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Hello, a quick update on the recruitment market from me, Pat Keogh, Chairman of the Pro-Recruitment Group. January 2021 We've been asked recently by a number of candidates "What's the state of the Market like?", and if you know us, we cover the Tax, Legal, Finance, Marketing & HR sectors. All five sectors are really strong, and we've been really pleased with the number of new vacancies registered by the organisations we work with. Surprisingly, 2020 was a very good year for a number of our clients, especially the professional services firms, law firms and accountancy firms. Even a lot of our Not-For-Profit sectors and tax commerce and industry surprisingly had a really good year. And that's been reflected by their levels of recruitment. We have a large number of vacancies we are looking to fill. It's really a character of the market, and that might be a surprise to a lot of people, but candidates and those now looking for new opportunities now have a really good choice of roles out there, clients are really keen to recruit and some have really aggressive growth plans. Many organisations are seeing this time as a good opportunity to grow their business and grow their headcount. If you are looking and considering moving, it's definitely worth exploring the market. Do call us, do explore our website and you will be really surprised to see the number of vacancies out there. Come and speak to us. We will give you good solid advice. We will always give you the best advice as to your career options. Ot's definitely a good market, so definitely give one of our team a call.
Orla Ralston is the European Tax MD at OMERS, one of Canada's largest defined benefit pension plans. Orla speaks with Jay Sky, Senior Consultant at Pro-Tax about life at OMERS, her impressive career and the opportunities which have surfaced in the face of the pandemic. Who is OMERS and what does the tax team look like? We are a Canadian pension plan, serving over 500,000 pensioners based in Ontario that represent the retired employees of about 1000 municipalities such as school boards, libraries, police and fire departments. Part of what we do is to make investments that fund sustainable, meaningful pensions over the long term. Our asset classes include infrastructure, private equity (including ventures), real estate and capital markets. Our tax team is truly global and covers a wide range of activity. The Global Head of Tax is based in Toronto and our team is divided across the Americas, Europe and APAC and by function: investment tax; tax for the enterprise; and, tax compliance. Of course, none of these areas are mutually exclusive, so inevitably there is a lot of collaboration across the regional and functional teams. What does your role as MD of Investment Tax include, and what leadership roles do you play? I support our European businesses from a tax perspective on their investments – so I oversee European and UK-based tax professionals who focus on infrastructure, PE, real estate and associated European-wide issues. I also have a broader leadership role within the infrastructure business (beyond tax alone). One of the great things about OMERS is that we recognise each of us has something to offer. In my case, I have always believed that to do well in tax, you really need to engage with the investment team and understand their strategy, drivers, and the commercial rationale behind everything they do. This line of thinking has allowed me to bring another dimension to the leadership team and an element of influence across the London office. You have had an impressive career to date, having held positions in a Magic Circle law firm and a top tier investment bank. How would you compare life at OMERS to these earlier experiences? I joined Slaughter and May as a qualified Solicitor and learned my craft in practice. This involved learning the technical aspects of tax law while working on many different types of transactions, acting for multiple clients. I applied that experience in-house later when I worked at Goldman Sachs, and here - while I had the opportunity to make this role my own - there was already an established tax team within which I was able to develop my own role Although my initial role at GS was to support the real estate investment business (part of the Merchant Banking Division), I saw gaps and opportunities to support a newly created infrastructure business, and then, more latterly, their private equity and debt funds. This was a great experience and how I discovered and learned what it is to be an in-house tax lawyer, and, in particular, how to be commercial in that role. After more than 11 years at GS I had seen a lot of deal activity and was able to bring that experience to OMERS. When I joined OMERS, I was the first European tax team member (in Infrastructure & PE). What I continue to enjoy is the level of integration into the deal teams and the opportunity to have a broader role; understanding and working with the businesses strategically, not purely from a tax perspective. What made you join OMERS initially, and what might be surprising about the way the business operates? I had not been looking