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Jay Sky

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Jay Sky

Senior Consultant | Tax | Financial Services

I specialise in connecting tax professionals with permanent and interim opportunities across the financial services. Focusing particularly on the asset management and insurance industries, my recent placements have included:

- Head of Tax, Asset Management
- Head of Group Tax Reporting, Insurance
- Head of Tax, Banking
- Group Tax Manager, Asset Management
- Corporate Tax Manager, Insurance
- Assistant Tax Manager, Insurance
- Head of Corporation Tax, Banking
- Indirect Tax Manager, Insurance
- Corporate Tax Manager, Asset Management
- Funds Tax Manager, Asset Management
- Head of Tax Advisory, Banking
- International Tax Manager, Pension Fund
- Head of Tax, Proprietary Trading
- Senior VAT Manager, Banking
- Product Tax Advisor, Asset Management

I leverage market-mapping, exclusivity and recommendations to engage my network with the best options available. As an Organisational Psychologist by background, I pride myself on detail-orientation and ensuring 'fit' from both a personality and technical perspective.

jay's latest roles

  • In-House Senior Tax Manager

    + bonuses & benefits

    In-House Senior Tax Manager City of London (based mostly from home) Competitive salary, bonuses & benefits A multinational Financial Services business is currently seeking an In-House Senior Tax Manager due ...

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  • Newly Qualified In-House Tax Manager,...

    £60000 - £65000 per annum + + bonuses, benefits & flexibility

    Newly Qualified In-House Tax Manager, investment management Central London (remote working optional) £60,000-£65,000 + 20-30% bonus, benefits and flexibility A technology-focused investment firm is currently...

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  • In-House Assistant Tax Manager, Finan...

    £55000 - £65000 per annum + + bonuses & benefits

    In-House Assistant Tax Manager, Financial Services City of London - remote working encouraged (2 days in the office) £65,000 + bonus & benefits A rapidly expanding financial services organisation is looking ...

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  • In-House Tax Policy Senior Manager - ...

    Negotiable

    In-House Tax Policy Senior Manager, Financial services Leading benefits, work-life balance & flexibility Central London (remote working encouraged) A leading financial services group is looking for an In-Hou...

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  • In-House Group Tax Manager

    £80000 - £95000 per annum + + 30% bonus, benefits

    Group Tax Manager, In-House Financial Services £80,000-£95,000 + 30% bonuses & benefits Central London, remote working encouraged Part-time requests considered for experienced candidates An established finan...

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  • In-House International Tax Advisory M...

    £75000 - £80000 per annum + + bonuses & benefits

    In-House International Tax Advisory Manager London or Brighton, (remote working encouraged) £75,000-£80,000 + bonuses & benefits A multinational Financial Services business is currently seeking an In-House I...

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  • In-House Senior Tax Manager, Life Ins...

    £80000 - £100000 per annum + + bonuses, benefits & remote working

    In-House Senior Tax Manager, Life Insurance £80,000 - £100,000 + bonuses, benefits & remote working Part-time considered for more experienced candidates A life insurance group is searching for an in-house Se...

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  • In-House Tax Analyst, Private Equity

    Up to £55000 per annum + +30% bonus, 20% pension & benefits

    In-House Senior Tax Analyst, Private Equity £55,000 + bonuses, benefits We are currently searching for a global leader in Private Equity. The team are currently 5 in number and headed up by an impressive Hea...

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  • In-House Tax Manager, Private Equity/...

    £85000 - £95000 per annum + + 20-30% bonuses & benefits`

    In House Tax Manager, Private Equity/Real Estate London £85,000 - £95,000 + 20-30% bonuses & benefits A growing private equity house with a real assets focus is looking to appoint a first tax hire to bring t...

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  • In-House Group Tax Manager, Insurance

    Up to £100000 per annum + + 15% bonus, 12% pension

    In-House Group Tax Manager, Insurance £100,000 + 15% bonuses & benefits Central London (remote working encouraged) A leading brand in the London insurance market is searching for an in-house Group Tax Manage...

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What people say about Jay

Jay stands out from other recruiters by his more personalised and tailored approach to candidates. He managed to find a job, which almost exactly matches my current experience and career aspirations. 

Jay was extremely easy to get along with, pleasant helpful, respectful and professional. I really felt Jay was invested in both parties which resulted in a collaborative and trusting exchange

Jay was great at briefing me regarding the role, the individual I’d be meeting and the business. He gave some great tips for interview preparation and took me through a mock interview, giving me constructive feedback about my responses

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Companies Jay has worked with

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The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited, along with its subsidiaries, is the largest mutual insurer in the United Kingdom, with Group funds under management of £100 billion. 

Man Group is an active investment management firm focused on delivering attractive performance and client portfolio solutions, deploying the latest technology across our business to help ensure they stay at the forefront of our evolving industry.

