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60 Seconds With: Marie Pearse, Head of Tax at Pennon Group PLC

Marie Pearse is a dedicated corporate tax specialist with over 19 years of experience - 17 of which have been in in-house roles, and Head of Tax at Pennon Group PLC since September 2017. Marie is ACA, CTA and AAT qualified with first time passes and has gained experience in a number of international and UK corporate tax areas. What’s great about working for Pennon? I like the exposure to the different sectors (Water and Waste Management) that it allows. Everyone here has a ‘can-do’ attitude and is keen to discuss alternative ideas and consider new ways of doing things if they improve on historical processes and procedures. How big is your team and what advice would you give anyone who would apply to be part of the team in years to come? Currently, we are a team of five but soon to be six as we are bringing in a Graduate to train up. With regards to advice to anyone considering applying to become a team member, I’d say get as much exposure as you can to as many different types of tax as possible. Also key now is to get experience in tax technology solutions, that’s an area which is becoming more and more important but there are very few people with this skillset on the market. When you interview someone for your team or organisation, what is the first thing you notice about a person and what does it tell you? It’s actually before someone even gets to interview and comes back to a person’s CV and/or covering letter. I want this to really demonstrate a desire for the role which is supported by some relevant experience. When it comes to interviewing, I’m keen to see that the candidate has prepared fully and thought about the key tax issues that the business faces. In your opinion, has the role of 'in-house tax professional' changed much over the years and if so, what is the biggest change? Things have changed massively over the years. Early on in my career the focus was on minimising a Group’s ETR and making use of planning structures. Now it’s much more about making sure you have good corporate governance and controls in place and you’re paying your fair share of taxes. Tax is much higher up the board agenda now which can only be a good thing. What challenges, personally or professionally, do you think the next generation of tax professionals face? Generally, I think there is a gap in the technology side of things, it can be hard to find people with good tax systems experience. The ability for individuals to multi-task across different taxes also needs to be worked on. With people generally become specialised the number of people who can multi-task appears to be diminishing. You have both in-house and private practice experience and a very impressive career to date. How was this transition for you, between practice and in-house? It was actually quite easy, helped by the fact that I made the move early on in my career and to a MNE that was then in its early stages, so I was able to grow with it. The difference between the two is stark but being inhouse gives you a much more commercial outlook and you get to see ideas through rather than giving advice and not really knowing what happens with it. I also don’t miss billing and timesheets! What advice would you give to your younger self? I would tell myself to get broader financial experience as I would like to consider becoming a finance director however, I don’t have as much experience in that area and switching to a role like that may mean taking a considerable downwards step initially. How would your team describe you? Reliable, organised, supportive, meticulous, methodical, happy to roll my sleeves up and forward-thinking are a few words they have suggested! What do you do in your downtime? I play in brass bands. I play the tenor horn and have been doing so longer than I have been in tax! It’s like another job with daily practice required and lots of travel. Sadly though, it’s unpaid. For more information about this article, or to speak to Marianne about your recruiting needs or Tax opportunities in London or Nationwide, contact her on 02072696319 or Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


60 Seconds With: Nicole Moriarty, Tax Manager at Revolut

Nicole Moriarty is Tax Manager at Revolut. Revolut launched in July 2015 with the vision of becoming a progressive financial partner and global bank. Nicole joined the company in October 2018 from Smith and Williamson, and has experience in R&D, capital allowance, VAT, UK direct tax and managing banking compliance. We spoke to Nicole and she has shared her thoughts on working for Revolut, her experiences working in an in-house tax role, advice for those looking to get into the industry, and challenges for future in-house tax professionals. So, for anyone who isn't aware: who are Revolut, what's it like working for them? So, Revolut is an E-money institution and challenger bank launched in the UK four years ago. We are an alternative to your traditional high street bank and have a strong focus on foreign exchange and crypto-currency. We offer a product and service that eliminates all of the crooks, creaks and inefficiencies that the current high street banks offer their customers at the moment. In utilizing tech, we don't have any high street presence and also allow people to be both more mobile and international. We’re all about the challenger bank mentality of giving the power back to the people. And in terms of what it’s like working for Revolut, because it's such a young company you get to see all of the products being developed from an early stage. You sit with the people who are developing the products and new offerings and get to actually impact these. For example, tomorrow I might be involved in reviewing the tax on how a new product is going to be offered to the market or advise on a contract with a new Partner. So in my role, it just makes what I do on a day to day basis more real and impactful. It's probably the most driven team I've ever worked with. Everyone is really keen to achieve their goals. People don't sit back on their heels and it means that there's a lot of collaboration so everyone just gets it done. You are currently expanding at a rate of 500% each year. What does this mean for your role, and what makes tax interesting here? Well, the first thing is that my job isn’t just about compliance. It also means that no two days are the same and the speed at which we’re expanding means that I'm also having to upscale my skills at the same time. I am expected to know the answer to a whole host of different tax issues and as we're expanding in so many different jurisdictions it creates a lot of unknown complications. So, our growth means that I'm having to learn and develop myself. And on the note of growth, you are hiring two roles beneath and one role above you as well, which is rather unusual. How has this been, and what have you learned? I'm really confident in my position at the moment, but I'm also very aware that within the next six months we are going to be operating as a bank in a vast number of jurisdictions, globally. And it's important to know where my limitations are and to bring someone in for the greater good of the team. From my perspective, having this expertise in the team will offer further risk-proofing and sound-boarding for my own development. What’s the phrase, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. The team and I need somebody to come in who knows the unknowns. What advice would you give someone who wants to be part of the team? I see a lot of people leaving practice to go into industry because they think it's going be easier, less of a challenge, or more of a relaxing ride. While this may often be true, my experience with Revolut has proven the complete opposite. So first of all, you need to be open to things outside of your job specification and to not just rely on the security of working within a box. You just really have to think outside of that box and get involved in things, maybe not even in the tax team, but in things which will eventually benefit the tax team. For example, I often help the HR Team with employee-related information because it then helps us with the employee-related returns. The advice of rolling your sleeves up and learning to get stuck in and collaborate as a team would apply just as much to a first-time mover from practice, as it would to a Group Tax Director from a really big bank. How was the transition in-house for you? The transition in-house for me has been great, and I think the relationships I have fostered in previous companies have proven very helpful in making this transition. My old colleagues at Deloitte – Kevin Cummings and Tyler O’Callaghan, for example, have been extremely helpful. Without these types of relationships in place, I would have struggled – you need to be able to trust your advisors well. How do you think the role of the in-house professional has changed over the years? I think that traditionally, the idea of the in-house tax professional was very compliance-based. And I think with the introduction of technology, businesses can obviously automise compliance with greater efficiency and with this, the in-house tax team is streamlining and becoming more advisory-focused. The second way that in-house tax has changed involves risk. Right now, tax risk is a big consideration for the board. So where previously people may have focused on being quite aggressive in their tax nature, it’s now all about how tax risk is managed in terms of policies, governance and the right frameworks. What challenges do you see on the horizon for the in-house tax professional? Well, I think the challenge is getting the experience in the right places. Moving forward, we need to ask ourselves where do the junior tax practitioners get their compliance-focused experience at the start of their career to then be able to take a step back and advise? For instance, does it make sense to go right from graduate to a transfer pricing specialist? I think this would mean a lot of grads and newly quals might step into tax without seeing hands-on the impact of changing just one number on a return. So the challenge will be a question of marrying up these skills, in light of growing tech advancements. We recently ran an interview preparation blog. What’s the first thing you personally notice about someone in an interview, and what might you be interested to read on? I’d say one of the main negatives is that candidates just do not seem to know their own experiences well enough, and also perhaps haven’t reflected on why they are applying for that particular company. As I said, the changing nature here and to an extent in any business means your role likely won’t be exactly that on your job specification every day, and you’ll need to do a little more. And to be confident that you are eager to do a little more, we need to feel that passion and enthusiasm in your reasons for really putting yourself forward for the company. I think for your blog, I’d be keen to read on what’s actually important to tax candidates when they are looking for new roles. I know what was important to me when I made the move, but that doesn’t seem commensurate with priorities for those in the market right now. Also, it would be good to get your insight on pointers on how to conduct the interviews in the best way possible – as in, what’s best practice in tax? Which role would you say you found the most challenging in your career so far? Honestly, I think I’d have to say that my experience at Smith & Williamson was perhaps the most challenging, but certainly rewarding. That's probably where I developed and grew the most prior to Revolut. I went from the Big 4 to a mid-tier firm, and it’s here where I acquired a vast array of experience for the first time for my clients. Going in as a Manager meant I was expected to know the things that you just don’t have exposure to in the Big 4. So the challenge here was a lot of independent upskilling, which made it all the more rewarding to see myself develop. When you’re advising a client with a mid-tier firm, every penny can matter to them and in this sense, they can expect much more from you. I actually think there’s a lot to be said for going into a mid-tier firm, and this can be a great introductory step into the in-house context. Where do you see your own career building? Honestly, it’s difficult to say. I've been here now for nearly a year, and it is probably the fastest year of my life. I used to plan the years in chunks of 3 – though I see the company growing so fast that I know that my responsibilities are only going to increase. Revolut is a great company because if I have a passion to get involved in anything, I can just put myself forward. The company is growing so fast that I'm growing at the same rate. For the first time, I don’t feel like I need to have a plan. How do you find your downtime? So, I do a lot of Yoga – without that, I would have cracked up some time ago. It’s important to have a hobby, passion or a side project. This way, work doesn’t become all-consuming. Even though somebody appears to have stolen my yoga mat this morning, that didn’t stop me – it’s as habitual as brushing my teeth. For more information on this article, please contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


