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Need Support with your Tax Exams? 60 Seconds With: Nitin Rabheru, Tax Lecturer at BPP Professional Education

Nitin Rabheru is an experienced senior tutor and lecturer in Tax, Law and Financial Accounting at BPP Professional Education in London. A qualified solicitor and previously a Tax Consultant at one of the Big 4, Nitin has over 19 years of experience teaching tax and law, and at CTA level he teaches advanced corporation tax, individuals advisory and the owner managed business application and interaction papers. He is passionate about the papers he teaches and his key objective is to assist students in achieving their academic inspirations. You have an interesting career in that you were previously a Tax Consultant as well as a qualified solicitor. Why did you decide to move into teaching? I have a real passion for tax that I want to pass onto students. There’s no credit for those students who pass and also no blame for those who don’t pass the first time, but either way I like to be positive, smiling and here to help anyone who needs it. It’s a great feeling when students inform me of their exam passes and other successes, and I also get involved in ongoing improvements to student experiences which I feel is incredibly important. What are the benefits of BPP? As well as face to face classes I believe that online teaching can also be an effective way of delivering both taught and revision sessions, and the online courses offered by BPP allow flexibility for students. You have the ability to study from home, log in remotely and pause live - all the positives of virtual learning. Of course, online learning isn’t for everyone, but BPP gives you all the support you need for your studies with the ability to work at your own pace and in your own time. Why was the pass rate so low on OMB Advisory? From my experience, when the pass rate for a particular paper is low, there is a general perception that paper must have been too difficult. With the OMB exam this is definitely not the case. The OMB paper has always tested core areas of the syllabus, however, being an advisory paper, many students spend too much time using the study manuals without minimal question practice, whilst others tend not to cover all areas of the syllabus. It is very common for students to feel overwhelmed and or suffer from anxiety when it comes to exams. The way to overcome this is to take small steps early on in your studies to condition yourself to cope under exam conditions. The method that I recommend for CTA is a scenario based approach - dealing with the exam rather than just simply learning a set of tax rules from a manual. In my opinion, the key to success in any tax exam is being able to identify the key issues, scenarios and tax problems within a question. Not knowing where to begin or how to start a question is often a very common barrier to passing. What advice do you give to your students at the final stages in the weeks before their exams? Once you have reached the final stages, there should no more attempting of questions in the last few days before the real exam. Instead, you should review every single question you have reviewed or attempted in full to ensure you train the brain to spot key issues and scenarios in the exam. Review the list of watch-outs i.e. a note of all the errors you have made until now so you do not repeat them in the exam. For numerical questions revise your computational proformas (at this stage you should have a bank of proformas ready). Revise your model answer plans and 60 second checklists to ensure technical coverage. Review the areas of legislation you have highlighted. What tips or advice would you give to students during their exams? The most important piece of advice I can offer, it to remember that you only need 50% to pass! You have 3 ¼; hours to pass half of the exam so keep that in mind. My advice would be to work backwards and start with the written questions which are usually last as they carry the most marks. Lately we have seen a huge push on school leaver programmes vs. graduate schemes. What are your views on joining one of these programmes and working for a firm like one of the Big 4 or Top 10? I think that the joint pathway has been a superb idea. Getting the balance right between the volume of study time, workload and home life and health is so important, and this pathway for young professionals is allowing for a positive work-life balance. One piece of advice I would give is not to take too many exams during these programmes. Ideally stick to one exam per sitting, and remember to go at your own pace - it’s not a race! These programmes also give students so many options for once they qualify, helping to set up their futures. Finally, in your opinion, how has the tax world changed in the past 20 years, and why? Over the past 6 years we have seen a rise in anti-avoidance measures across the board, which in my opinion has been one of the most significant changes in the tax world. I would also say that there have been more changes in the last 3 years alone than the last 20, with the tax world rapidly changing with technological developments. For more information on this article, for further advice on your tax exams, or to speak to our specialist tax recruiters about the next step in your career, contact Kevin Racher on 020 7269 6321 or