Chubb Limited, incorporated in Zürich, Switzerland, is the parent company of Chubb, a global provider of insurance products covering property and casualty, accident and health, reinsurance, and life insurance and the largest publicly traded property and casualty company in the world.

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jay's articles

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60 Seconds with: Orla Ralston, European Tax MD at OMERS

Posted by Jay Sky

Orla Ralston is the European Tax MD at OMERS, one of Canada's largest defined benefit pension plans. Orla speaks with Jay Sky, Senior Consultant at Pro-Tax about life at OMERS, her impressive career and the opportunities which have surfaced in the face of the pandemic. Who is OMERS and what does the tax team look like?  We are a Canadian pension plan, serving over 500,000 pensioners based in Ontario that represent the retired employees of about 1000 municipalities such as school boards, libraries, police and fire departments. Part of what we do is to make investments that fund sustainable, meaningful pensions over the long term. Our asset classes include infrastructure, private equity (including ventures), real estate and capital markets.  Our tax team is truly global and covers a wide range of activity. The Global Head of Tax is based in Toronto and our team is divided across the Americas, Europe and APAC and by function: investment tax; tax for the enterprise; and, tax compliance. Of course, none of these areas are mutually exclusive, so inevitably there is a lot of collaboration across the regional and functional teams.  What does your role as MD of Investment Tax include, and what leadership roles do you play? I support our European businesses from a tax perspective on their investments – so I oversee European and UK-based tax professionals who focus on infrastructure, PE, real estate and associated European-wide issues. I also have a broader leadership role within the infrastructure business (beyond tax alone). One of the great things about OMERS is that we recognise each of us has something to offer. In my case, I have always believed that to do well in tax, you really need to engage with the investment team and understand their strategy, drivers, and the commercial rationale behind everything they do. This line of thinking has allowed me to bring another dimension to the leadership team and an element of influence across the London office. You have had an impressive career to date, having held positions in a Magic Circle law firm and a top tier investment bank. How would you compare life at OMERS to these earlier experiences? I joined Slaughter and May as a qualified Solicitor and learned my craft in practice. This involved learning the technical aspects of tax law while working on many different types of transactions, acting for multiple clients. I applied that experience in-house later when I worked at Goldman Sachs, and here - while I had the opportunity to make this role my own -  there was already an established tax team  within which I was able to develop my own  role Although my initial role at GS was to support the real estate investment business (part of the Merchant Banking Division), I saw gaps and opportunities to support a newly created infrastructure business, and then, more latterly, their private equity and debt funds. This was a great experience and how I discovered and learned what it is to be an in-house tax lawyer, and, in particular, how to be commercial in that role. After more than 11 years at GS I had seen a lot of deal activity and was able to bring that experience to OMERS. When I joined OMERS, I was the first European tax team member (in Infrastructure & PE). What I continue to enjoy is the level of integration into the deal teams and the opportunity to have a broader role; understanding and working with the businesses strategically, not purely from a tax perspective.  What made you join OMERS initially, and what might be surprising about the way the business operates? I had not been looking to leave my previous role at GS but OMERS clearly did something to convince me! First and foremost, it was the people. The calibre, intellect and friendliness of everyone I met at OMERS was appealing. Second the ‘pension promise’ was (and still is) a big draw for me. I loved every minute of my career before OMERS too – but knowing that your efforts enable people to retire with a decent pension is of massive importance, and I’m able to be a part of that.  Pension funds might sometimes be considered less active but OMERS has always been and continues to be very active with direct investment and a focus on asset management and value creation at the core of its investment strategy. The degree of sophistication at OMERS allows us to be very hands-on, which always keeps things interesting. How would you describe OMERS’ approach to diversity and inclusiveness? We have always been proactive in this area. There are several employee resource groups at OMERS, but we see diversity in so many other ways too. In London, what I love is that you will hear countless languages around the office; we have a truly global team. We also sponsor events and initiatives which facilitate social change: in 2020 for example our CFO led an event for International Coming Out Day in partnership with OTPP and CIBC, and from London we were joined by Aisha Thomas, Founder of Representation Matters Ltd, for an event for Black History Month - both of these were very powerful. Inevitably, this conversation is a continuing one, but there is certainly a healthy dialogue on this. What has the response to coronavirus been like at OMERS, and what opportunities have surfaced? Our leadership has been very decisive and provided clear direction from the start. First and foremost, the priority was to keep our people safe, and we’ve seen that throughout all levels of the organisation – supported by a lot of communication from our CEO with whom I feel more connected perhaps than ever before. Our IT team enabled a seamless transition to work from home literally overnight, which has allowed among other things a level playing field in terms of connectivity – we’re all in a box on a screen. We have the same means to interact, whether we’re on different sides of the same globe, or different sides of the same office. We can’t replace the human element of interaction of course, but we can do the virtual interactions well and keep a transparent and proactive approach. Now we are reaching out to our people for their views on how we can continue what have been some of the more positive aspects of these changes.  OMERS has a strong record of employee retention. What is it that motivates people to come to work each day? I think the pension promise has a lot to do with this – it’s not something we sit and talk about all day long, but there is this feeling of a common goal between us. In the tax team at OMERS, no two days are the same – there is just so much variety in what we do. Having just 4 of us in Europe means we cover a real breadth between us. We also have real autonomy and ownership. The organisation encourages an almost entrepreneurial attitude: ‘if you see something that makes sense to do, then go ahead and do it, show us why it makes sense’. You mentioned that perhaps one of the greatest assets at OMERS are the people – but also that this group is very diverse. So which type of person will fit into that team best? We encourage the mentality that nobody should underestimate what they can achieve and should not put themselves into a box. We are a team of people who want to make a difference – and while doing so, you can learn so much about investing, our assets, our portfolio. We invest in significant companies which matter in tangible terms – often providing essential services. That’s the joy of infrastructure for me personally. If you are curious, industrious and want to be part of a group who like working and having fun together, you might be a good fit for our team.  For more information on this article, contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or jay.sky@pro-tax.co.uk. Back to 60 Seconds archive >>