to leave my previous role at GS but OMERS clearly did something to convince me! First and foremost, it was the people. The calibre, intellect and friendliness of everyone I met at OMERS was appealing. Second the ‘pension promise’ was (and still is) a big draw for me. I loved every minute of my career before OMERS too – but knowing that your efforts enable people to retire with a decent pension is of massive importance, and I’m able to be a part of that. Pension funds might sometimes be considered less active but OMERS has always been and continues to be very active with direct investment and a focus on asset management and value creation at the core of its investment strategy. The degree of sophistication at OMERS allows us to be very hands-on, which always keeps things interesting. How would you describe OMERS’ approach to diversity and inclusiveness? We have always been proactive in this area. There are several employee resource groups at OMERS, but we see diversity in so many other ways too. In London, what I love is that you will hear countless languages around the office; we have a truly global team. We also sponsor events and initiatives which facilitate social change: in 2020 for example our CFO led an event for International Coming Out Day in partnership with OTPP and CIBC, and from London we were joined by Aisha Thomas, Founder of Representation Matters Ltd, for an event for Black History Month - both of these were very powerful. Inevitably, this conversation is a continuing one, but there is certainly a healthy dialogue on this. What has the response to coronavirus been like at OMERS, and what opportunities have surfaced? Our leadership has been very decisive and provided clear direction from the start. First and foremost, the priority was to keep our people safe, and we’ve seen that throughout all levels of the organisation – supported by a lot of communication from our CEO with whom I feel more connected perhaps than ever before. Our IT team enabled a seamless transition to work from home literally overnight, which has allowed among other things a level playing field in terms of connectivity – we’re all in a box on a screen. We have the same means to interact, whether we’re on different sides of the same globe, or different sides of the same office. We can’t replace the human element of interaction of course, but we can do the virtual interactions well and keep a transparent and proactive approach. Now we are reaching out to our people for their views on how we can continue what have been some of the more positive aspects of these changes. OMERS has a strong record of employee retention. What is it that motivates people to come to work each day? I think the pension promise has a lot to do with this – it’s not something we sit and talk about all day long, but there is this feeling of a common goal between us. In the tax team at OMERS, no two days are the same – there is just so much variety in what we do. Having just 4 of us in Europe means we cover a real breadth between us. We also have real autonomy and ownership. The organisation encourages an almost entrepreneurial attitude: ‘if you see something that makes sense to do, then go ahead and do it, show us why it makes sense’. You mentioned that perhaps one of the greatest assets at OMERS are the people – but also that this group is very diverse. So which type of person will fit into that team best? We encourage the mentality that nobody should underestimate what they can achieve and should not put themselves into a box. We are a team of people who want to make a difference – and while doing so, you can learn so much about investing, our assets, our portfolio. We invest in significant companies which matter in tangible terms – often providing essential services. That’s the joy of infrastructure for me personally. If you are curious, industrious and want to be part of a group who like working and having fun together, you might be a good fit for our team. For more information on this article, contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or email@example.com. Back to 60 Seconds archive >>
Michael Barnard is the Head of Indirect Tax at BlackRock, the global investment manager. Michael speaks with Jay Sky, Senior Consultant at Pro-Tax about life at BlackRock, his career defining moments, and the upcoming challenges facing the next generation of tax professionals. BlackRock’s size and stature is market-leading, and a brand name in the financial services sector, but for anyone new to this industry, what do BlackRock actually do? BlackRock is a global investment manager and technology provider. We help investors of all types achieve their financial goals. How would you describe working at BlackRock? BlackRock is a fantastic place to work. There is always something new and challenging to get involved in. There is a powerful culture of collaboration across the entire business with a focus on delivering on our clients’ needs. One thing that has really struck me about working here is the level of intellectual rigour applied to what we do. We question everything and whilst it took me a while to get used to this challenge process to begin with, I realised that once you