5 Key Benefits of Working at a Big 4 Regional Office

There are many benefits of working in one of the regional offices of the Big 4. You will work with high-performing teams, a range of diverse clients and will gain the same professional qualifications and experience as someone in the same service line in London. Here at Pro-Tax, we work closely with the regional offices of the Big 4 and our regional tax recruitment experts have provided key insights into the 5 key benefits of working in the regions. 1. Broad scope of work Working in a regional office for one of the Big 4 can offer a broad scope of work. This is not to say that the quality of work will do down outside of the London offices - you will still work with massive clients but your scope of work is likely to be broader and you can expect to cover more aspects of tax, enabling you to build a broad and diverse portfolio. However, specialist tax teams are now pushing out into the regions as opposed to simply staying within London. M&A teams, for example, are building out in regional offices including Reading and Cambridge, so if you are looking for experience in certain niche areas of tax this can also be found in some regional offices. Not only this but working at a smaller regional office will give you the chance to work directly with more senior members of the team. This, in turn, means you will learn a lot and gain valuable experience that you may not have had to chance to experience in a London office. 2. Work-life balance Working in a regional office can offer a better work-life balance in some respects. You may find you have better working hours, and avoiding a 2-hour commute in and out of London will cut down your working day. Regional offices offer good car allowances and cutting out the London commute will also save you money, as will the lower cost of living outside of London. It is estimated that in areas outside of London the price of living costs up to 60% less - avoiding the high costs of London living can provide opportunities to get onto the property ladder and invest earlier on in your career. Regional offices also tend to offer a more relaxed culture in comparison to the London offices of the Big 4. They often have flexible and agile working benefits, and opportunities for dress-down or ‘dress for your diary’ policies, all of which contribute towards a better work-life balance. 3. Clear scope for progression Although there are more and more people choosing to work outside of London, the capital is still one of the top destinations for tax professionals seeking work. There are so many people in the London offices for the Big 4, which inevitably means more competition. In the regional offices, because teams tend to be smaller and less established than the larger London offices there are fewer people competing which therefore means a clearer scope for progression. There are still ample opportunities for promotion and the chance to build up a team in the region, but you most likely won’t find yourself in a situation where you are competing against ten other Managers for the Senior Manager position! 4. Exposure There is sometimes a perception that London is the ‘only place to be’ to get the experience to succeed in tax, but in reality, this could not be further from the truth. Yes, working in a London office does come with many positives when it comes to building up your experience, but so does working in the regions. Many of the large companies coming over from the US place themselves outside of the M25 - Cambridge, for example, is the base for many large tech companies. This is due to the fact that there is more space, it is not as expensive and it is still incredibly easy to commute into London. This, in turn, means that working in the regional office of a Big 4 firm comes with exposure to these large companies and there is a continuous work-flow coming to the regional practices. One of the Big 4 has estimated that two-thirds of their clients are served by regional offices - you will have a lot of contact with these clients and gain more responsibility which will only benefit your career. 5. Help the regions grow By moving to a regional office you’ll be using your knowledge and skills to improve towns and cities across the UK and grow communities of industry experts outside of London. You’ll be aiding clients nearby in growing and expanding their business, and business development is a large part of working in the regions. There is only so much expansion the London offices can achieve in terms of capacity, and you will play a big part in helping your regional office grow and expand. For more information on this article or to speak to Ashleigh about your regional Tax recruiting needs, contact her on 020 7269 6324 or


60 Seconds with: Michelle Deans, Tax Director at Gravity Media Group

As Tax Director of Gravity Media Group, Michelle Deans is responsible for the management of the tax function across the business. Michelle is an experienced Head of Tax who has worked across a number of industries as well as in public practice. She joined the Gravity Media Group in 2013 to establish the internal tax function. As an international tax specialist, Michelle has experience working in numerous tax jurisdictions. In your opinion has the role of the “in-house tax professional” changed much over the years and if so, what is the biggest change? The role of the "in house tax professional" has changed significantly over the years. In the early 2000s, a key responsibility of the tax team was to drive down the effective tax rate of a company using a number of widely available structures. In recent years the focus is more on compliance: ensuring a company is able to say with integrity that it complies with tax legislation globally and pays its fair share of tax where it should. You have both in-house and private practice experience, for you what has been the most challenging of all roles and why? Definitely in-house roles have been the most challenging and by far the most interesting for me. As an in house tax professional, you need to be able to intricately understand the business you work for in order to be able to advise on a variety of issues from the highly complex to the mundane. On top of that, you are responsible for ensuring your tax knowledge is up to date so that your advice is relevant. Gravity Media Group is extremely acquisitive how has this affected your role? The acquisitive nature of the business provides challenges but definitely keeps me on my toes! Our internal tax team has not expanded at the same rate as our business and we need to continuously find ways to streamline our processes whilst learning about a new division at the same time. Each acquisition has enabled us to expand our knowledge and has introduced us to some fantastic people. What is great about working for Gravity Media? There are many things, however, two that stand out are the people and the interesting nature of our work. I work within a strong and supportive leadership team and genuinely enjoy the company of my colleagues across the board. That is important to me. In addition, as we operate globally in the live entertainment and broadcast industry, you never know what you are going to be called upon to look at next: the tax implications of a major football tournament in a country we don't have a presence in, supporting the team on 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here..' or evaluating the tax implications of a potential acquisition. How big is your team and what advice would you give anyone who would apply to be part of the team in years to come? We have three tax advisors for the group, including myself. We also rely on the support of our strong financial directors in each of our key jurisdictions. Advice for future team members? Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty and dig into the detail to really understand the business - that's when you give the best advice. How would your team describe you? Commercially minded, expressive, supportive and thought-provoking. What advice would you give to your younger self? Don't sweat the small stuff, it will work out in the end. Focus on where you want to be in the long run and plan how you might achieve it. Deal with each issue as and when it arises. When you interview someone for your team or organisation what is the first thing you notice about a person and what does it tell you? Body language. Good eye contact and a quietly confident manner speak volumes about a person's ability to deal with our commercial teams, which is an integral part of our role. What challenges, personally or professionally, do you think the next generation face? I think the next generation faces the challenge of overcoming the 'snowflake' stereotype, which certainly doesn't hold true in my experience. Also, we are seeing the increase of part-time and flexible working practices across the board, particularly with the younger generation. It will be fantastic to see this generation demonstrate that creating value doesn't necessarily require full-time presence in an office during standard hours and that there are more flexible ways to deliver value. Thanks for your time Michelle, and as a little treat for all of our readers…do you have any guilty pleasures you can share with us? My colleague suggested this must be my love of reading tax legislation in the middle of the night, but no, I have a (previously) well-hidden love of country music! For more information about this article, or to speak to Alison about your recruiting needs or Tax opportunities in London or Nationwide, contact her on 02072696312 or Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