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60 Seconds with Michael Barnard, Head of Indirect Tax at BlackRock

Posted by Jay Sky

Michael Barnard is the Head of Indirect Tax at BlackRock, the global investment manager. Michael speaks with Jay Sky, Senior Consultant at Pro-Tax about life at BlackRock, his career defining moments, and the upcoming challenges facing the next generation of tax professionals. BlackRock’s size and stature is market-leading, and a brand name in the financial services sector, but for anyone new to this industry, what do BlackRock actually do? BlackRock is a global investment manager and technology provider. We help investors of all types achieve their financial goals. How would you describe working at BlackRock? BlackRock is a fantastic place to work. There is always something new and challenging to get involved in. There is a powerful culture of collaboration across the entire business with a focus on delivering on our clients’ needs. One thing that has really struck me about working here is the level of intellectual rigour applied to what we do. We question everything and whilst it took me a while to get used to this challenge process to begin with, I realised that once you embrace it, you see just how powerful it can be. BlackRock’s clear and vocal stance on issues such as racial equality, diversity and sustainability makes me proud to work here. What does your role as Global Head of Indirect Tax entail? My role involves setting indirect policy and strategy across all of our global business lines. This encompasses advising on the indirect tax treatment of our services and products, dealing with tax authorities and audits, ensuring the control environment around indirect tax processes for Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable etc. are robust and scalable and staying on top of indirect tax developments worldwide. I do a lot of work with industry bodies to engage with governments and tax authorities to try and help shape indirect tax policy. One of my main priorities at the moment is ensuring that BlackRock is prepared to deal with the digitisation of tax compliance - the advent of Making Tax Digital for VAT in the UK and ISI in Spain being two current examples. There will be a lot more of this in the future and we need to be ready. What type of person does BlackRock keep an eye out for in tax? There’s no particular type, rather we look for people who are smart, obviously, and who can communicate well. So much of what we do involves dealing with internal and external stakeholders and being able to communicate clearly and effectively is vital. Also, we look for someone who thinks beyond the narrow confines of tax technical issues – we need to see what we do in a much wider context and to be able to navigate the tax implications of events like the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and the sustainability agenda. What challenges do you see the asset management industry facing in the near future, and how are BlackRock dealing with these? In a tax sense, a big challenge is preparing for the tech enabled tax authority – being required to provide huge amounts of data in real time in numerous different formats. Also, navigating changes to the VAT regime as it applies to asset management. Both the UK and the European Commission have announced reviews of how VAT works in our sector. It’s vital to stay close to these initiatives and to provide constructive input. What career-defining realisations have there been for you, and what have you learned at BlackRock? I’ve learned that it’s vital to have a good network if you want to have a successful and happy career, and that building your network takes time and effort - but it pays back. Your colleagues want to help you – sometimes you just need to ask them rather than waiting for them to offer. Understanding that you are never the ‘finished article’ is really important. Always be ready to broaden your skill set. Remember that you might not be the smartest person in the room! Listen actively and learn. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something and be open to asking for help in understanding an issue. Taking some risks with your career, within reason, can have surprising results – in a good way. Learn how to distil complex issues into an understandable format for non-specialists. Senior leaders generally don’t want to go into the tax ‘weeds’ with you. Keep it brief. Your profile is a little unusual in that you never made the move into practice - you started your career at HMRC and have climbed to a very senior level in-house. How was the transition from HMRC for you, and what did you take from this experience? This was a long time ago! I enjoyed working for HMRC - it was Customs & Excise back then - and I learned a lot very quickly and worked with some great people. My time at HMRC gave me some useful insight into their organisation and processes which I think has been useful in helping me work effectively with HMRC officers since I left. The one thing I do remember is that the culture was different when I moved into industry, which took a bit of getting used to. However, looking back I realise that the culture shock was quite short-lived and the challenge of adapting to a new environment was something that I actually enjoyed. As the most senior figure for indirect taxation at BlackRock, how do you maintain your technical skill set? I make time to consume technical output from the accountancy and law firms as well as speaking to other VAT specialists in my network about current industry issues. I also try and stay close to what’s happening in our industry more generally, not just tax related content. I’m currently Chair of the Investment Association (IA) VAT Committee and also a member of the European Fund and Asset Management Association VAT Task Force (EFAMA). My involvement in these groups helps keep me up-to-date on a whole host of technical issues, not just VAT related, and puts me in contact with some of the best Asset Management VAT brains out there. What advice would you offer someone looking to shape enhance their tax career in asset management? Learn about the industry at a wider level – not just through a tax lens. A broader understanding will help shape better VAT decisions. Look to get involved in industry-level working groups – this will help build your profile, expose you to a wider range of technical issues and enable you to build your network. Be prepared to take some risks in order to develop. ​ For more information on this article, contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or jay.sky@pro-tax.co.uk. Back to 60 Seconds archive >>