Moving Tax In-House

More and more businesses are now bringing their tax functions in-house. With the need for more robust risk control frameworks around tax, it is important for tax to partner with the business, meaning that companies are increasingly looking for tax professionals with both technical expertise and strong commercial acumen and understanding. So, what are the benefits of moving your tax function in-house? ​ Economic factors In the current economic climate, the tax outsourcing model is expensive for many businesses. If you don’t have an in-house tax team you will be outsourcing work to a tax practice, most of which charge substantial outsourcing fees which has caused a marked trend across medium to large-sized companies towards bringing parts of their tax function in-house. Internal resources and compliance come at a fixed and predictable cost. It can be economically effective to bring your tax function in-house and pay someone a fixed salary as opposed to paying tax professionals outside your company on an ad-hoc basis, which can be unpredictable. Collaborative working environment Having that ‘go-to’ person or team within your business can really benefit your workplace. Other areas of the business will notice there is a tax function and use it for queries or issues that they may not have raised before, which could potentially save your business money on tax - both outsourcing fees and problems further down the line. Having dedicated tax professionals with real face-time with the business and working in the offices alongside other parts of the business can create a collaborative working environment. An in-house tax team will be solely focused on your company mission and goals which can be beneficial in comparison to someone from a tax practice whose focus is split across multiple clients. They would be fully immersed in your business and therefore able to react quickly to it’s changing needs, and will have a deeper knowledge and shared understanding of your businesses operational and end goals. Accountability One of the biggest benefits of moving your tax function in-house is that your business will have greater control of its tax affairs and tax risk. Under Senior Accounting Officer legislation, the individual responsible (usually the CFO) is required to personally certify that their company’s systems are fit for the purpose of reporting taxes. By moving your tax function in-house, as a business you will be able to oversee and have more control over the tax systems in place. An in-house tax professional would be able to establish strong relationships with HMRC and work towards improving existing systems and controls that generate efficiencies in internal processes. Investors Not only this, but companies with a lot of investors can benefit by bringing tax in-house. Doing this shows to investors - both current and potential - that you are dedicated to saving money while also running your business in an effective, accountable way and could in turn encourage them to invest more. Here at Pro-Tax within our Commerce & Industry team, we have seen a significant rise in the number of tax professionals wanting to move in-house and work within fast-growing, exciting and dynamic businesses. From a career point of view, moving in-house gives you the opportunity to broaden your experience and gain valuable commercial experience. For those organisations who believe that bringing their tax in-house would be beneficial, the talent pool available across industries has diversified and we often find that candidates are actively seeking an in-house opportunity to develop their career. For more information on this article or for help recruiting in-house tax professionals into your organisation, contact Marianne Wills on 020 7269 6319 or