embrace it, you see just how powerful it can be. BlackRock’s clear and vocal stance on issues such as racial equality, diversity and sustainability makes me proud to work here. What does your role as Global Head of Indirect Tax entail? My role involves setting indirect policy and strategy across all of our global business lines. This encompasses advising on the indirect tax treatment of our services and products, dealing with tax authorities and audits, ensuring the control environment around indirect tax processes for Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable etc. are robust and scalable and staying on top of indirect tax developments worldwide. I do a lot of work with industry bodies to engage with governments and tax authorities to try and help shape indirect tax policy. One of my main priorities at the moment is ensuring that BlackRock is prepared to deal with the digitisation of tax compliance - the advent of Making Tax Digital for VAT in the UK and ISI in Spain being two current examples. There will be a lot more of this in the future and we need to be ready. What type of person does BlackRock keep an eye out for in tax? There’s no particular type, rather we look for people who are smart, obviously, and who can communicate well. So much of what we do involves dealing with internal and external stakeholders and being able to communicate clearly and effectively is vital. Also, we look for someone who thinks beyond the narrow confines of tax technical issues – we need to see what we do in a much wider context and to be able to navigate the tax implications of events like the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and the sustainability agenda. What challenges do you see the asset management industry facing in the near future, and how are BlackRock dealing with these? In a tax sense, a big challenge is preparing for the tech enabled tax authority – being required to provide huge amounts of data in real time in numerous different formats. Also, navigating changes to the VAT regime as it applies to asset management. Both the UK and the European Commission have announced reviews of how VAT works in our sector. It’s vital to stay close to these initiatives and to provide constructive input. What career-defining realisations have there been for you, and what have you learned at BlackRock? I’ve learned that it’s vital to have a good network if you want to have a successful and happy career, and that building your network takes time and effort - but it pays back. Your colleagues want to help you – sometimes you just need to ask them rather than waiting for them to offer. Understanding that you are never the ‘finished article’ is really important. Always be ready to broaden your skill set. Remember that you might not be the smartest person in the room! Listen actively and learn. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something and be open to asking for help in understanding an issue. Taking some risks with your career, within reason, can have surprising results – in a good way. Learn how to distil complex issues into an understandable format for non-specialists. Senior leaders generally don’t want to go into the tax ‘weeds’ with you. Keep it brief. Your profile is a little unusual in that you never made the move into practice - you started your career at HMRC and have climbed to a very senior level in-house. How was the transition from HMRC for you, and what did you take from this experience? This was a long time ago! I enjoyed working for HMRC - it was Customs & Excise back then - and I learned a lot very quickly and worked with some great people. My time at HMRC gave me some useful insight into their organisation and processes which I think has been useful in helping me work effectively with HMRC officers since I left. The one thing I do remember is that the culture was different when I moved into industry, which took a bit of getting used to. However, looking back I realise that the culture shock was quite short-lived and the challenge of adapting to a new environment was something that I actually enjoyed. As the most senior figure for indirect taxation at BlackRock, how do you maintain your technical skill set? I make time to consume technical output from the accountancy and law firms as well as speaking to other VAT specialists in my network about current industry issues. I also try and stay close to what’s happening in our industry more generally, not just tax related content. I’m currently Chair of the Investment Association (IA) VAT Committee and also a member of the European Fund and Asset Management Association VAT Task Force (EFAMA). My involvement in these groups helps keep me up-to-date on a whole host of technical issues, not just VAT related, and puts me in contact with some of the best Asset Management VAT brains out there. What advice would you offer someone looking to shape enhance their tax career in asset management? Learn about the industry at a wider level – not just through a tax lens. A broader understanding will help shape better VAT decisions. Look to get involved in industry-level working groups – this will help build your profile, expose you to a wider range of technical issues and enable you to build your network. Be prepared to take some risks in order to develop. For more information on this article, contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Back to 60 Seconds archive >>