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60 Seconds with: Stephanie Fielding, Global Tax Director at Bupa

Posted by Jay Sky

Stephanie Fielding is the Global Tax Director at Bupa, one of the UK's leading healthcare specialists and a globally renowned brand. Stephanie speaks with Jay Sky, Senior Consultant at Pro-Tax about life at Bupa, and its response to Covid-19, advice on managing large teams remotely, and the tips for anyone looking for a career with Bupa.  Bupa is a brand name with little need for introduction. But for anybody who isn’t aware – what is it that Bupa do?  Bupa’s purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives. With no shareholders, we reinvest profits to benefit our current and future customers. We are an international health insurance and provision business. Health insurance accounts for the major part of our business with 18m customers and contributes 74% of revenue. We operate clinics, dental centres and hospitals in some markets, and we run aged care businesses in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Spain. We directly employ around 83,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Chile, Poland, Hong Kong, Turkey, Brazil, the US, Middle East and Ireland. We also have associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.  What does your role at Bupa include, and what do you enjoy about your work?  I am Bupa’s Global Tax Director and lead a team of high calibre people around the world. I am passionate about supporting our organisation to serve our customers. I really enjoy leading people and developing them. I also run Bupa’s Finance Graduate programme which is so fulfilling to see people's development. In addition, I really enjoy the sheer variety of the work we do from ensuring Bupa is compliant, supporting M&A and innovation, managing Tax Authority enquiries and a variety of other transactions and projects. The team is forward-looking, which makes us well placed to deal with the constantly evolving tax environment. We operate with a mindset of continuous improvement so that we remain relevant and, importantly, that we have strong governance in place and that we are always customer focused in everything we do.   How would you describe the culture of the tax team at Bupa?  I would describe the culture as inclusive, diverse, respectful and a real sense of team effort. We work hard but also enjoy the social aspect (well pre-Covid). Globally, we are a really connected team and work together to tackle challenges. We also tend to operate in a “boundary less” way, utilising our skills where needed rather than reporting lines which has served us well over the years. When we recruit, culture is one of the most important factors we consider (i.e. will the individuals fit with the existing culture in a positive way).  You’ve been in a tax leadership position with Bupa since 2007, between Australia and the UK. Thinking back, what made you join initially, and what learning milestones have there been for you along the way? I originally joined Bupa through an acquired company in Australia. Bupa’s presence in Australia at the time was small, with no tax team, so this acquisition followed by the large insurance acquisition 6 months later, required a dedicated tax function, which I led building the team, process and systems from the ground up. I liked the fact that Bupa was expanding globally and knew that this would lead to interesting opportunities and the ability for myself to develop. It was a big job, but it was an amazing opportunity and it was in this role that I learned the importance of good leadership and relationships and having the right people with the right skills. Bupa is a matrix management organisation so the key to making an impact and getting things done is good stakeholder management across the matrix environment. This was especially true when I moved over to take the role in London. To be successful, you need to always “step into the shoes” of your stakeholders locally. If you understand what is important to them, you will understand how to be a good business partner. In addition, I would say that having worked within a business unit and then at Group, it helps to understand both perspectives when undertaking my role and any course of action.  I would also again highlight the importance of creating a good culture, which fosters individuals to perform at their best and empowering people for success by providing an environment of continuous improvement.  Remaining relevant – constantly looking ahead so we don’t become complacent and can deal with the ever-changing environment. Our mantra is business led not tax led.  