, headcount) as priority areas for strategic growth. Whilst this continued optimism is always positive, scratching the surface of the market’s collective interest in growth raises a fundamental question; with the IMF forecasting an average growth of 2.2% in the Legal industry over the next five years, how do law firms achieve their ambitious targets for meaningful growth in a saturated marketplace without significant increases in levels of demand? Strategy, Message, and Buy-in Achieving the sort of growth targets firms have set will require a bold-faced attitude to hiring, particularly to lateral and team hires. Whilst there are “passing birds” in the market, achieving meaningful growth requires a more focused strategy. These “needle-moving” hires will not come knocking, firms need to be prepared to go out and get them. This requires the creation of a coherent strategy regarding priority areas for growth, and a commitment to proactively secure hires that will make a meaningful impact on headcount, sector presence, revenue, and of course, profit. Firms need to ensure that key internal decision-makers are bought into this process, and effectively “sell” themselves and what they can provide to potential groups of laterals, as a lack of clear direction and message can kill these processes in a heartbeat. Staying on Message When discussing growth, the question that firms often seem to lack a clear answer to is what type of growth they want to achieve? Is the consolidation of key sectors a priority? Addition of further international or regional presence? Or branching out into new areas that will form a more holistic offering to existing clients whilst adding new revenue streams? The reality is that the factors above are rarely mutually exclusive, and any acquisition will normally result at least two of these boxes being ticked. What is most important is that any extraneous factors are considered before conversations have reached too advanced a stage. This again relates to the creation and implementation of a clear strategy, as firms that enter “growth mode” occasionally have a tendency to follow too many rabbits down various burrows, which can result in the initial strategy for growth being lost within the process of adding numbers for numbers’ sake. Growth will come at the expense of competitors Part of formulating any strategy for meaningful growth must include a target list of competitors, and within that, a “wish list” of hires that will positively impact a firm’s growth aspirations. Firms with an appetite for large-scale growth must adopt a ruthless attitude to securing individuals or groups that will make this difference. Any meaningful growth in the current market will be achieved at the expense of competitors, and firms must acknowledge that a methodical, proactive approach that emphasises opportunity to laterals working for peer firms is by far the most effective method of achieving effective results in this respect. Are two firms better than one? As mentioned in the preface of this article, the IMF forecasts an average of 2.2% growth in the UK Legal industry over the next five years, but with one major caveat; a deal on Brexit. A no-deal Brexit halves this figure to 1.1%, further increasing the pressure on growth targets that firms are already feeling in the current market. Without wishing to sound glib, this begs the question that if consolidation and expansion remain on the agenda in the wake of the UK’s impending exit from the EU, particularly with growth forecasts halving in the result of a hard Brexit, would mergers solve the conundrum of consolidation and expansion in one fell swoop? Whilst a considerable number of firms have remained open to the possibility of merging under the right circumstances, a number of conversations that we have had with firms regarding active interest in merger partners show that attitudes to this sort of opportunity have increasingly begun to turn from passive to active in the last six months. This shift makes sense given both the market-wide appetite for growth and the intention of covering bases in the event of a period of uncertainty following March 2019. Mergers that can provide consolidation in key sectors and further enhance relationships with major clients also provide immediate meaningful growth across all key measurables including headcount, revenue, national and international reach, and internal network. This is said in the safe and certain knowledge that a) mergers are not easy processes to complete and b) mergers are also something of a nuclear option in terms of growth, however, the point remains that in terms of achieving meaningful growth, a merger partner may be an extremely effective option.


5 Need to Know Tips About Dealing With Your Sunday Night Blues

The weekend is coming to a close and that regular feeling of dread starts to creep in. Your head hits the pillow and thoughts of full inboxes, tight deadlines and demanding bosses are inevitably going to keep you awake half the night… Sound familiar? Most of us have felt this way from time to time. However, research suggests that over 75% of us suffer from extreme Sunday night blues which manifests into severe anxiety and depression about work the next day. This is a worrying statistic when it comes to the health and wellbeing of the workforce. This phenomenon doesn’t just affect senior executives; it can and does impact people at all levels of the employment hierarchy from Trainees to Partners. Even people who love their job can feel anxious about Monday mornings. Want to avoid this feeling? Try out the following tactics to reclaim your well-earned day of rest: 1. Don’t check work emails With technology at our fingertips 24/7, checking and rechecking your inbox can become an obsession. Research suggests that work emails can increase your heart rate as well as elevate your stress and cortisol levels. This can interfere with your body’s digestion and immune system, among other things, which is clearly not good for your health. Why not consider removing push notifications from your phone or closing email on your computer over the weekend? If you really must check them, try setting yourself a time limit. 2. Plan for Monday on Friday You may be desperate to run out the door for that first G&T but take some time to plan for the week ahead. Review and prioritise your calendar, write a to-do list, tie up as many loose ends as you can. 3. Understand the triggers It’s important to identify the root cause(s) of your feelings of dread. Is it your boss? Unrealistic targets or expectations? The commute or work environment? Try to figure exactly what’s making you anxious so that you can do something to resolve it. 4. Do more of what you love on Sunday Whether it’s your favourite activity, visiting somewhere new or simply hanging out with friends or family, try to make the most of your downtime with the people you enjoy spending time with. Exercise is also a great way to release feel-good endorphins and distract you from the blues. 5. Still not improving? – Time to change your job Life is too short to constantly feel a negative impact from work. If you have tried the above and things have not improved, it could be time for a change. That’s where we come in. Write a list of what you enjoy most and least about your role then contact a member of the Pro-Finance team. We can help you find solutions that will not only benefit you but also the people around you and your career!  



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