July 2019: Tax Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the tax sector. Here are the key movements in July 2019: PRACTICE LONDON AND CITY Partners PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has announced changes to the leadership of its core business divisions with effect from 1st July 2019. Marissa Thomas takes on the leadership of the tax practice after two years leading deals. PwC has announced a number of promotions to equity Partner in London with effect from 1st July 2019. In the tax team they are: Amal Larhlid (tax national), Andrew Norris (tax CPIT IF100 inbounds), Andy Rosam (tax FS & deals), Cynthia Chan (tax and legal), Debbie Ransom (tax CPIT IF100), Duncan Nicholls (tax people & organisation), Emma Canavan (tax regions, private business), Jon Page (tax FS & deals), Lindsey Barrass (tax and legal), Natalie Nash (tax people & organisation), Peter Churchill (tax FS & deals), Robert Gooding (tax FS & deals), Sharan Kundi (tax and legal) and Tom Williams (tax and legal). Also in London, Tamsin Tinsley (technology & investments) has been promoted to equity Partner. Grant Thornton has appointed Michael Radcliffe to lead its dispute advisory practice in London. He has experience working across a variety of sectors including extractive industries and financial services. Kingston Smith has appointed John Hood, a tax dispute specialist as a Partner from Gabelle LLP. Haysmacintyre has announced the appointment of Jeremy Beard who has been with the firm for 24 years as the new Managing Partner of the firm with effect from 1st July 2019. He will be joined on the new management board by Andrew Broome (head of services), Anna Bennett (head of operations), Natasha Frangos (head of corporate), Richard Weaver (head of not-for-profit), and Simon Wilks. Senior Appointments Cooper Parry has appointed two senior R&D specialists. Ece Akser and Jonny Brewster have both joined from Ernst & Young (EY). SOUTH EAST Partners PwC with effect from 1st July 2019 has announced a number of promotions to equity Partner, including Daniel Thompson (tax regions, inbounds) and Erika Campbell (tax people & organisation) in the South East. SOUTH WEST Partners Thomas Westcott has appointed Shona Godefroy as Managing Partner. Godefroy takes over the leadership of the practice from chairman Richard Thomas, who founded the firm in 1985. Godefroy joined the firm in 2007 from Ernst & Young (EY). Senior Appointments Deloitte has promoted five Directors in the Bristol office including Dan Pople (private tax), and Tom Smith (employment tax). Baldwins has acquired Kelsall Steele Chartered Accountants, based in Truro, and Perrins Chartered Accountants, based in Barnstaple. Both firms have changed their names to Baldwins and staff will remain at their existing offices. MIDLANDS AND THE EAST Partners PwC in the Midlands has announced a number of promotions to equity Partner with effect from 1st July 2019, including Matthew Grant (tax FS and deals, real assets). Deloitte has promoted Suzanne Tilstone (tax) in the Nottingham office. Newby Castleman has promoted Joanne Chilton who provides audit and tax compliance to Partner. Senior Appointments Deloitte has made a number of Director promotions in the Birmingham office: Matthew Davies (tax), Kath Hall (tax), Adam Kirkpatrick (tax) and Jon Taberer (international tax). Lovewell Blake has announced the appointment of two new Managers at its Norwich office. Shaun Davison has a dual role at the firm, splitting his time between supporting the medical tax team, and the tax consultancy team. Sophie Palmer began her career in industry before joining Lovewell Blake’s medical team. DSR Tax Claims has appointed Laura Smurthwaite as a tax compliance officer. YORKSHIRE AND HUMBER Partners PwC has announced Susie Holmes (tax regions) has been promoted to equity Partner in Yorkshire and the North East. Senior Appointments KPMG has made four Director promotions in the Leeds office including Luke Sheriff, a member of the tax practice, specialising in innovation incentives and reliefs, particularly research and development tax credits. SCOTLAND Partners PwC have announced the promotion of Craig French (tax regions, inbounds) in Scotland to equity Partner with effect from 1st July 2019. Johnston Carmichael is appointing a new CEO and chair on 1st August 2019. Andrew Walker will take over from Sandy Manson, who has held the role for 12 years. Campbell Dallas has appointed David Booth (Aberdeen Office) and John Gold (Sterling Office) as Partners with effect from 1st July 2019. Booth is a chartered accountant specialising in advising owner-managers and private equity-backed businesses. He joined Gold as a chartered accountant and a chartered tax adviser, specialising in advising SMEs and owner-managers on tax and financial strategies including succession planning, IHT and wealth planning. WALES Partners Deloitte has promoted Tess Williams to tax Partner in the Cardiff office. Williams, who leads the global employer services practice in Wales and the South West, has been with both Deloitte and PwC. Clive Owen & Co LLP has appointed Rob Whitehead as a Partner in the York office. FCCA qualified, Whitehead has more than 30 years’ experience in regional accountancy firms, specialising in audit, accounts, business planning and tax. Senior Appointments Deloitte has promoted three tax Directors in Cardiff. Jamie Bedford, who has been with Deloitte for four years, focuses on international tax and transfer pricing. A member of the tax management consulting team, Jo Hale joined Deloitte in 2015 from Smith & Williamson, where she spent eight years. Debbie Hatherell is a director in the firm’s indirect taxes team with a particular focus on the aerospace and defence sectors. COMMERCE & INDUSTRY Ben Baldry has been appointed the Global Head of Tax at Dunnhumby. He trained at Moore Stephens and spent nearly 8 years in the team at Tesco where he was most recently Head of M&A Tax before making the move. Spire Healthcare have brought in Nicola Harvey at a senior level as Head of Financial Reporting & Tax. After training in practice, Nicola has enjoyed in-house roles with Micro Focus, Capgemini and Vectura Group respectively. Peter Cass is the new Tax Manager at CMS. Peter is a vastly experienced partnership taxes specialist demonstrable during his time with Deloitte, RSM and Grant Thornton. He subsequently took his skills in-house with Addleshaw Goddard before his most recent move. 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 Back to Tax Movers & Shakers Archive >>