What has been the response to Covid-19 at Bupa?  Bupa’s priority has been to focus on the welfare of our customers, our people and society, and play our part in government and public health responses to Covid-19. Our hospitals and clinics supported the national public health response across different countries, treating Covid-19 patients and providing capacity to the public health systems. Our people have played a huge part in the Covid-19 response, working on the front line to support customers and contribute to the national responses. Over half of the people Bupa employs worldwide are clinicians and carers, and many are part of the public health efforts. Our priority is to continue to keep our people safe and well so they, in turn, can care for patients where we have hospitals as well as residents in our care homes and villages.  We have rapidly adapted to the new normal. To do so, we significantly expanded our telehealth and digital healthcare services so customers could continue to access care and advice from our nurses, GPs and consultants by telephone and video link. We have also seen record levels of calls to our helplines and use of online resources, particularly for support on mental health and wellbeing. In every country we operate in, we’re responding to the new and emerging needs of individuals and organisations. We have taken a range of targeted actions including delaying approved premium increases, reviewing excess clauses and providing support for those experiencing financial hardship.  We swiftly enacted remote working capabilities wherever possible and nearly all our people worldwide have been able to continue to work effectively through the pandemic. We have introduced new technologies to enhance collaboration and connectivity. In some countries we are returning to the office but in a safe and measured way, with new processes and procedures to ensure we stay safe and well.  We are also playing our part in the communities in which we operate. We are engaging with local and national community partners through our Bupa Foundations and through volunteering and fundraising to support their work at this difficult time.  I am immensely proud of how Bupa has responded and adapted and have personally found it rewarding to be part of the Covid response team and see first-hand how we have put people and customers first.  How have you and the wider tax team at Bupa adjusted to the remote working model?  In many respects the remote model is “normal” for the wider team as we have tax teams located in many different countries around the world, so we have always worked remotely. However, strangely, working from home has meant we are more connected than ever as we make a concerted effort to catch up regularly as a team and individually, and the introduction of Microsoft teams has led to easier collaboration and is working really well for us. It has improved efficiency and connectivity, so we don’t really notice not being in the office. The only real downside is the social aspect, we all miss that, but under the circumstances I am really proud of how the team has responded and continued to deliver and add value.  You mentioned previously that your role is not so much focused on the ‘tax technical’ as it is on the leadership of a large team. What advice/insight might you offer tax leaders who were less accustomed to managing sizable teams on a remote basis?  Focus on culture, make a concerted effort to catch up regularly from both a work and social perspective. Be available and check in with individuals. Keep the focus on the customer, be clear on priorities and critical activity and be agile to adjust to changing conditions or environment.  What kind of person might you keep an eye out for in the Tax Team?  Commercially focused individuals that have the confidence to deal with people at all levels across the organisation. Business led rather than tax led. Individuals that are customer and outcome focused. Individuals that are keen to develop.  What advice might you offer to anyone considering applying for a role in the tax team at Bupa?  Have a focus on business rather than just showcasing tax technical skill Have a sense of “work hard, play hard” Expect the unexpected Be agile and forward thinking Be keen to develop. For more information on this article, please contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or jay.sky@pro-tax.co.uk.

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60 seconds with: Kate Tongue, Head of Corporate Tax at Argenta Group