esIt is no secret that Christmas will be a different one for so many reasons this year. COVID-19 has bulldozed its way through our way of living and working the whole year and it’s ramifications socially, emotionally, economically and professionally will no doubt be felt for years to come. It is a very different December to last or to what we could have ever expected. Many of us are working from home in makeshift offices, meetings have become virtual and our business attire certainly looks different. Figures have come out to show that only 19% of companies have planned Christmas gatherings for staff (down from 71% last year who booked venues) and nearly 40% of British businesses have cancelled plans completely. This will have an estimated knock on effect to the hardest hit hospitality sector at a further £717million in lost revenue the average company spend on employees of £49.90 for their end of year celebrations. But that doesn’t mean that we can simply let COVID-19 become The Grinch who stole Christmas. Whilst the ‘normal’ Christmas party will not be going ahead, there are in fact a number of other ways to spread a little festive cheer, and this year we certainly need it! BDO has published an article detailing that in fact HMRC is offering some seasonal goodwill and is extending its staff parties concession this year to apply to costs associated with hosting virtual parties. These concessions will be treated the same way as if the celebrations were usually held; providing food, entertainment, equipment etc. It is important to note that HMRC will still be applying the very strict rules; The cost of providing the benefit does not exceed £50 The benefit is not cash or a cash voucher (eg a premium bond) The employee is not entitled to the benefit as part of any contractual obligation (including under salary sacrifice) The benefit is not provided in recognition of particular services performed by the employee as part of their employment duties (or in anticipation of such services). The good news is that much of the costs associated with your virtual office Christmas arty will be tax deductible as with previous years. Another truly Christmas - spirited and entrepreneurial idea to combat the cancelled parties is Xmas Party Heroes. This is a new campaign urging businesses to donate their redundant Christmas party budget to charity. For many businesses with an unspent budget it is an effective and simple solution which they may not have thought of. Any business can donate to any cause, all you do is let #xmaspartyheroes how much you have pledged so they can keep track of the running total (currently at £1,26m as I write this). Mark Hawthorn, CEO of Lanmark Group says “We can’t have an Xmas Party, and it didn’t feel fair to just retain the funds as charities are more in need than ever. So, we will simply give the funds (and more) to charity” Lastly there is of course the option to carry something over to next year where we can all come together and celebrate as one again. Celebrate Christmas, celebrate being together again, celebrate our hard work and efforts of 2020. This is the route we have gone down at Pro Recruitment and like an unopened perfectly wrapped present waiting under the tree that I cannot wait. However you are celebrating Christmas this year, I wish you a happy and prosperous one.
With the impact of the pandemic this year taking a huge toll on people’s mental wellbeing, myself and 8 others at Pro-Recruitment Group have decided to raise money for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) a small but growing charity, to support their campaigns, increase awareness, and offer our support. Sadly, suicide rates have increased dramatically in both male and female in 2020, with Male suicide rate being at the highest for two decades. CALM is leading a movement against suicide, the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. CALM runs a free and confidential helpline 0800 58 58 58 and webchat 7 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems, as well as help from other organisations. CALM has experienced a record surge in demand for our helpline recently… 37% more daily calls in the first week of the Spring lockdown, to be precise. That’s why, during this second lockdown, myself, Rebecca English, Jennifer Nelson, Kevin Racher, Ashleigh Polakiewicz, Dominic Watt, Chris Davey, Tom Eagle and George Tatnell are aiming to run 100km each during a 30 day period to raise money and awareness for CALM, and hopefully improving our own mental wellbeing at the same time! With fundraising events being cancelled due to the pandemic, this charity needs our help more than ever - help fund CALM's life-saving helpline and webchat. Just £8 pays for a call that could turn someone’s life around. We understand that times are tough, however if you would like to donate, please visit our JustGiving funding page, where any donation is extremely appreciated. Stay tuned to socials for updates on our progress!