60 Seconds With: John Powlton, Head of Real Estate Tax at M&G Investments

John Powlton is an ICAEW qualified Chartered Accountant and has an Advanced Diploma in International Taxation from the Chartered Institute of Taxation. John has over 10 years experience and joined M&G Prudential as Head of Real Estate Tax in July 2018, and is responsible for tax in relation to M&G's real estate activities worldwide. What’s good about working for M&G? M&G Real Estate is one of the largest real estate fund managers in the UK. Increasingly very global, it's an exciting place to work and very dynamic. We invest across all asset classes and that keeps it really interesting – you don’t know what’s coming next! Perhaps our biggest strength is our team, we have really good bunch of people, including a great tax team. Our team has very varied backgrounds and we work together in a way which is very supportive. It’s helpful to have good team support to draw on in an area as complex as tax. Some of our readers will be looking at M&G Prudential as a prospective applicant. What kind of person fits into the team? A person who is willing to get stuck in to work which may be new to them and out of their comfort zone. We have a wide range of responsibilities here as a result of the diverse portfolio and lots of changes in tax law over recent years and an array of structures and jurisdictions to work on. So enthusiasm rather than detailed knowledge of every tax issue in the world is perhaps the most important thing. To work here, you need to really enjoy being part of the team and show interest in both the business and where you think real estate as an asset class, and the taxation of real estate, is going. We don’t expect everyone to know everything about the topic, but we do expect them to have done some homework and show enthusiasm to get involved. What’s the first thing you notice about an interviewee? Genuine interest and enthusiasm are the first two characteristics I look for. You want people to show a real interest in the topic of real estate and the associated tax issues, be they international, domestic, transfer pricing or anything else. If you’re passionate about your topic, it just shines through when you speak about it. So what I look for first and foremost is enthusiasm and interest. As a business, where are M&G Prudential at currently? So about 18 months ago Prudential Plc announced that M&G Prudential was demerging and would be re-listing as an independent, standalone entity. This makes it a really exciting time for the business as it focuses on the core strengths of the M&G Prudential group, of which M&G Real Estate is a part. There are lots of changes in the business presently as it prepares for life as an independent business – plenty of the associated work is being done in-house, which makes this a very interesting time to be with the business. What do you see as the key issues in the real estate industry at the moment? The real estate investment industry is continuously subject to change as a result of wider socio-economic, demographic, environmental and other changes in society and it continues to evolve. An interesting aspect of the work we do in the Real Estate tax team is that we see the results of those changes in the assets we invest in and the nature of the funds being launched. Key issues include the influence of climate change on building design, the rise in online shopping and the consequent impact on demand for retail/logistics properties as well as the increasing prevalence of ‘agile’ working and what that means for demand for office space. How was the move from practice for you? I really enjoyed it. When you’re in-house the breadth of what you get involved in typically is a lot wider than when you're in practice. Pretty much anything with the word tax involved can come across your desk in-house – plus a lot more! When you’re in a practice environment, you typically have a more structured career path and you tend to specialize more and more in just one area as you get more senior. In-house you can get involved in all kinds of different things and learn a lot about the commercial aspects of a business and I really enjoyed that part when I made the move. Like many, I’ll say that it’s certainly challenging making that first-step when there’s not the framework of the practice environment around you. When something comes up in-house, you need to just roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. And you obviously have international practice experience also, between Luxembourg and Qatar. So your experience is a little different in this sense – what did you learn from these international movements? I loved working internationally and I would recommend it to anyone. It’s a bit of a shock to the system when you first land, because you find a degree of both personal and corporate culture shock, but you also learn pretty quickly how to adapt your style and to get things done. You learn a lot about how business is done in different countries and you need to stay open-minded and not get frustrated when things don’t work exactly in the way they would back home! Personally, we had a great time living and working overseas and made great friends and saw some fantastic places – coming home after almost 9 years was almost as much of a shock as leaving! Do you think that moving internationally helped you become more adaptable today? Yes, I think having gone through those personal and corporate adjustments may have helped in becoming more adaptable. There was certainly a fear that being outside of the UK might make it difficult to come home again, given that taxes are nationally specific and specialised. However, certainly in my current role which means I deal with lots of international matters it has helped me significantly in terms of trying to anticipate where and how issues may arise. What attracted you to the real estate space? The reason I like working in real estate is that it’s so tangible. I find it difficult to relate to abstract financial investments, but with real estate it’s instantly relatable as we all work, live, shop and socialise in and around buildings. So we can all understand what makes a good shopping centre for instance. I enjoy that because we facilitate the investment and divestment of assets that we can all relate to. How do you think the perception of the in-house tax professional has changed over the years? Increasingly the in-house tax professional has to be very closely aligned to the business they're advising – it is no longer sufficient just to be knowledgeable about technical tax. Tax has got so much more complex and so much more embedded both in business process and in investment decisions and consequently if the tax function is not embedded with the commercial team then one day or another you'll discover significant tax issues have been springing up and dealing with them after they’ve arisen is always more difficult! So, hopefully, the perception is that in-house tax can be a business enabler, risk manager and is an essential function to be included in the commercial processes rather than being simply a technical tax reference resource in the corner of the office. On this note, what do you think the next generation of tax professionals face? The next generation has to ensure that they adapt as the world of tax continues to change very quickly and it is increasingly a story of digitalisation and systemization. The future tax professional has to understand that change and be ready to embrace that change. Advice will continue to be very important, of course, but increasingly, understanding how our advice turns into business processes to ensure compliance and reporting obligations are met is fundamental. So every tax adviser now should also be focussing on the need to diversify their understanding away from solely a technical tax remit, learning about systems and business processes and ensuring they know how to partner with varied stakeholders across their business. What do you do to unwind? Realising my arrival into early middle-age I started long-distance running a couple of years ago so have completed a number of half marathons and two marathons in the last 3 years. I also try to play (and generally lose!) at squash once a week or so. We’re writing a blog series on candidate and client-led topics. What might you be interested to hear about from us? Well perhaps about the perceptions of the profession itself, in particular amongst graduates and school-leavers entering the workforce. The public perception and the profile of tax has changed massively over the course of my career and it would be interesting to see what people perceive about a potential career in tax and the skillset required to be successful. Is there any advice that you'd give to your younger self, at the start of your career? Don’t be afraid to ask the ‘stupid questions’ – I have learned over time that it is by far the best way to truly learn about a topic! For more information on this article, contact Jay on 020 7269 6343 or Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