Posted by Jay Sky

Kate Tongue is the Head of Corporate Tax at Argenta Group. Argenta Holdings Limited has a diversified portfolio of businesses focused on the Lloyd’s market in London. Kate speaks with Jay Sky, Senior Consultant at Pro-Tax about life at Argenta Group, the contrasting practice and in-house environments, and shares insight into the effects of COVID19 on the Lloyd’s market. For anyone who isn’t aware – who are Argenta, and what do they actually do? Argenta Group is headquartered in London, employing around 200 people globally, with office locations in Singapore, Australia and a presence on the Lloyd’s China platform. We are proud of our unique and rich history of trading in the Lloyd’s market. In 2017 Argenta was acquired by Hannover Re, the third largest reinsurer in the world, which has helped strengthen our position in the market and is expected to bring some exciting opportunities in years to come. Argenta Group has three key businesses in the UK, operating within the Lloyd’s market; Argenta Syndicate Management Limited, which manages Syndicate capacity of c£570m, Argenta Private Capital Limited, which prides itself in advising c550 clients and represents almost £2.4bn of capacity, and Argenta Tax and Corporate Services Limited, which provides tax, accounting and company secretarial services to around 800 clients and supports the internal group. What does your role at Argenta involve, and what do you enjoy about your work? I am a Director of Argenta Tax and Corporate Services Limited and head up the Corporate Tax team. I am responsible for client delivery, new business, finances and team development. I am also responsible for tax within the Argenta Group and support associated companies with tax compliance and reporting. I enjoy the variety of work and freedom and flexibility to focus my efforts where I choose. For example, my weekly workload can include tax provisioning, supporting potential new clients with structuring their underwriting vehicles in the most tax efficient manner, developing our processes and assessing our requirements under DAC6, and looking at the tax implications of possible acquisitions. The office atmosphere is extremely professional and everyone is very friendly and supportive. I’ve only been at Argenta for just over a year and its thanks to the people who I work with that I settled in so quickly and really feel at home. How would you describe the culture at Argenta? The people are key at Argenta and we have a long standing workforce who we recognise as our greatest asset.  It’s an inclusive, friendly and social group who work collaboratively towards common goals. I’ve found it a great place to learn and grow, and that hard work is recognised and rewarded. The team spirit has been maintained throughout lockdown through regular formal and informal catch ups.   Why did you join Argenta personally, and what milestones have there been for you since? I was looking to move away from practice and try something new. I enjoy the challenges that come with working in the Lloyd’s market and the opportunity to head up a team with the flexibility to direct it how I choose. It was a great opportunity. It’s also a unique role with responsibilities both in-house as well as having a large number of external clients which appealed to me. Milestone wise, I am proud to have set up new processes around tax risk and compliance, and initiated more cohesive working between tax functions across the wider Hannover Re group. I was appointed to the Board last year which presented new challenges to overcome! Some are not aware that Argenta provide tax services to a large client base. For anyone with a practice background who is keen to consider in-house options, how would you characterise working at Argenta? Argenta Tax and Corporate Services has over 800 clients which certainly keeps us busy.  The majority of clients are small family owned businesses operating as Lloyd’s corporate members. We do personal tax for brokers and individuals and manage a mix of LLPs and limited companies and also some large international groups, so again a unique role for someone who understands the tax issues affecting Owner Managed Business type clients such as loans to participators and share buy backs, and wider insurance tax issues such as BEAT, transfer pricing and DAC6.  Or someone who is willing and quick to learn!  It is a mixed role both in terms of client base but also with the in-house role requirements which include Argenta group tax compliance and operations, tax reporting, restructuring, acquisitions etc. How are Argenta responding in the given climate, and how would you describe the impact of Covid-19 on the Lloyd’s market? Really well – we are largely all still working effectively and efficiently at home and are in the process of working out how to get some of the team back in the office safely. The business has made it clear the safety of its employees and their families is key. The economic shock of Covid-19 has weakened the insurer's balance sheets all around the world. Analysis by the Corporation of Lloyd’s suggested that $100bn of asset value has been removed from the global insurance industry’s balance sheets. However, as a result, rates are increasing considerably making 2021 a good opportunity for new investors. What kind of person might you keep an eye out for in the Tax Team? I would be interested in someone who is versatile, hardworking and keen to take responsibility and operate autonomously, but with the ability to ask for help and guidance when needed. Someone who is keen and quick to learn with experience in the Lloyd’s market and with both an accounting and tax qualification (or significant experience), who is able to build relationships with internal stakeholders and key contacts in the market. What advice might you offer to anyone considering applying for a role in your team? Make sure you are aware of issues affecting Lloyd’s limited liability vehicles and are prepared to work hard in return for good rewards. For more information on this article, contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or jay.sky@pro-tax.co.uk. Back to 60 Seconds archive >>

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A Brave New World - Leaving the EU