60 Seconds With: Anshita Joshi, Head of Tax at The Investment Association

Anshita Joshi is Head of Tax at the Investment Association (the IA). A former Senior Manager at PWC in the Investment Management Tax team, Anshita has become centrally placed within the asset management tax network. Her remit is broad, strategically focused and involves routinely liaising with ‘Heads of’ and policymakers alike to advising on cutting-edge tax developments for an entire industry. See below Anshita’s recent ’60 seconds’ with Jay Sky, talking on the IA, the challenges of investment management tax, and career advice more generally. ​ For anyone who isn't aware, what is the purpose of the IA, and what's it like working there? The Investment Association is a trade body and an industry voice for the UK's investment management sector. Our members range from large international investment managers to small independent UK investment firms and together manage £7.7 trillion assets under management. We act as their voice to policymakers and regulators and also support members through training and development initiatives. The IA is a relatively small organisation in size, yet sitting at the heart of the industry we have the benefit of working with a large number of member firms, so effectively it's the best of both worlds. Unlike other trade bodies, the IA also runs its own Fintech accelerator, as well as a grassroots careers service, Investment20/20, which aims to increase diversity within the industry. Given everything we do, the atmosphere is constantly abuzz with thoughts and ideas (and lots of cakes!). What does your role actually involve, and what keeps it interesting? Anything and everything to do with tax really. It could be a domestic tax issue or an international initiative, affecting funds, investors or the asset management firms themselves and everything in between. It is this broad range of tax issues that forever keeps me on my toes and makes the role so much more interesting. What's the culture like at the IA, and how might it differ from working in practice or an asset manager? The IA is a very collaborative organisation and we work closely with colleagues making us a very close-knit group of people. The diversity of people working at the IA in all aspects including expertise, background and education makes it a fantastic place to be. The access to and interaction with senior policymakers both domestically and internationally, with support from the incredible expertise of our member firms is something that is unique to the IA. The fact that you can influence policy and work with so many others in the industry to deliver a common purpose is extremely fulfilling and rewarding. The nature of your role means you need to go beyond just 'up to date' - you need to be strategic to champion industry interests and influence policy. So you are in the prime position to tell our readers - what are the cutting-edge issues in investment management tax? I think that most important, above all else, is the need to have a tax regime that is competitive, stable and predictable, particularly in this current period of uncertainty. Any tax initiatives have to be tested against this measure. Looking beyond Brexit, which may seem difficult to do at the moment, focus has to be on the horizon to prepare for the raft of regulatory and tax changes that the industry is facing. What challenges do you think the next generation of in-house tax professionals face in this industry? One of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the constant changes resulting from an increased focus on transparency by the government, regulatory and investors making tax a reputational issue. What events are upcoming with the IA which offer tax professionals the chance to learn more about the industry and develop their commercial knowledge? The Annual Investment Association Tax Conference on 25 November is our flagship event that brings together an influential speaker line up and audience of senior figures from investment management firms, business leaders and tax practitioners. The conference will reflect on the challenges and opportunities for investment management businesses across a number of areas from tax risk governance, tax transparency, VAT and operational taxes to international initiatives such as the OECD's work on digitalisation of the economy. What defining career moments have there been for you so far, and what career advice would you give yourself when you were younger, if you could? There have been a few, with the most recent one being the move to the Investment Association. As for advice for myself or indeed others at an early stage of their career, it'd have to be to embrace new challenges and take a leap of faith to do something outside one’s comfort zone. Your career is very interesting in that you've left the Big 4 at a fairly senior level and gone a step further than just going in-house - you've actually moved right into the very heart of in-house asset management tax with the IA. Where do you see your own development heading from here? At the moment, I am thriving on the challenges of this amazing role that has given me incredible opportunities and exposure to policymakers and members. There couldn't be a better time to be here at the IA at the heart of the industry as you say. With the variety of different issues that the industry faces, I believe that there is so much more to achieve here. What kind of person would you keep an eye out for at the IA, and what advice would you give to someone who wants to be part of your team? Being a diverse and inclusive place to work means that we access a broad talent pool. In addition to recruiting more experienced hires, we also offer unique opportunities to school leavers and graduates looking for traineeship roles at the IA through Investment 20/20. In fact, we have recently hired two extremely bright and talented trainees in our team. As for what we look for, two main attributes are key: strong communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively. Everything else can be learnt on the job. For more information on this article or for assistance on any search needs, please contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


September 2019: Tax Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the tax sector. Here are the key movements in September 2019: PRACTICE LONDON Richard Maitland joins MHA Macintyre Hudson as Partner in its Human Capital Advisory team, bringing 18 years of experience in the human capital field. He will lead all work related to employment tax. Anderson Global have continued their expansion by hiring Miles Dean and Zoe Wyatt in the UK. Miles and Zoe previously worked at Milestone and as part of Andersen Tax, they will provide a broad range of international tax services to corporations and private clients, investment funds and real estate investors and developers. Martina Fitzgerald joins Carter Backer Winter (CBW) from Menzies as Private Client Tax Partner, bringing a wealth of experience across a range of private client matters. Blick Rothenberg have appointed Neil Insull as Corporate Tax Partner. Neil joins from Haines Watts and has been advising on business tax for 30 years, across practice and industry. Irfan Butt joins RSM as Partner within the Real Estate tax team. Prior to this, Irfan worked for PwC as a Director in Real Estate Funds. Christopher Williamson, Private Client Tax Lawyer from TLT has joined Price Bailey as Private Client Partner. ESSEX Adela Cebotari has been appointed by RSM as Private Client Associate Tax Director in their Chelmsford office. Adela joins from Price Bailey and brings over 10 years of private client experience.​ MIDLANDS AND THE EAST: Phil Stevens joins Foxley Kingham as Tax Director. Phil has nearly 20 years of experience gained from mid-tier and boutique accounting firms. RSM in Birmingham has hired a new Corporate Tax Director. Rajh Chana joins from PwC where he spent over 13 years specialising in their Private Business team. NORTH EAST: Liz Rothery has been appointed by Baldwins as Associate Tax Director. Liz is a specialist in IHT and Trust planning. With 14 years’ experience in private client tax planning, Liz previously worked for PwC. OTHER: Top 15 firm, MHA Macintyre Hudson has strengthened its VAT offering through the acquisition of Martin Pooley’s accountancy practice in Norwich. COMMERCE & INDUSTRY Michael McCotter has been appointed the Head of Tax at Charterhouse Capital Partners. His practice experience includes stints with Deloitte and Dixon Wilson and Michael spent a little over 18 years in the team at DH Private Equity Partners where he was most recently Head of Tax before making the move. Cognizant have brought in Lawson Rose at a senior level as Transfer Pricing Director. PwC trained, Lawson’s in-house experience has most recently been within the pharmaceutical sector with Shire and Takeda, respectively. Trent Emtage is the new SVP Global Tax at ContourGlobal. Trent’s background is from the Big 4 with PwC and EY and he is vastly experienced within the Oil & Energy sector having held high-level positions with Noble Group and Mercuria Energy Trading previously. 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 >>