With what has been a whirlwind nine months during this current pandemic, many organisations have adapted to new ways of working, new technologies and new work structures. Dominic Watt, Managing Consultant at Pro-Tax speaks with Karen Soo (HR and Recruitment Specialist) from PKF Littlejohn and discusses how they reacted to lockdown and getting back to hiring ways with a newly reformed onboarding system. The importance of a good onboarding cannot be underestimated. This is the opportunity for employers to ensure that new employees are engaged from the get-go. With hiring processes being both time-consuming and costly, it is an absolute must to prevent any early stage disengagement. In March 2020, the UK government announced a national lockdown and what followed was the largest economic recession since the Great Depression. It came as no surprise that recruitment freezes were seen across the nation. Uncertainty loomed and nobody knew what was about to be faced in the coming months. However, for PKF Littlejohn it was more of a pause and reflection before they turned the ‘hiring taps’ back on. The business had to face the facts that getting 100% interaction, as you do with a face-to-face onboarding, may be something of the past and had to act efficiently. With an already agile workplace and last year’s investment in a new IT infrastructure, PKF Littlejohn managed to adapt with ease and have really hit the nail on the head. Being in the mindset of embracing technology and moving with the times has certainly helped. In terms of change, they had an already robust onboarding programme for new starters but had to tweak things slightly. The most critical change was around “over-training and over-communicating, regardless of level of seniority.” Having more touch points throughout the day has ensured those new colleagues felt fully supported during those critical first few weeks. In addition to this, they continue to draw up fully comprehensive schedules and ensure all meetings are booked with relevant members of the business in advance. This even comes down to administrative support and IT to ensure everything runs smoothly, all voices are heard and due to them having an enhanced structured approach. With years of experience in HR and Recruitment, a key ‘top tip’ from Karen is to "work to the strengths of the technology available", even more so as we head towards 2021 and the ‘new norm’ to prevent the business from falling behind, the show must go on as they say.. Since lockdown, all the firm’s interviews have been conducted via Zoom. This has had a positive impact and improved the overall candidate experience. As well as this, interviewing processes have become easier with more general availability to arrange a video call over having to attend a face- to-face interview. In summary (with the pandemic not disappearing anytime soon) it is paramount to adopt crucial changes to business procedures, especially when it comes to the recruitment process and onboarding. At the end of the day, you do not get a second chance to make a first impression! Dominic is having daily conversations with many hiring organisations to ensure he is best advised on market situations. For any help with your recruitment needs, or further discussion on how to best onboard your teams, please contact Dominic on 020 7269 6310 or email email@example.com
Here is a quick update on the markets we cover from Pro-Recruitment Group's Managing Director, Pat Keogh. It's no surprise that all five of our markets, tax, legal, finance, marketing and HR slowed down earlier this year, but we were really encouraged when we brought everyone back fully in September, there were clear signs and green shoots across all five divisions. It was slightly stunted when we had to go back to a work-from-home strategy, but we are hoping that will lift soon. That said, all markets are still responding well. A lot of organisations are taking the opportunity to obnboard remotely. There are a few clients who are more gung-ho than others, and some a recruiting in serious numbers, which is pleasing to see. On the candidate side, unfortunately there are a lot who are now immediately available, through no fault of thier own, but due to current market conditions. There are plenty of skilled professionals who are immediately available, so its a great time to recruit if that is your strategy. We are producing a monthly market-tracker which will allow us to keep you informed of recruiting trends, covering professionals seeking new roles and opportunities available on the market. Do sign up to receive our newsletters. We haven't seen a single market without an increase, understandably it has been relatively flat market since March, but more recently we are seeing monthly increases in jobs being registered with us, which is very encouraging. The approach we have taken as a business is that we are looking to help kick-start the economy. Of course, whilst balancing the safety of our teams and those around us. We are currently working remotely, whilst allowing those who prefer to safely come into the office the opportunity to do so. This is paramount in us ensuring we are servicing all of our clients and candidates alike. I hope this gives you a bit of an insight into where the market is at. Feel free to pick up the phone to me directly, I am more than happy to share market intel and looking to share this information as regularly as we can. We are always here and our lines of communications are always here to help you with your reruitment needs. For now, stay safe and speak soon!