Posted by Jay Sky

At Pro-Tax, we are keen to keep you abreast of all the latest insights and news affecting the sector. We are proud to be working in Partnership with the ABI to host a breakfast event covering topics across insurance tax and the upcoming challenges the sector faces in 2020. In this guest article, David Jordorson of the ABI shares his thoughts on leaving the EU. And thus after 47 years’ membership the UK leaves the European Union, in an atmosphere strangely muted for 11pm on a Friday night at the end of dry January. Given little will change until 31 December, a feeling of anti-climax after such seismic change is probably inevitable. Now the UK is free to seize the opportunities afforded by Brexit, from which a distant observer of the process might assume the UK economy is dominated by fishing and farming. ”O brave new world, that has such people in it!” Whether Shakespeare had Dominic Cummings in mind has not been established to a certainty. The business pages are filled with speculation about the impact on the UK economy at a time filled with change - with a new PM, a new Chancellor and shortly a new governor at the Bank of England. Given the government’s unaccustomed majority, the sense is of a sudden freedom of choice, although the new administration has social and economic promises to keep. There are no immediate tax changes caused by Brexit – VAT rules for goods and services alike remain the same (see below), and even the jurisdiction of the CJEU remains intact for this calendar year. The negotiations regarding the future trade relationship start in March, but the government hopes to move the conversation on and relegate Europe to the back pages. By that time, some big decisions in the PM’s in-tray on his arrival may have been taken, though the consequences will not be apparent for some time. With a Budget almost exactly two months after the election and less than six weeks after Brexit, the Chancellor is likely to do little more on 11 March (tbc) than set the tone and produce some quick fixes, tax giveaways being limited at this point to a NI threshold increase (loose campaign talk of bigger plans shelved for now). The ABI is asking for a cut in the IPT standard rate as part of its ongoing campaign against increases. We expect a Spending Review in the Summer and perhaps an Autumn Budget to prepare for the post-transition period. A roadmap for the years ahead would be welcome. HMRC announced on 31 January that new VAT regulations had been introduced, effective that day, to enable the current VAT recovery position for UK supplies of financial services to remain exempt with no input tax recovery. (Had this housekeeping not been done, financial services within the UK would have become effectively zero rated by virtue of being supplied to a non-EU territory). How the UK proposes to treat the supply of financial services to the EU after the transitional period remains uncertain – but the logical basis for distinguishing between EU countries and others is not clear. Making a busy day of it, the OECD announced on Friday 31 January that the Inclusive Framework of 137 member countries had affirmed their commitment to reach an agreement by the end of 2020. This was accompanied by a Statement setting out further details of Pillar 1 and an update on Pillar 2. This and other tax issues for 2020 will be discussed at the ABI/Pro-Tax breakfast event on 31 March – this event is free and early registration is therefore encouraged. This article was written by David Jordorson of the ABI.  David is a member of the tax team within the prudential regulation directorate with responsibility for indirect taxes in relation to life and general insurance companies and the taxation of insurance products. He joined the ABI in 2015 having previously been Head of VAT at the Marsh & McLennan Companies group (MMC).  He also worked on insurance and financial services at KPMG, Coopers & Lybrand and the Royal Bank of Scotland. He started his career at HM Revenue & Customs, having studied English & European Literature at Warwick University. For more information about the event, the ABI or how Pro-Tax can help with your recruiting needs, contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or email jay.sky@pro-tax.co.uk

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In Partnership with ABI - Insurance Tax: Upcoming Challenges in 2020

Posted by Jay Sky

You are invited to the upcoming ABI breakfast event in partnership with Pro-Tax With upcoming developments around IFRS 17, DAC6, VAT, IPT, digitisation and the newly formed government to manoeuvre Brexit, 2020 promises to be a pivotal year for the insurance taxation landscape. Join Mervyn Skeet and a panel of industry-leading experts in discussing such issues; to include Big 4 Partners through to industry Heads and regulatory specialists. When: 31 March 2020 - 08:00 to 10:00  Where: The ABI - One America Square, 17 Crosswall, London, EC3N 2LB Cost: Free upon registration Register here >> This event will benefit tax leaders in the insurance space, so feel free to forward this invite to your peers. I look forward to you seeing you on the morning.  For more information about the event and the panelists, contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or email jay.sky@pro-tax.co.uk

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Preparing for Unstructured Interviews: a Framework, with Common Shortfalls to Avoid