60 Seconds With: Mervyn Skeet, Head of Tax at the Association of British Insurers

Mervyn Skeet is Head of Tax at the Association of British Insurers, Chair of the Global Federation of Insurance Associations and former Global Head of Tax at XL Group. An esteemed senior expert in international tax policy, Mervyn has over 25 years of experience working in tax within the insurance industry. See below Mervyn’s recent interview with Jay Sky, talking on the ABI, the challenges of tax in insurance and career advice for the aspiring Heads of Tax of tomorrow. For anyone who isn’t aware, what is the purpose of the ABI? The ABI is the voice of the UK's world-leading insurance and long-term savings industry. Formed in 1985, the ABI represents members in industry and strives to bring the right people together to inform public debate and policy. We cover a large percentage of the insurance market with around 250 corporate members. One of the key roles and biggest challenges faced by the ABI is engaging with both members and the policymakers who drive how insurance is going to move forward. What’s it like working at the ABI? I like that the ABI is a dynamic place to work, which is not what you might see from the outside looking into what might appear a traditional trade association. It feels to me like a young, vibrant workplace looking to make a real difference to this industry. Not only this, but the people are very committed, work incredibly hard, and understand the way the insurance industry operates which is absolutely key to our members. There are three of us in the tax function at ABI, and we have over 75 years of combined experience which is something you don’t see replicated in other trade associations, inside or outside of insurance. We have a role to play in the wider insurance industry and very few associations have that level of experience in tax to help members. What does your role involve and what makes it interesting? As Head of Tax at the ABI, my job is to make sure we are focused on tax policy - both domestic and international - and at the moment, the international piece is becoming most interesting. In most jurisdictions, tax is a sovereign decision typically made by local government, but bodies such as the OECD and EU play a huge role in tax policy on an international scale. These bodies will make recommendations and influence government - for example, the UK government has been on record recently voicing the need to find international tax solutions as well as domestic solutions - and that’s what makes it interesting. Looking at things that not only impact the UK, but also affect the EU and the rest of the world. How does it compare being at the ABI, as opposed to sitting at the top of the tax team for an insurance conglomerate? As people would expect, very different! Working in a trade association does not come with the same daily pressures as working in industry. In a global organisation you are constantly on the move, constantly challenged and constantly under pressure, whereas here, you have more opportunity to think about policy and ways for the industry to move forward. We support the industry and use our knowledge and experience to make sure the tax directors and finance functions are aware of some of the policy issues they may not have time to think of themselves. So to sum up, the biggest difference really is time. In my last role, I was heavily involved in policy with the OECD, but I still had to do my day job. Now, policy is my day job - that’s the difference. From a corporate perspective, what is the value-add to be involved with the ABI, for insurance organisations and tax professionals alike? Mainly, access to policymakers. Involvement with the ABI means both insurance organisations and tax professionals have the ability to influence as part of an association, as opposed to acting as one individual entity. It is much more powerful going to speak to a Minister, or the Treasury, or HMRC about an industry issue with the backing and support of an association like the ABI. As an organisation, we pride ourselves on being proactive for our members, not just reactive. We have the ability to influence policy before it actually happens, and use our years of expertise to demonstrate why certain things will and won’t work for the insurance industry or for our members. As an organisation, we need to be ahead of policies and constantly look ahead to what might happen going forward. This is a bit of a sifting process - taking everything happening in the tax world, highlighting areas that need to be focused on and articulating to members what is crucial to deal with. This means that insurance organisations and tax professionals involved with the ABI can benefit from our expertise and stay informed of any market or policy changes essential for them to focus on. The nature of your role means you need to be beyond just ‘up to date’ - you need to be strategic to champion industry interests and influence policy. So you are in a prime position to tell our readers - what are the cutting-edge issues for tax in insurance? There are three main domestic issues facing tax in insurance currently, the first being Making Tax Digital which is already in place for VAT, at least for large businesses. The plan for this to be extended to other tax areas and smaller business is certainly a prominent issue, as it is not yet clear when that will be. Secondly, IFRS 17 has brought about huge changes to the way insurances will be accounted for, and therefore has massive tax implications - particularly in the long term savings and life industry. Thirdly, there is the high rate of insurance premium tax that impacts upon the cost of insurance. The next generation will undoubtedly be affected by these issues, but perhaps most significantly, the whole way the international tax framework will operate going forward. This is being driven by the growing focus on digital economies. The OECD released a programme of work in May detailing how the international tax framework ought to be amended for digital companies and as it stands, insurance is in the scope of that programme. Explaining how the insurance industry fits within the digital project whilst looking at changes in the international tax framework and how people will be taxed going forward shows the makings of a challenging project. This programme is expected to be finished by the end of 2020 and is a good example of a problem that’s both short term and will affect the future of the industry going forward. What events are upcoming with the ABI which offer the chance for junior and senior tax professionals to learn and develop? The timing of this is interesting, as we just had our big ABI annual tax convention in Brighton in early September. This is the sixth time we have hosted this convention, and from a tax perspective is always an incredibly successful event. This year, we had a lot more junior members attend, which means they are learning about