Newly qualified CTA's: 5 Tips to Improve Your Job Search

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


60 Seconds With: Nick Watson, Head of Tax at IHG

Nick Watson is the Head of Tax at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). Boasting an 18-year career at IHG, Nick made a cross over from Tax into Global Finance Transformation, before moving back and becoming Deputy Head of Tax in 2015 and promoted to Head of Tax for IHG in 2019. What is great about working for IHG? I’ve worked for IHG for 18 years, since leaving Arthur Andersen in Birmingham. IHG has a fantastic culture which supports its people really well – this is probably not surprising given we are in the hospitality business and therefore have a natural affinity with providing great service to people. You were promoted to Head of Tax earlier this year. How are you finding this new challenge? So far so good, although I fully appreciate I have some big boots to fill from my predecessor. One of the biggest challenges is managing teams across five time zones and trying to put my emails away when at home as a result. You have had an impressive career boasting some 18 years at InterContinental Hotels Group (“IHG”) with a variety of roles. Most interestingly you made a cross over from Tax into Global Finance Transformation (before moving back to Tax) – this must have been quite a challenge, can you talk us through why you did this and the challenges that you faced? Yes, around 12 years ago I had actually agreed to take up a Head of Tax position for a FTSE250 company. Disastrously the company I was moving to announced it was undertaking a merger (after I’d signed the paperwork!) and so my new job disappeared. Following a subsequent discussion with IHG’s Head of Tax and Group CFO, I was offered a role in IHG’s newly formed Global Finance Transformation (“GFT”) team. In that role, I was responsible for working with IHG’s Finance Leadership Team to set the overall strategy for our Global Finance function (approx. 1,000 colleagues worldwide). I also ran the programme management for key Finance projects, organised Global Finance conferences and led Global Finance Communications. I remember the transition out of tax at the time being quite scary in as much that I found myself in a totally new world, trying to learn as fast as I could on topics (e.g. budgeting systems, planning processes) that I was not that familiar with. I also realised that my network was nowhere near as wide as I thought it was when I was in Tax! I took away two key learnings from this experience – firstly, NEVER leave a job/employer on negative terms as you don’t know what the future may hold and, secondly, you CAN survive the unknown! So what made you move back to Tax? In 2013, at one of the Global Finance conferences that I organised, our Group Chairman was talking about his career and I picked up on a comment about not being scared to go for a higher position even if you doubted your ability to succeed. He made the point that if you didn’t feel scared about a new position, then you were probably not taking on the best move. With this in mind, I thought that with the skills I had accumulated outside of Tax, together with a tax-focused development plan, I could be a credible successor at some point in the future for the Head of Tax role. Once again, IHG were supportive of my ambition and enabled me to transition back into the tax team over a couple of years, before becoming Deputy Head of Tax in October 2015. Adjusting back to life in Tax wasn’t as hard as I had imagined, although this was largely because I re-joined at a time when the whole tax world that I had previously known was changing, and I was afforded the opportunity to pick up with the (then) new areas of BEPS, tax transparency and responsible tax practices. The hardest aspects have been catching up on internal transactions that I didn’t work on during my time in GFT. In your opinion has the role of the “in-house tax professional” changed much over the years and if so, what is the biggest change? The fundamentals of the role have largely remained the same, but at the same time, there have been some quite substantial changes in recent years. Firstly, we have seen a move to outsource our UK corporate tax compliance over the last 10 years or so, in order to free up time of our team members (who very often have group responsibilities as well as project work). Tax professionals need to now be much better at communicating tax to key stakeholders in their respective businesses, particularly at the more senior levels. Stakeholders do not need to know all of the technical details (and especially not section numbers from the tax legislation!), but instead, need to know the high-level tax risks that arise in their areas. Finally, there is now a lot more regulation that tax teams have to deal with. Not only a raft of new legislation (e.g. US tax reform, CCO rules etc.) but also ensuring that adequate controls are in place, as well as the right level of supporting documentation. Can you talk us through the structure of your team? Given IHG are based in 100+ countries the tax team must be quite complex? We have a team of approximately 60 tax professionals in our team worldwide, with around half of the team focusing on indirect taxes (VAT, US Sales Tax, GST etc) and the remainder on direct taxes (global corporate taxes and European employment taxes). Our teams are based in Burton upon Trent, Atlanta, Gurgaon (near Delhi), Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. What do you look for when someone applies for a role within your team? Personality. Always. It’s no good being the smartest person on the planet if you cannot interact well at a human level. I therefore look for a good balance of IQ and EQ. Being a FTSE100 Group with a base in the Midlands, we usually have a good range of applications for new roles. How would your team describe you? Hopefully as someone who is calm and approachable. What advice would you give to your younger self? I wish I had invested in Apple and Microsoft 25 years ago instead of a load of useless dotcom companies that didn’t survive! Other than that, my advice would be to enjoy being young and take whatever opportunities come your way. What challenges, personally or professionally, do you think the next generation will face? On a personal level, I feel for young people who are trying to get their feet onto the property ladder – it must be incredibly difficult. Professionally, and particularly with the incredible pace of technological change, I can see even more candidates chasing the same job opportunities. What do you do to unwind outside of work? I am an avid Leicester City football fan and also manage my 8-year-old son’s under-9 football team. When I’m not doing either of these things, I’m probably out watching my 13 and 16-year-old sons playing for their football teams! Thanks for your time Nick, as a little treat for all of our readers…do you have any guilty pleasures you can share with us? Hmm… well don’t try and book time in my diary at 9.30 on a Friday morning as I will be tucking into a good old English breakfast at the office. For more information about this article, or to speak to Alison about your recruiting needs or Tax opportunities in London or Nationwide, contact her on 02072696312 or Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


Tax Practice vs. Industry: The Big Debate

As a tax professional, you will inevitably come up against the decision of whether to build a career in practice or to move into an industry role. Both have their pros and cons, and your decision will ultimately come down to what type of person you are, what is important to you in your career, and your long-term goals. Making this decision can often be difficult as roles in practice and industry both have a lot to offer, but our specialist tax recruiters have put together key advice to help you make an informed decision! ​ Type of Work The type of work can differ quite significantly between tax roles in practice and in commercial business’ and the type of work your role will entail will depend on the company. In practice you are likely to specialise in one specific area, whether this is corporate tax, investigations, personal tax or VAT etc. A positive of this us you become a real deep tax specialist and have the ability to work on a variety of clients, often in varying sectors. On the other hand, working in-house allows you to fully immerse yourself in one business and look at the company in its entirety. You will be working in a more commercial role and get closer to the business and see how different departments interact, such as legal, sales, finance and tax, and in this way, an in-house tax position can perhaps offer a broader role. Another point to consider is whether you are looking for a role that is highly client facing. If this is the case and client interactions are something you enjoy, a role in practice is likely to suit you. However, with this also comes client pressures. Timesheets and billings are a necessary part of a tax role in practice and is one of the biggest reasons why people choose to move in-house. Due to the nature of an in-house role, it is rare that you will have timesheets or financial targets, and typically you will have more autonomy over your work, with your working environment often more relaxed due to the absence of client pressures. Lastly, if you are looking to be involved with the business development side of the firm you work for, you are best to seek a role within practice as opposed to in-house. Business development is a big part of working in a tax practice role, especially as you moe up the food chain, as you will focus on building and maintaining client relationships while with an in-house role, you will instead focus on raising the profile of the tax team within the wider organisation. Salary & Benefits When it comes to benefits, a role in a well-established practice with defined risk & reward teams will see you receive a healthy remuneration and benefits package. Working for a commercial business, whether this is a FTSE 100, US-listed or Fortune 500 business, you will receive not only a good remuneration package but also additional benefits including flexible working and commercial discounts. Differences in salary between in-house and tax practice roles depends on the level you reach within your company. Initially, although you may be willing to take a pay drop to move in-house there is often no need to, as a move in-house typically comes with a 10-20% pay increase and a premium. As a general rule, you will always be better paid within industry up until a certain point, which is when it comes to Partner vs. Head of Tax. Working in practice as a Partner will always outstrip the earnings of a Head of Tax in a commercial business, although of course there are always exceptions to the rule. Therefore, when considering which path to take it is important to consider your long term career goals and whether your ambition is to end up as a Partner or Head of Tax. Working Hours Working hours tend to be better with in-house tax roles as opposed to in practice. There are usually smaller teams with a collaborative working pattern as opposed to the larger structured teams you often find in practice. Additionally, client responsibilities with a role in practice mean you need to be on call and meet clients, whereas in-house roles can offer better flexibility and opportunities to work from home, as well as regular working hours and less late nights, allowing for a better work-life balance. Although this is typically the case there are, of course, some exceptions and more large tax practices are now understanding the value a healthy work-life balance adds to employee effectiveness and happiness, and are making inroads to improve this. Progression Prospects Working in-house gives you the opportunity to move around the business, both across and upwards. You will work in a smaller team which gives you more responsibility in your role which will only broaden your prospects in the future, and there can be good opportunities for progression as in-house teams tend to have less of a rigid structure than tax teams in a large practice. However, in some circumstances it can be difficult to move upwards - ultimately, it depends on the company. While some large commercial companies, like those in the oil or automotive industry, have huge tax teams with structure and great progression opportunities, other companies have very small or even one-person tax teams. While this gives you more autonomy in your role, the opportunity to work closely with the Head of Tax or Director and exposure to different services lines within the company, this can also limit your opportunity to progress within the company itself. On the flip side, working in tax practice typically offers a clear and structured progression route. You will be in a position where if you hit business development and financial targets and pass your qualifications, you will move up the chain. Whilst an in-house role could potentially be a stand-alone position with limited resources to call upon, in practice, you are surrounded by technical expertise and talent. You will be working at the forefront of changes in legislation and therefore a role in practice provides you with excellent learning opportunities, as well as good progression prospects. Ease of Finding a New Opportunity It is relatively easy to move from practice to an in-house role, particularly if you are newly qualified and coming from one of the Big 4 or Top 10 as you will be highly sought after. Once you have in-house experience, you will find other doors open for you to take a step-up role in another commercial business, as some positions will require relevant experience. One of the main benefits of working in-house is the opportunity to work for a household brand or in an industry you’re interested in, whether this is retail, media, construction, automotive or telecoms, to name a few. Once you have chosen to move into a commercial business, it can be difficult to move back into practice. The longer you spend away from practice the harder it becomes, as you may find you lose the client-handling skills essential for practice. Therefore, it is important to be sure where you want to end up before making the move in-house and consider the wide range of career opportunities available to you within practice. Ultimately, your decision will come down to what type of work suits you and what you want from your career as a tax professional. If you are looking for a role within a company whose brand and household name excites you, and where you will have a broad, autonomous role and opportunities for flexible working, then a role in industry may suit you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a client facing role that sees you working on business development and at the forefront of changes in legislation, with clearly defined learning and progression opportunities, you should pursue a tax role in practice. For more information on this article, or for advice on your next career move into either a tax practice role or a position in-house, contact Marianne on 020 7269 6319 or


