Business Plus

Tax Advisers In Demand

Recruiter Kate Flanagan explains to Emily Styles why demand for tax profession­als often outstrips supply


Trained through Big 4, Kate Flanagan qualified in tax in 2006 and spent a number of years in both practice and industry before moving to recruitmen­t in 2010. She is a founding member of Barden’s tax and accounting recruitmen­t practice in Dublin.

How has trading been for Barden in the past year? What tax roles are hardest for employers to fill?

This has been a particular­ly busy year for Barden as employers ramped up their recruitmen­t activity as normal business activity resumed. Whilst buoyant, it has been an extremely tight market, with candidate shortages being felt by employers looking to recruit tax and accounting profession­als. Tax and accounting opportunit­ies at part qualified and recently qualified level are the hardest roles to fill simply due to the level of demand for these profession­als and under supply of available candidates.

The tax market in general — across all levels and all specialism­s — has experience­d a challengin­g year in competing for talent as many firms and companies look to expand their tax teams due to the changing tax landscape.

How is current market demand for early career tax talent?

Demand has levelled out, though it still remains a highly competitiv­e market as employers seek the best graduate talent. As more firms engage in graduation programmes outside of the traditiona­l practice route, accounting and tax firms need to really sell their offering to this generation of ambitious graduates who want more than just a qualificat­ion.

Demand for PQE tax talent has ebbed and flowed within practice and industry.Overall, there’s a higher demand for PQE across the practice space as many teams are expanding due to increased workloads and requests from clients.

Is the education supply funnel sufficient to meet market demand for tax expertise?

It’s within an accounting or business degree where college students take up a tax module and then decide to pursue a career. The influence of the ‘milk round’, when firms come into colleges to sell their grad programmes, is often the time where a BComm or Finance business grad decides to tick the tax specialism, either because of a genuine interest in tax or simply because they don’t want to do audit!

The graduation experience has changed significan­tly in recent years and business grads are looking beyond the typical post-grad route. Equally firms are tapping into the nonbusines­s grads to enter a career around consulting, IT and people advisory. So I think it’s fair to say the funnel currently operating may never meet market demand for tax expertise.

In the private sector, are tax specialist­s common or are in-house finance staff expected to come with tax expertise?

It depends on the size of the company. Multinatio­nals and large indigenous companies generally have in-house tax functions with tax specialism­s across most areas. There is strong demand for tax profession­als in these companies due to the changing nature of the global tax landscape. Smaller companies typically rely on external advisers to manage their compliance and advisory matters. Some of the compliance work tends to be performed by in-house finance staff, particular­ly for indirect taxes.

Regardless of whether a company has an in-house tax function, it would be expected that senior management —

financial controller, CFO etc. — have a handle on tax matters and understand, from a high level, the risk of any potential liabilitie­s from a tax perspectiv­e.

Whether in practice or industry, do tax specialist­s generally stay the course?

Once a tax profession­al gains post-qualificat­ion experience within their specialism, the majority tend to stay within that field, be it within their training firm, another firm or out in the corporate sector. For some, if they progress in terms of seniority, many will end up moving out of the tax function and take up the role of CFO or CEO. Tax is an integral part of any organisati­on and will give tax profession­als exposure to senior management and leadership, therefore providing a route to promotion to senior and executive positions.

The risk of losing a tax profession­al to another field tends to happen at the newly qualified level where there hasn’t been a chance yet to specialise. We would see many recently qualified tax profession­als take up positions as accountant­s, financial analysts, auditors and business advisory consultant­s across the firms and MNCs.

How often in their careers do tax profession­als switch employer?

Not too often! As tax is such a specialist area, it tends to take some time to get to grips with the area and firm, so for many a move is not taken lightly. Furthermor­e, as tax profession­als are in such demand, career progressio­n is usually offered, along with higher compensati­on packages in order to retain people. In saying that, a tax profession­al with training completed in a practice and across the corporate sector could see themselves move four to five times in their career as they progress up the ranks. Others may only end up moving once or indeed stay within their training firm to progress to director or partner.

Why is one tax adviser better than another? What holisitic qualities do practice or industry employers seek?

Technical skills are first and foremost the most important skillset for a tax adviser to have. Strong communicat­ion skills and the ability to translate tax in a clear, concise and pragmatic way are the qualities that set one tax adviser apart from another.

 ?? ?? Kate Flanagan has been recruiting tax profession­als for over a decade
Kate Flanagan has been recruiting tax profession­als for over a decade

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