things now to take forward into their careers. These are the people who will be progressing through the industry ranks in five or ten years time, and continuity is very important - it’s already in the diary for next year for the 7th and 8th September! In between conventions, the senior tax strategy committee meets on a quarterly basis to discuss the issues of the day, as well as other working groups that members can get involved in. The ABI also runs events throughout the year which aren’t necessarily tax-related, and we are holding our wider annual conference in February of next year. When trying to arrange events for junior members of the ABI, the issues I see facing tax departments now is that people are specialising very early in their careers. Whereas in the past you were typically given a wide portfolio and you specialised further down the line, junior tax professionals are now immediately specialising, whether this be in transfer pricing, capital allowances or the likes. The question is - how do you tailor these events for the right group of people while also including as many professionals as possible? This is something I think will prove to be a challenge going forward, both for the ABI and for junior tax professionals looking to round their skillset. What are your thoughts on the challenges facing the next generation of Tax Heads, and how to get there? One of the biggest challenges is knowing how to staff your teams. When I was starting out, you qualified and then decided whether to stay with your firm or to move into industry. You would gain a good overall grounding in the way companies operate before moving into a commercial environment, but I’m not sure that is the case now in quite the same way. People tend to specialise early so often don’t have the same grounding, it seems to me, in general taxation or accounting matters. In my opinion, to be the best tax person you need a solid understanding of how financials work and this is a big challenge facing Heads of Tax now, as you are recruiting people who are specialists in their field already. Another challenge faced by the future Heads of Tax is managing expectations. If you bring someone in as a tax assistant in Transfer Pricing for example, if they are looking to move to a managerial position within a short space of time it’s not very straight-forward. Expectations of moving quickly within an organisation are far greater than they used to be but when you don’t have a large tax function within your business that’s very hard to manage. So how do those experts of today become the Heads of Tax of tomorrow? My number one piece of advice would be to think strategically and look at the big picture. It’s about not just focusing on the area that you’re an expert in, but trying to understand the organisation you’re working for as a whole. Look forward and think about how tax will evolve. If you think about the last ten years, the way the general public sees the payment of taxes has evolved massively, and there is a big focus on the ‘fair’ amount of tax paid. As a general, there is a much larger focus on tax than there has been in the past, which is a challenge in itself, and so looking at the larger picture is essential. Compliance is now key within tax functions. Moving away from tax planning, risk management is now key for most CFOs and Heads of Tax, and so you absolutely need to be strategic and think about how tax fits into the business as a whole. Be technical, be tactical, but also be focused on the strategic goals of your organisation. What career advice would you give yourself when you were younger, and how might this differ to the advice you’d offer a newly qualified tax professional today in this field? Try not to expect things too quickly. Naturally, you will want your career progression to happen immediately but sometimes it’s important to remember to manage expectations. When I came out of university and into the world of work, I thought I knew a lot but it became clear I had a lot to learn about tax still, and this was a realisation that needed to happen! The best advice I can offer is to learn. I still learn something new every day - try to progress your own learning whenever you have the opportunity and don’t think you have all the answers. Of course, be confident and focused, but be open to learning from people around you who have been in the industry for a long time. You have 30 years experience in tax and you’ve progressed to a very senior level within insurance before moving into a representative and policy-level role. What defining moments have there been for you throughout? The best part of my career was spent in two multinational insurance companies, and one defining moment for me was being made Head of Global Tax at XL Group back in 2007. I had been the European Head of Tax for over four years in which I learned a lot about the organisation to take with me into the global role, which really felt like the start of my being able to influence at a higher level. To me, the turning point was the first 100 days. Having to get your team in place, decide who is a good fit and is supporting you in your role, and having to make tough decisions makes you think very carefully about what you need and who you want on your team. Another career-defining moment for me was my appointment as Chair of the Global Federation of Insurance Associations (GFIA), which has allowed me to play a pivotal role beyond just the UK. The GFIA is seen as an association of associations, and my role as Chair means I can interact with people from other associations around their world and get their views on issues and policies. This allows us to play a role on the global stage and influence governments at a national level, which really demonstrates the capabilities we have at the ABI. Being at the centre of the insurance tax industry means you would routinely be approached by those looking to hire and move in this market. What advice would you offer hiring managers and candidates alike today? Well, it’s certainly a challenge, but it’s all about finding the right options. Of course, you want to try and attract the most talented people in the industry, but most importantly you need to think carefully about what you’re looking for. Don’t hire somebody without defining the role properly first. I have always found that you can get a sense quickly if someone is right for the role as long as you know what you are looking for - if you go into an interview blind, it’s much harder that way. Tie your interview strategy into the strategies of both your tax function and the wider organisation. Essentially, it’s about knowing what it is that your tax function is trying to achieve for the organisation as a whole. If you know this, you know what you need in the ideal candidate. For more information on this article or to speak to Jay Sky about your recruiting needs, contact him on 020 7269 6343 or Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