June 2019: Tax Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the tax sector. Here are the key movements in June 2019: PRACTICE LONDON AND CITY Howard Jones joins PKF Littlejohn from Grant Thornton as their Insurance Tax Partner. Simmons Gainsford have announced Fiona Crossed as Tax Partner, effective from 3rd June 2019. One of the largest public accounting and advisory firms in the united states, Frazier & Deeter, has opened an office in London which is led by Malcom Joy. Steve Watts has been appointed as Partner at BDO in London. SOUTH EAST BDO announces promotion of Steve Hoon, effective from 6th July. SOUTH WEST Nigel Popplewell joins PKF Francis Clark from Burges Salmon to bolster their tad advisory team, specialising in stamp duty land tax. PKF Francis Clark have welcomed three new additions to their tax team in Plymouth, Emily White, Mark Trevethan and Kate Cully. MIDLANDS AND THE EAST BDO Birmingham have announced Paul Townson as newly promoted partner with effect from July. Phil Melia has been appointed by RSM as Corporate Tax Director for the new Cambridge office. NORTH WEST Deloitte have appointed Helen Chadwick as Corporate Tax Partner. In addition to this, they have made further senior appointments within tax in the Manchester office with Charlotte Mannia and Gemma Marshal making Director. YORKSHIRE AND HUMBER Among several promotions for BDO, Lyndon Firth has been appointed Partner in Leeds. OVERSEAS Eddie Reijners joins Innovate Tax in the Netherlands, bringing over 25 years of experience mainly within tax technology. COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY Susan Edwards has been appointed the Head of Indirect Tax at Britvic. She has spent 15 years in the team at Mercedes-Benz and was the Indirect Tax Manager at Thomas Cook before making her move. Vectura Group have brought in Mark Harris to lead the team as Head of Tax. Having trained at PwC, Mark has enjoyed in-house roles with Arm, Spectris and URENCO Group respectively. Peter May is the new Group Head of Tax at Aspen Insurance Group, having started there on an interim basis before making a permanent move. Peter is vastly experienced in the insurance sector having spent time with Chubb and The Ardonagh Group. For more information about this article, or to speak to Dominic about your recruiting needs or Tax jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696310 or Back to Tax Movers & Shakers Archive >>


5 Key Points: Pushing for Partner

By now, you’re probably at Director-grade, and have been for some time. You’ve been focused on your business and personal case and working towards the targets therein for a while. It’s been a career ambition to make Partner in your area of expertise; this could be the first time you’re going for it, or you may have been through the process before. Either way, there are five areas of your business which you need to focus on to make that all important step up. 1) Plan. It goes without saying, but it’s so often seen. One of the most important factors to becoming a Partner is knowing when you want to make it and how you’re going to get there. Be realistic; Partner is a prestigious title – one that most professionals take years to achieve. It is among the highest recognition of performance. Set yourself an achievable route. 2) Don't only play to your strengths. Part of planning is knowing your skill set; the areas which you’re good at and those which need work. Weaknesses are opportunities. Most people shy away from weaknesses; it’s less scary to remain in your comfort zone. But growth takes place when you’re uncomfortable – don’t be afraid of discomfort. Paying attention to the unfamiliar areas of your overall business case are the ones which will strengthen your Partner-case and increase the likelihood of success. Of course, continue to work on the areas you’re good at. “There’s always room for improvement”. 3) Network. But don’t only network. You should know that a large part of becoming a Partner is your “business case” - basically, your profitability. In order to build revenues, it’s a good idea to have a good pool of clients to promote your expertise to. A network which is willing to interact with you. However, while a broad network is important, it’s not the only area you should focus on. Far too many aspiring Partners place too much emphasis on networking rather than building long-standing, weather-bearing relationships. Genuine relationships allow the practice to cross-sell, which in turn promotes alternate services of the practice and improves your overall business case. 4) Specialise. It is essential that you’re able to identify market trends and be forward thinking about economic and technological cycles. Sectors with heavy or changing regulation require professionals with an up-to-date knowledge of those changes and how best to extract value for the practice. For example, the recent changes in VAT legislation surrounding MTD has seen some firms leapfrog others, just by being prepared and having innovative Partners. 5) Know what is out there. Being a Partner shouldn’t be a short-term commitment. The effort you’ll go through, the late nights and the potential disappointment all needs to be worth it. It is always advisable to explore Partner opportunities within other practices, for two reasons: a) It gives you something to compare to. You’ll get a taste for the Partnership structure and vision of your competition, which may be different to what you’d imagine b) It provides a back-up plan. Partner-track is a “slippery slope”. Running a Partner process side-by-side saves time but also provides an alternative if you’re let down by your preferred choice. Becoming a Partner is a long, testing and multi-faceted process, which is ultimately offered to those individuals who can demonstrate technical skills to win and advise on new deals and truly represent the values of the firm. If you are a Director, Executive Director or Associate Partner committed to becoming a Partner, contact Chris on 020 7269 6313 or for a discreet discussion on the market and opportunities available.