With many returning to work in the office, and new patterns of working emerging across the employment landscape, the Director Team here at Pro-Recruitment Group are sharing their experiences and insights around the returning to work post COVID-19 Alison Humphries, Board Director, shares her experience of returning to the workplace after maternity leave, and rediscovering the unprecedented new ways of working. Alison: I am one of the owners of Pro-Recruitment, I have been in the business for 13 years and been in the working world for 20 years without ever really having time off. I went straight from education to work, even in my teen years I worked on weekends. Other than a 2-week holiday or a few extra days over the Christmas period I am admittedly a bit of a self-confessed workaholic! In October 2019 as I walked out of the office I was about to embark on a new journey through maternity leave…I was excited, I was nervous, I was scared. I was about to have a baby, my body, my heart and my head were about to be turned upside-down and on top of that I had to relinquish control of my business . To say this was going to be hard was an understatement, as i've been involved throughout the whole 'Pro-Journey', but after working with so many experienced consultants and developing and training a knowledgeable Management Team, I knew it was being left in good hands. Fast-forward to January 2020 I’d given birth to a beautiful little girl called Charlotte, everything was starting to get back to normal and I was feeling like my old self. Everything at work was going so well, I had been into the office and all of my teams were reporting success. As an owner of the business I was keen to know how the company was performing (that’s the workaholic in me), so I had committed to attend every Board Meeting from January onwards and I was so pleased that things were going so well. Maternity leave wasn’t so bad…I booked myself and my daughter onto swimming lessons, rhythm time, baby sensory…you name it we had signed up for it. It was important to me that Charlotte was sociable from day one and that I made some mummy friends in the local area. My focus slowly changed and allowed me to realign myself from the workaholic and enjoy being a mother. The Unthinkable During the week we would stay at our flat in London and at the weekend, we would head to a place that we had recently bought in the Midlands as it was close to my family. On March the 15th I waved my other half off to work. Unexpectedly I got a call at midday, he was coming home that evening and working from home indefinitely. The UK was being hit hard by COVID-19, it wasn’t going away and businesses across the country were telling people to work from home. Luckily for us at Pro-Group, we already had the infrastructure in place for us to make that swift move without causing to much disruption to our day-to-day work. Pro-Recruitment made this decision on March 15th and then what was to follow was unthinkable. We went into lockdown on March 23rd. The range of emotions that followed included fear, anxiety and dread. I had brought a baby into the world and this was our generation's war. Were we going to survive, how serious was all of this if the world was now in lockdown. Pro-Group was impacted heavily, like everyone else in the UK, we were moved to reduce our team size, we had to think strategically, we had to act fast, we had no idea how long this was going to last and if we were even going to have a business at the end of this. I was being informed of decisions that were being made, furlough schemes that we were using and many other things that were impacting our business and we had no control over any of it. I wanted to be involved in calls, decisions, meetings that were loaded with information, but I also had a baby that was breastfeeding, teething and was struggling to sleep - finding this balance was challenging, but upon reflecting, it feels like an accomplishment to balance work and life as this extreme level. How could we make this a more positive experience? We had to make this a positive experience, it became apparent as places like Wuhan started to ease their lockdown that this wasn’t going to last forever, we would come out of the other side. I took advantage of the time that we had as a new family of 3. My partner was there for every bath time and bedtime, he was there when we were having a bad day of crying just to ease things for me, even if it was only for half an hour so I could shower and have a cup of tea. We took advantage of the late summer evenings and beautiful weather; we have transformed our garden and I have become somewhat a pair of “green fingers”. We made time for each other and made every evening a time to cook, talk and enjoy dinner together. We became really close to our neighbours and would now consider them friends. All of these things would be interrupted ordinarily by work, travel and other outside factors. August came around, before I knew it I was thinking about heading back to work on 1st September. Our business had halved, I had relocated and life was so different. I had to put Charlotte into nursery and think of a back to work plan. Given the