August 2019: Tax Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the tax sector. Here are the key movements in August 2019: PRACTICE London and City: BDO Appoints two new Tax Partners, Ian Bowden (Tax Technology) and Jon Claypole (Tax Disputes Resolution). After 18 years at Grant Thornton we have seen one of the tax industries most influential Partners take a move to Mazars. Fathers has a particular specialism within Employee Issues and Share Schemes and the wider tax piece. He joins Mazars and this will also help fill both the gap that Vaneeta Khurana leaves behind as she moves to EY in Reading in Employee Issues and Jon Claypole’s recent move to BDO. John Rossiter joins MHA Macintyre Hudson as Indirect Tax Director from Grant Thornton and brings a wealth of Big 4 experience. Midlands and the East: EY makes two senior promotions to Associate Partner in the Birmingham office, one of which includes James Hemphill (employment tax and people advisory specialist). Michelle Cox is promoted to Senior Tax Manager in the Nottingham office of UHY Hacker Young. Offshore: Grant Thornton in Singapore has appointed David Sandison as Tax Partner. David brings over 30 years of international tax experience. COMMERCE & INDUSTRY Laurence Peck has been appointed the Head of Tax at Catalina Re. He trained at Arthur Andersen and has experienced the insurance industry with industry giants such as Aon, Legal & General and Lloyd’s before making the move. Johnson Matthey has brought in Katherine Beard at a senior level as Head of Direct Tax. After training at Grant Thornton, Katherine has enjoyed in-house roles with The Body Shop, Lucozade Ribena Suntory and Indivior respectively. Gary Woodfield is the new Head of Partnership Tax at Addleshaw Goddard. Gary is a vastly experienced partnership taxes specialist demonstrable during the 12 years he spent with Taylor Wessing before heading up the team at Addleshaw Goddard. For more information about this article, or to speak to Jake about your recruiting needs or Tax jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696347 or Back to Tax Movers & Shakers Archive >>