60 Seconds With: Matthew Rees, Group Head of Indirect Taxes at Schroders

Matthew Rees is the Group Head of Indirect Taxes with the FTSE100 asset manager, Schroders. A bright Oxford graduate, Matthew started his impressive career to date with PwC, where he trained for his CTA and progressed through the ranks in VAT for financial services businesses, all the way up to Head of Investment Management VAT prior to his current role. We sat with Matt to ask on key areas where someone of his standing may be able to offer career-insight, between experiences in practice and in-house, and what advice he might be able to provide – to himself and the next generation of tax professionals. How are things at Schroders? Schroders is a really pleasant place to work, and I don’t use the term ‘pleasant’ lightly. As you know, a significant portion of the shares remain owned by the Schroder family, which I think keeps a family-feel to the office – it’s a very collegiate environment. The culture totally revolves around treating staff well, and this is reflected in the tenures of those employed. Some of my colleagues have been at Schroders for 12, 15 and even 18 years, which speaks volumes. You made the transition in-house at a fairly senior level. How was the adjustment and what challenges did you face? I think the transition was both insightful and challenging. The good news is that I had progressed to a fairly senior level within PwC and had worked in a number of different teams. Through these various roles and rotations, I had developed decent soft skills, such as team management, which were largely transferrable to the in-house context. But the key transition is getting your head fully around the responsibility involved in-house, in terms of end-to-end process ownership and stakeholder management. It isn’t the easiest process but if you keep at it, the effort and hard work will definitely pay off. With these challenges in mind, what practical advice would you give to yourself if you could, when tackling these transition challenges previously? Great question. Practically, when making the first step from practice to in-house you simply must remain open-minded. You really don’t know what it will be like – closer to the lines of business and responsible for full delivery of projects – until you’re there. At the same time, it’s fundamentally important to keep hold of what you’ve learned in practice. Keeping fresh with the technical matters you’ve faced previously puts you in a good position to have ‘quick wins’ when in-house and this is where you have the opportunity to add value and build a profile. On a wider note, as I’ve developed in my role at Schroders, I’ve found it very helpful being a member of sector bodies: e.g. the EFAMA and IA VAT committees. I say this on three accounts; firstly, it’s good to give something back; secondly, it’s important to retain a network of peers with which you can share experiences, challenges and opportunities; and finally it requires you to keep your technical skill levels up – I enjoy the learning that comes, for instance, from delivering presentations on key topics to these groups. You have an impressive career to date and have progressed quickly amid this hyper-competitive climate. What do you do for downtime? I’d say the first thing that comes to mind is that the work-life balance in-house is significantly better than that you’ll find in the Big 4. And so this transition in itself allowed me to refocus my energy where it was most effective, once I’d got my head around the remit of responsibilities. I’ll never forget a mantra made by an ex-colleague at PwC – “nobody ever died from a lack of tax advice”. Your work needs to be engaging, but not all-consuming. Beyond this, sports have always been a huge passion and big outlet of mine – cricket, rugby or anything you can watch or play really. Also, my wife and I are big on travelling. I’m not a ‘by the beach’, relaxation type of character – being quite high energy means that even on holiday I’m out exploring and learning or trying to sneak out to watch a local match! What are your guilty pleasures? Love Island. Strictly Come Dancing. Made in Chelsea. A few members of the team are always first in the door, and I’ll admit during the peak TV season our early morning conversations could be a little more VAT focused. How would your team describe you? I’d like to think they’d describe me as a smart guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously but treats everyone honestly and fairly. What challenges, personally or professionally, do you think the next generation of VAT professionals face and what advice might you give? I remain amazed at the hyper-competitive nature of the world right now. I look back at the graduate interviews I used to host at PwC, and I was consistently astounded at the quality of candidates who walked through the door. The range of qualifications, grades, knowledge and abilities acquired at a very junior stage in their career was as humbling as it was impressive. It’s a bit of an arms race today in career advancement; you just need to keep at it and stay true to what you want to do. On this note, I’d equally suggest not being too narrow with aspirations – I look back to how focused I was at university on getting top grades and playing rugby and there were perhaps a lot more experiences I could have gained if I’d been a little more relaxed. We’re doing a blog series currently on interview preparation, drawing on the common shortfalls and practical advice. Where do you see candidates falling short in interviews, and what advice would you give here? As you know, we are lucky enough to have very good applicants at Schroders, which makes the interview process much easier. Beyond this, I note that 75%+ of the candidates I have seen have the skills to do the job, so when it gets to the interview stage, it really comes down to displaying a personality and seeing where you best fit in. There is obviously some basic homework that everyone should undertake in preparation for interview – Google is your friend – but the key message I would have it to be yourself and try to make a personal connection with the interviewer. After all, you are going to be spending a lot of your life with your colleagues! For more information about this article, or to speak to Jay about your recruiting needs or In-House Tax opportunities in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696343 or Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


May 2019: Tax Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the tax sector. Here are the key movements in May 2019: PRACTICE LONDON AND CITY Kingston Smith has announced a number of Partner promotions including those in tax; Ruth Brennan and Ryan Day. Brennan delivers corporate tax services to a broad range of clients including owner-managed, listed and private equity-backed businesses in the UK and internationally. Day is a member of the general practice team, where he provides the full range of audit, accounting, tax and advisory services. Kingston Smith has joined Moore Stephens International, a global accounting and advisory network, effective from 1st May 2019. Smith & Williamson has announced that it is set to move to its London office from its current base at 25 Moorgate to 40 Gresham Street during the course of the summer of 2022. Saffery Champness has appointed Pete Hackleton as Head of the Sports & Entertainment Practice group. Hackleton, a chartered tax adviser, has been a partner at Saffery Champness since 2012 and his clients include international and national sport governing bodies, clubs, major venues, rights holders, other sports businesses and individuals. Ernst & Young (EY) has appointed Julie Teigland as the area managing partner for Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) with effect from 1st July 2019. She is currently the regional managing partner for Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Cameron Baum has announced that with effect from 1st May 2019 it is now Cameron Baum Hollander. Blick Rothenberg has announced that Sean Randall, a highly regarded stamp duty specialist, has joined the firm. Randall comes with near 20 years experience, the last 5 within a Big 4. NORTH WEST Baldwins has acquired Montpelier Chartered Accountants, a firm based in Preston. With effect from 1st April 2019, Hall Livesey Brown’s Chester office, which has been led by partner Charles Parsons since 1986, merged with MD Coxey & Co and now trades under the new name of Coxeys. BDO Manchester has appointed Liam O’Doherty as Tax Partner. O’Doherty joins from PwC where he was a Director and specialises largely within the real estate sector. SOUTH WEST BDO Bristol welcomes Matthew Sewell as a Tax Partner to provide tax services to fast-growing and multinational businesses in the South West, focusing on international tax services and supporting in-house finance and tax functions. He was formerly a tax partner at RSM. OVERSEAS BDO Ireland has appointed Warren Novis to lead the firm’s growing transfer pricing practice. He joined in April 2019 bringing 15 years’ experience as an in-house expert and as an advisor. He joins from Aptiv PLC (formerly Delphi Automotive). COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY Apex Group welcomes Peter Bellini as Senior Vice President. He joins from Eurostar. Lebara has appointed Jane Jia as their Head of Tax, having previously been Senior Tax Manager at Ernest & Young (EY). Cognizant has announced that they have promoted James Yu. Formerly Vice President of Tax, he is now SVP Tax & Treasurer. 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 02072696321 or Back to Tax Movers & Shakers Archive >>


12 Tips to Become a Successful Recruiter

As a recruiter, it's your job to get the best talent through the door and provide your company or client with the right candidates who will make an impact. While each recruiter has different specific strengths, there are numerous commonalities among effective recruiters. Becoming a great recruiter takes skill, intuition and lots of practice, and our recruitment experts here at Pro have put together 12 Top Tips on becoming and remaining a successful recruiter. So, what makes a good recruiter? 1. Answer/return the call The most successful recruiters will always get back to people whether it is good or bad news and offer full feedback, or even just a quick update call. Don’t be that ever-elusive recruiter who doesn’t get back to their candidates or clients! If you went for a job and no one got back to you, even if you were not successful, would you be happy with this? 2. Make the most of your day Recruiting is like juggling plates. You will have business development calls, candidate calls, interviews, meetings, adverts, applications and emails amongst a barrage of incoming calls. Plan your day to make sure you hit your targets and deadlines, even when you find one situation takes up most of your afternoon unexpectedly! 3. Network Building your network of both existing and potential clients and candidates is key. Keeping in regular contact with active job seekers and clients you have placed with will keep you fresh in their minds to come back to. Attending industry events and lunches, alongside social networking are all effective ways to increase your means of generating the best candidates. 4. Build your personal brand Make sure you are delivering the best service to both clients and candidates alike! When you are generating business from a referral or placing candidates because you have been recommended, you know what you are doing is working! If you do a fantastic job, that candidate you placed last year will remember your excellent service and when they are recruiting for their own team, you will be the person they think of to contact. 5. Listen As a recruiter, you need to listen to both your clients and candidates alike to ensure that you fully understand every detail of what that individual wants. Just because you have recruited for a similar role for a competitor, both the role and what another client wants from a candidate will not necessarily be the same. The same goes for your candidates - understanding their wants, needs and goals will help you to match them to their perfect opportunity. 6. Drive and Determination To be a successful recruiter you need the drive and determination to succeed. You will need to pick up the phone to make cold calls, call candidates, headhunt the passive market and be proactive in your approach. 7. Never stop learning Making sure you are up to date with your knowledge and methods of working will help you stay ahead of your game. As an industry, recruitment is always changing and developing. Trends in the markets change, and tools and techniques are ever evolving. It’s hard to imagine a time without LinkedIn and social media as a recruitment tool; yet not that long ago it was unknown. The way clients are now recruiting is also changing to suit their needs, especially as we are now in such a buoyant market. 8. Ask questions Every successful recruiter has managed to hone their questioning skills to ensure they are finding out more than their competitors and able to make the best matches. Ask the right questions and don’t be afraid to dig deeper to clarify the answers. Knowledge is power in recruitment. 9. Have a thick skin There is a lot of rejection, and some days you may not get the results you want. The important thing is to be able to bounce back, keep positive and stay persistent. If you continue to be proactive you will be a huge success! 10. Think outside the box The most successful recruiters show entrepreneurialism and innovation in the ways they can source and fill vacancies. There is a lot of competition out there from thousands of other agencies. Make sure you are finding new and clever ways to work with clients and candidates alike and show you are different and why. Don’t be afraid to change the way you work because you are comfortable with your processes. 11. Work as a team There is a wealth of knowledge and skills across your business. Work alongside successful recruiters and you will pick up tips and styles to help you improve. Even the most seasoned recruiter can learn from a junior member of the team, and sharing knowledge and best practices will widen your skill set to ensure you are a top performer. 12. Know your market If you work in a specialised vertical sector then make sure you are up to date with industry news and market knowledge - to be the best recruiter you need to know your market inside-out! Here at Pro-Recruitment Group, our teams specialise in Tax, Legal, Finance, HR and Marketing recruitment. Each team prides themselves in being market specialists, who research and learn every day from a wide range of resources available to them. We hold events within these specialised areas to network with professionals and ensure our teams are up to date with their knowledge. We also source Consultants who have worked in these industries previously and so have hands-on experience within their sector, including Solicitors, Partners of Law Firms, Tax Seniors and Accountants. As a company, we are in a period of growth. If you are interested in becoming a market specialist and developing your career with Pro-Recruitment Group, contact our Head of Talent Loren on 020 7269 6358 or