Posted by Jay Sky

Despite many candidates preparing what can seem like heaps of company research and technical revisions, unstructured interviews are generally a relaxed approach to exploring candidates’ fundamental interest and competence. Reflections on personal interests and competencies are amongst both the most basic and forgotten aspects of preparation, at all levels from the newly qualified to the Heads of Tax searches. The aim is not to rehearse answers to the effect of becoming robotic or scripted. Rather, it is important to evaluate your own motivations and skill-set as a business-case offering and reflect on how this can be illustrated to a decision-maker in perhaps just one hour. Interest-based questions Quite simply, an interest-based question is one which probes your motivations for leaving/applying. The recommendation is to bullet-point 5 features of interest, from your research of the company and specification, to each of the following questions: 1. Why are you leaving? 2. Why this company? 3. Why this role? Mistake #1 – answering a different question When taking interview feedback from clients, it often surprises to see how many candidates have answered a completely different question when running through these fundamental considerations. Or at least, surprising to see how many candidates have digressed, or mixed two (or more) questions together in a way which leave the interviewer with real uncertainty over the original query. For instance, "why this company?" is too often taken for "why this role?" (very distinct), before really digressing into reasons for leaving (when not asked). Mistake #2 – demonstrability and memorability It is not uncommon that candidates' interests in applying are rather similar. Imagine you’re interviewing 4-5 candidates, back-to-back, and all interviewees list the same features of interest here. How do you filter out those which seem the most genuine, and more pressing, how do you remember who said what, if all reasons are near-identical? Though the reasons for applying within the competition pool may be practically the same, usually one person’s answers just stand out. In these cases, their interests are often articulated in a way which just ‘sticks’ as both demonstrable and memorable, to the extent there’s no need for the interviewer to revert and check their notes. The solution: Reflect on your BFFs, in advance You can reflect on what from your Background leads you to this Feature of interest (in the company/role), and how this relates to your and Future intentions (BFF). Contextualising the answer with a past sentiment and forward-looking goal in this way anchors your reasons as both demonstrable and memorable, relative to just listing the same features of interest as your competition pool. The suggestion is not to launch 5-10 BFF’s at your interviewer in one go. Rather, the aim is to concisely deliver those Features of interest (elaborating where appropriate), while being ready for the follow-up question of “why is this aspect interesting?”. Competency-based questions  A competency-based question is one which asks for behavioural descriptions in a given scenario, intended to probe a specific capability. For instance, “tell me about a time when you showed ‘x’…” (past-orientation), or “tell me what you would do if ‘y’…” (future-orientation). The questions below are not technically competency-based, but often determine those which follow. Here, the recommendation is to list 5 answers to each of the following questions, once having examined the job specification. 1. What are your strengths (why hire you for this)? 2. What are your weaknesses (why not hire you for this)? Mistake #3 – the questions candidates set themselves up for Often, it’s not the format of the follow-up (competency-based) questions which are difficult, but the capability which the candidate has pitched themselves against. For instance, if an answer is “I am self-motivated/a hard-worker", the only follow-up competency-based question foreseeable is “tell me about a time when you showed self-motivation/hard work?”. Would the person asking, or answering this question look more ridiculous? The likelihood is that if a time-bound, specific follow-up example cannot be provided, your reason is neither sufficiently demonstrable nor memorable beyond that already achieved by a CV. The solution: Set your answer up as a STAR For every response you provide, you need to be ready for the follow-up question, “tell me about a time when you have shown this”. This follow-up question is asking for a specific example of behavioural patterns you have shown (or would show) in a given situation, and not descriptions of your general responsibilities. The go-to structure to handle competency-based questions effectively is the STAR format. This consists of a specific Situation you were in, a Task you were faced with, the behavioural Actions ‘you’ (not ‘we’) took, and the Results which you achieved. The STAR format can also apply for future-bound competency-based questions. In these instances, STAR can be adapted by contextualising the answer with a hypothetical situation and task, before running through anticipated actions and results. Whereas most candidates would simply list the actions they would take, ‘setting the scene’ of your actions in this way can help orient your own thinking and communicate your actions to the interviewer more tangibly. Mistake #4 – impression-management, rather than honesty While this question is often seen as horribly cliché and perhaps a little uncomfortable to answer openly, no selection process is complete without this being considered in some way. We all have developmental areas, and ostensibly, both parties would rather be aware of these from the start, rather than when expectations are falling short, 3-6 months in. So, think carefully prior to falling into the trap of framing disguise a strength as a weakness (e.g. “I’m a bit too much of a perfectionist”). The solution: reflect on as many weaknesses as possible Thinking about where your strengths may fall short against the job specification and what you are doing to address this gap will leave you in good stead to manage the topic of developmental areas when they arise. Asking this question back (e.g. “where might you see my developmental areas in relation to this role?”) is also a great follow-up question to openly address any potential reservations, and is the one question you should be asking in every interview! Summary Overall, these questions are a little cliche, but for good reason - they are essential for both the interviewer and interviewee to ask, especially in a selection process which is largely unstructured. If after a discussion with your recruiter, you just can’t list at least one key answer to any of these questions – really consider if this opportunity is worth interviewing for at all! Some of the most common mistakes in preparing for unstructured interviews revolve around these basic reflections made (or more often not made) in advance, which impact on the demonstrability and memorability of answers for these fundamental questions, and the follow-ups. Looking for help with interview preparations, or have a request for the next blog? Contact Jay Sky on 020 7269 6343 or jay.sky@pro-tax.co.uk.

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In-House Tax: 5 Tips to Improve your Career Planning at the Newly Qualified Level

Posted by Jay Sky

So, you’ve passed your CTA (or equivalent) – 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 qualification under your belt, here are my top tips to help direct your search and steer-clear of the common shortfalls. 1 - Know the breadth of skills needed for in-house tax As covered by various senior figures in our “60 seconds with…” interview 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 “60 Seconds With: John Powlton, Head of Real Estate Tax at M&G Investments” 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 tax professionals. 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: 1. The pyramid hierarchy of most companies dictates less positions exist. 2. There are considerably more senior-level applicants than those at the more junior level. 3. 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 in-house starting salary Money will advance the cash in your pocket for today – but not necessarily your career for tomorrow. Becoming newly qualified 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 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 on 020 7269 6343 or jay.sky@pro-tax.co.uk.

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