60 Seconds With: Octavia Peters, Operations Finance Director at SEGRO

Octavia Peters is the Operations Finance Director at SEGRO. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant and Corporate Treasurer and has over twenty years of experience in the corporate sector and in practice. Formerly the Head of Treasury and Tax at SEGRO, she is now responsible for operational finance and finance teams across SEGRO PLC. Talk to us about how your role has changed over the last 5 years? It's unrecognisable! 5 years ago I was Head of Tax and Corporate Finance Manager at SEGRO - studying for my ACT exams and working on a number of secured financing transactions alongside my role as Head of Tax with a team of 3. I was promoted to Head of Treasury and Tax in mid-2015 and spent the next 3 years reshaping the Treasury team and focusing on financing transactions – raising more than £3bn in bond and debt facilities, reducing the companies average cost of debt to below 2% and significantly increasing debt maturity and liquidity. In mid-2018 I was asked to take on the role of Operational Finance Director. I’m now responsible for all the operational finance teams across the Group, (40 people spread across 5 countries), budgeting, planning and internal reporting as well as being the financial business partner to the COO. When people are in the role as Head of Tax – what advice would you give them on how to broaden their skill set to get into a more mainstream role like yours is now? Firstly – let people know that you want to expand your role and be very open about it. People can often have quite set ideas of what a Head of Tax should be like and what they want to do – so you need to break down those barriers/mindsets. Secondly – ensure that you have good succession planning in place so that there is someone in place to transition into your old role as you leave it behind and you are not leaving a gap in the business. Thirdly – be patient – it’s easier to transition in an organisation that you already work in, but the opportunities may not come up that frequently. And fourthly – seek out opportunities to work on other projects, on top of your day job, to demonstrate that you have the skills, capabilities and potential to transition. SEGRO – as a listed property investment company, what market changes have affected the business and why? Property investment is a cyclical business and we see property values increasing and decreasing in response to supply and demand changes in both the investment and occupier markets. The impact of very low-interest rates and quantitative easing have positively impacted both the occupier and the investment markets as investors hunt “yield” across all property sectors. However, over the last few years, there has been a “structural” shift in the industrial property sector as increasing urbanisation has both reduced the supply of industrial land in our cities and together with e-commerce has significantly increased demand for warehousing. SEGRO has transformed over the last 8 years and is now the largest listed UK property company. What is great about working for SEGRO? Fantastic, intelligent, professional people. Really interesting, challenging and varied work. It's great to work for a large company – mid-FTSE100 in terms of market cap with a “small company” feel – only 300 employees. You know everyone and can really get things done. 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? My team is 40 people. Roles in property companies don’t come up that often – so if you get a chance take it as they are great companies to work for. How would your team describe you? Intelligent, energetic, determined, hard-working, collaborative approach, strong team player. Values-driven. What advice would you give to your younger self? Also, what advice would you give to people who are in a more junior tax role but looking for a mixed role in tax and finance in later life? Be more confident in your own abilities. Advice to others – think about how the skills you have in tax can transfer across. An ability to understand both complex legal concepts and numbers is very useful in lots of areas of a business. Always be thinking about how you can broaden your skills and gain new experiences. 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? I try not to be biased by first impressions – but I would expect people to come prepared for an interview – and that goes to turning up on time in appropriate business attire, looking smart, clean and presentable - and don’t shake hands like a limp dead fish. What challenges, personally or professionally, do you think the next generation face? The changes to technology are rapidly changing the world of work, meaning that the more basic tasks/roles where I learnt tax technical skills will no longer exist as human jobs. But in the same way that spreadsheets totally changed what most accounting clerks spent their life doing I’m confident that machines won’t replace humans – jobs and work will be very different but we aren’t clear what that will be currently. But smart people with good interpersonal and communication skills and strong emotional intelligence should continue to thrive. What do you do to unwind outside of work? With 3 rugby-obsessed teenage sons, I spend a lot of time at the side of sports pitches watching rugby – but also enjoy playing golf, skiing and baking. Thanks for your time Octavia, and as a little treat for all of our readers… do you have any guilty pleasures you can share with us? Reading fiction – pretty much anything. I have a ridiculous number of books on my Kindle. 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 >>


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 >>



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