April 2019: Tax Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the tax sector. Here are the key movements in April 2019: PRACTICE LONDON AND CITY Partners Grant Thornton has appointed two new Tax Partners in its real estate practice: Matt Maltz, who comes across from EY with 26 years’ experience and Jessica Patel who has been promoted up through the ranks since joining the firm as a trainee in 2003. MHA MacIntyre Hudson has adopted the Baker Tilly International brand identity. It has been a member of the network since 2014. Armstrong Watson has appointed Becky Bowness as a Corporate Tax Partner who joins from PwC where she spent the last six years in the London international and M&A tax teams. Saffery Champness has made a number of Tax Partner promotions with effect from 1st April 2019, including Robert Mace, Barbara Marchant and Lucy Woodward in London. Mace joined Safferys in 2004 as a trainee in the London office. He is a chartered Tax Adviser with a client base that includes high net worth individuals, their families and their businesses and has a specialism in the taxation of cryptoassets. Marchant is a chartered Tax Adviser and STEP member who is experienced in advising individuals, trustees and beneficiaries, based both in the UK and abroad, in relation to UK tax, succession and estate planning. Woodward who is a chartered Tax Advisor began her career at Critchleys before joining Safferys in 2009. Wilson Wright has announced the appointment of two new Partners, Emma Brown and Tom Tesfay with effect from 1st April 2019. Brown who joined the firm in 2014 is a chartered Tax Advisor and has been promoted from her role as Tax Director at the firm, where she assisted clients with a range of tax planning and advisory matters. Tesfay is a chartered accountant who works with a wide variety of clients assisting them with their audit, accountancy and corporate tax requirements. SOUTH EAST Partners Saffery Champness has promoted Andrew Watkinson in High Wycombe. Watkinson trained and qualified at Saffery Champness in High Wycombe. He supports a wide range of commercial clients, individuals and not for- profits providing advice on audit, accounting and tax matters, as well as business and financial planning. RSM has appointed Paul Dearsley as Chelmsford office Managing Partner. Dearsley joined RSM as a Partner in 2018 and has previously worked at Grant Thornton and Price Bailey. The Kent offices of MHA MacIntyre Hudson have completed a deal to merge with Percy Gore & Co based in Margate. Percy Gore & Co will relocate to the MHA MacIntyre Hudson offices in New Dover Road, Canterbury. SOUTH WEST Partners RSM Swindon has promoted to Partner Zoe Martin (private client/tax) in Swindon. Saffery Champness has promoted David Sedgwick in Bristol. Sedgwick who manages a diverse client base comprising landed estates & agribusinesses, owner managed businesses and high net worth individuals joined the Bristol office in 2008 and qualified as a chartered certified accountant and subsequently as a chartered Tax Adviser. PKF Francis Clark has promoted Sonia Fisher to Business Services Partner in the Exeter office. Fisher joined PKF Francis Clark in 2001 provides accountancy and taxation advice to owner managed businesses, specialising in the agriculture and food and drink sectors and also specialist advice to the legal sector. MIDLANDS AND THE EAST Partners Saffery Champness has promoted Simon Hall in Peterborough. Hall, chartered Tax Advisor, works with a variety of commercial clients, including privately owned businesses, international groups, professional partnerships and not-for-profit organisations, advising on audit, accounting and tax matters. Rawlinsons, based in Peterborough, has rebranded as Baldwins. Rawlinsons joined the group in 2018. PEM has promoted Mary Shoesmith to Partner in the private client team. Shoesmith, joined PEM in 2015 and provides compliance and tax advice to individuals and trustees specialising in inheritance tax planning, capital gains tax planning and residency issues. With effect from 9th April 2019, Larking Gowen has taken on the MHA branding to become MHA Larking Gowen. Senior Appointments EY has appointed Gurbinder Mattoo as a Director in the Private Client Services Team in the Midlands. Duncan & Toplis has elected a new member to its management board, Mark Taylor. Taylor also represents Duncan & Toplis on international tax matters as part of Kreston International. NORTH WEST Partners RSM has promoted to Partner Rowena Clifton (VAT) and Martin Cooper (reward and incentives/tax) in Manchester. Saffery Champness in Manchester has promoted with effect from 1st April 2019, Martyn Dobinson. Dobinson, a chartered accountant and chartered Tax Adviser, is a landed estates, farming and agribusiness specialist. Senior Appointments PKF Francis Clark has appointed three new Directors in the Exeter office. Rebecca Seeley Harris joins the firm as a Director in the Employer Solutions Team, Jane Logan becomes Landed Estates Director with over 20 years’ experience in tax. YORKSHIRE AND HUMBER Partners UHY Calvert Smith has formally merged with Hare & Co located in York. The merged practice is set to be relocated into one office and will comprise of 34 staff, including six Partners. Linda Hare, who founded Hare & Co in 2003 and has over 20 years’ experience, will become one of the six Partners along with Gareth Burrow who was promoted to Partner on 1 April 2019. SCOTLAND Partners EQ Accountants has promoted three Managers, who all undertook their training with the firm, to Principal Managers. Rachel Bell, who specialises in corporate and R&D taxation, now heads up the transaction tax group. Scott Greig, who qualified in 2012 joins the agriculture team; and Robert Young, who joined the Forfar in 2003, and leads the private client tax group. OFFSHORE Partners Saffery Champness has acquired Grant Thornton Ireland’s media & under the deal, the team of 11 people, headed up by John Gleeson, will join Saffery Champness with effect from 8th April 2019 operating from Saffery Champness’ new Irish office located at 99 St Stephen’s Green in central Dublin. Gleeson has over 20 years’ commercial experience in providing tax advice and advisory services, with a particular focus on the media and entertainment sector in Ireland and abroad. COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY Iftakhar Khan has joined DWF from Lucite International as Head of Tax. William Fox is now Director of Treasury, Tax and Insurance at Wincanton, having previously been Head of Financial Projects for the business Eddie Mesquitta is now Group Tax Director at Elekta. He was promoted from his position as Group Tax Manager. 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 02072696321 or Back to Tax Movers & Shakers Archive >>



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