amount that I had been in touch with Pro-Group whilst I had been on maternity leave we started talking about my return fairly early on. I had a plan, a strategy and lots of time to think about how we could get out of the other side of this pandemic. Pro-Group had been excellent in considering my return to work I have come back to work 3 days a week and 1 day is working from home. I have the full support of my co-Directors and walking back into the office on Tuesday 1st September was daunting. It felt as if it was my first day at school again, I was nervous, had I forgotten how to do this? Turns out I haven’t thankfully, in fact I am even more focussed now than I have ever been. With only 3 days a week at work every minute counts. I have to be extremely productive on those days, I have time on the train to work and think of ways in which I can help my team, I am refreshed when I get to work and I feel like I have a new found energy and enthusiasm to help my company out of a slow market and back to winning ways. In Summary Maternity leave was completely interrupted by lockdown and COVID-19, but I tried to make the very best out of a very disruptive situation. I don’t feel like I have stood still for six months, the world hasn’t passed me by, I have had time to re-energise, re-focus and be in a better mindset coming out of this. Whilst it saddens me that the business I have helped to build for 13 years has changed dramatically, I have managed to better my personal life in a way I hadn’t imagined I would. In my opinion, flexible working and taking into account a good work-life balance and a happy home life is the most important thing in the world and allows you to be at your best when you leave your house in the morning ready to face whatever the world throws at you. For advice and information about returning to work after maternity leave, or for a more detailed discussion with Alison about her experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 020 7269 6312
Without doubt, the last few months have been extremely difficult for everyone as we continue to adjust to the ‘new normal’ and remote working. As the UK slowly makes it's transition back to the workplace, with many employees returning from furlough, and organisations once again opening the doors to their offices, our clients have sought our opinion on how candidates are feeling and what is important to you as we begin to map an effective return to our place of work. Over the last few weeks, we have seen detailed discussions on how and when we begin making the return to the office and what the landscape looks like moving forward. Download of the findings of the report here >> If you have any questions or concerns about your return to work, please do not hesitate to contact Kevin Racher on 02072696321 or email email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Back to Tax Movers & Shakers Archive >>
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 email@example.com.
Robert Marchant is a VAT Partner at Crowe's London office, and leads the firms VAT work with corporate businesses and professional partnerships. He plays a leading role within Crowe's global indirect tax network, is a member of their European indirect tax committee, and has worked with clients across a wide range of industries from new start-ups all the way through to FTSE100 businesses. Robert speaks with Ashleigh, Senior Consultant at Pro-Tax about working at Crowe, the secrets to good leadership, and how to approach the first day of a new job. What’s your favourite thing about your firm? Crowe is on an exciting journey, both in the UK and internationally. The accountancy and tax services markets are going through a period of change where ‘challenger firms’ to the Big Four are emerging, and Crowe is in this group. In the UK, we have invested in new talent over recent years and I have the pleasure of working with a number of people that are excellent at what they do. On a global scale, our recent rebranding has brought the network closer together and this brings benefits to our external facing activities. What makes Crowe unique? The size of our firm means we are large enough to have wide-ranging technical expertise and geographic reach, but we are not too large that we lose the personal touch. Ultimately, I work in a people business, so I want to have a role that allows me to spend time with my clients and colleagues. What pet peeve do you have when interviewing? When candidates do not research the firm and/or the role. There is so much information available on the internet, it is easy for candidates to spend at least 15 minutes before an interview researching recent developments or articles connected with the role. What advice would you give to someone in day 1 of their new job? To engage ‘sponge mode’. Day 1, week 1 and even month 1 are all about soaking up as much information as possible about your new colleagues, new firm, new systems, new ways of working etc. From my perspective, I want to see that a new starter is engaged and interested (dare I say excited) about their new position, and being inquisitive is a good way of demonstrating this enthusiasm. What are the secrets to good leadership? I’m not going to try and pretend to be an expert in leadership! My golden rule, which is yet to fail me, is to treat everyone as I would want to be treated myself. We are all grown-ups and I try to treat everyone with integrity and honesty. How do you define success? “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. I think that success can mean different things to different people at different times. My kids often ask me if I had a good day and my answer can be shaped by the outcome of the smallest tasks as they may have been a particular objective for me that day. In judging success, I think that it is key to first understand your objectives and, when working in a team, its important to make sure that all the members of the team’s goals are aligned. What three traits define you? A little bit of talent, a lot of hard work and a dollop of good fortune! Being serious, I would say I am hard working, committed and prepared to lead by example. There is no task I would ask a member of my team to do that I’m not prepared to do myself. What is your personal philosophy? As I said above, my personal view is that there should be no task I would ask a member of my team to do that I’m not prepared to do myself. Who do you admire most in your industry? Rather than focusing on one particular person, I try to take the good bits from the many talented people I have worked with in the past. For example, there was a Partner who I admired for being able to succinctly communicate and address the issue at hand, and you knew that if he said he needed five minutes, that was how long it would take. I fondly remember a Manager who was excellent at networking and the Head of Security at my former firm who was the first person that guests to the office would meet and he would make everyone feel welcome. What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this? I’ve always joked with my colleagues that I would be a Postman! I’m a creature of habit and not adverse to walking! Most of my professional career has been spent in London, so I’d take on a job where there was routine and I was away from the hustle and bustle of the city. For more information on this article, contact Ashleigh Polakiewicz on 020 7269 6324 or firstname.lastname@example.org Back to 60 Seconds archive >>
Women get paid from the 4th March. That's right! On average in the UK women work for free for two months every year as a result of the gender pay gap! According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) that means that with the average working an unpaid 63 days versus their male counterpart, today; March 4th marks the day women start getting paid! The TUC analyses this further. Since the Equity Act came into force in April 2017, companies with more that 250 employees have been forced to publish their gender pay gap and it makes for some surprising results. Findings go on to show that there is still quite the discrepancy between industries. For example, education is an industry made up of 75% women, however the gender pay gap is 25.4%. This means that on average female teachers work for free for more than a quarter of the year (93 days)! Meanwhile, women in the financial and insurance industry could be looking at 123 days working for free a year, which would mean for these it would be 3rd of May this year before their pay kicks in vs. a similar male colleague. There are also findings to suggest that location also plays a big part in gender pay differences, linked to the concentration of industries in different regions. If the UK average is 63 days of comparative unpaid work, then the areas with the smallest pay gap are Northern Ireland (37 day / 10.1% ) and Scotland (52 days / 14.3%). The area that has the biggest gap is the South East where there is on average 20.5% gap (over a month's difference compared to NI). Companies are, in general, trying to close the gender pay gap and there has been a call for the workplace to recognise and help women with more family friendly policies. Employers are much more open to flexible working, encouraging parental leave and providing the same opportunities within the workplace. Pro-Tax are proud to announce that in 2020 to date, we have placed an exact 50:50 gender split into permanent positions. As well as this, Pro-Group is an inclusive employer and we are proud to have a female heavy employee base, with 50% women in management and on the board. We have also set up a new network for women working within the tax market - whether it be in practice, in-house, HMRC, support, HR or sales. This space is aimed at providing a platform to women working in the tax industry in whatever capacity so they can share insights and ideas, facilitate learning, development and further knowledge in a like minded supportive group through articles, discussions and events - if this is something you would be interested in please do join our network. (Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/04/women-work-for-free-for-two-months-a-year-says-tuc-analysis) For a confidential chat around what opportunities are available to all across the tax market, please contact Rebecca English on 020 7269 6320 or email@example.com.