Newsletter & Market Report

BLT’s VAT Team distribute a quarterly Newsletter with the latest insights on the world of Indirect Tax.

You can see our latest newsletter below along with links to some of our previous ones.

In addition we publish an Indirect Tax Market Report & Salary Survey every two years, available on request, which is packed to the brim with useful information such as:

  • Detailed global salary bandings and bonus trends for both the professional services and in-house markets;
  • Detailed commentary on the UK and international hiring trends;
  • The efforts to address the gender imbalance;
  • The most popular levels of experience for different types of businesses to recruit from;
  • Qualifications, and much, much more.

To request to be added to the Indirect Tax mailing lists, please send an email to vat@blt.co.uk, acknowledging agreement to BLT’s Privacy Policy so that we can store your email address on our systems.

 

Latest Newsletter

May 2022

Dear Subscriber,

Well, where to start. Busy times in the world of Indirect Tax recruitment has delayed our Spring newsletter to…errrm…Summer; with apologies. As is much publicized, the bounce back post the pandemic in terms of the sheer volume of opportunity around in the UK has been astonishing; we’d estimate approximately triple the volume that was around in 2019. Generalizations, however, don’t give the full picture – some parts of the market remain patchy, whereas in others we’ve never known anything like it! Read on….

Professional Services

Hiring for advisory talent in both VAT and Customs/Global Trade is firmly pitched at ‘early’ Senior Manager, Manager and Assistant Manager levels, with the vibe around more senior hiring being more ‘if the right person arose’ – which, on occasion, is of course happening. Most VAT departments across the Big 4, mid-tier and small firms reported in with exceptional results and profitability over the last few years – a welcome tonic when good news elsewhere was hard to find. Departments are keen to grow, and in some cases, feeling thinly spread at these ‘delivery’ grades, and the fight to both retain and attract talent is intense at these middle levels. When any candidate contemplating switching professional services firms will have the choice of approximately 15 firms of different shapes, sizes and cultures to consider applying to (in London at least) and a good number of in-house options too, the impact on recruitment/retention is feeling pretty seismic.

Examples of retention efforts include firms promoting staff earlier than normal (in some cases, dare we say, ‘over’ promoting?), pay being moved upwards within existing salary bands (more staff being paid at the top of bandings rather than low to middle); secondments in-house; international assignments; sector specialisation switches for staff who want it. In short, listening to what their staff want, and delivering on articulated aspirations. Without taking away from the value of professional qualifications (we’re a big fan round here in these for the long term health of the Indirect Tax world as a technical discipline), individual success (or indeed interest) in passing exams is no longer a criteria for promotion or development prospects. Culture and staff welfare is being closely scrutinized – it’s a brave firm these days that doesn’t offer increasingly flexible working arrangements, with three, sometimes two, days in the office being the norm. Firms who get any part of their retention strategy wrong, do so at their peril….one slip-up is likely to result in a departing valued employee.

From a recruitment perspective, the above retention activities don’t help candidate flow, and candidates are becoming increasingly loyal and hard to source. Particularly when there is a perception that many of those who felt comfortable about switching employers in the last few years have now already done so, and it will take a while for a new batch to start proactively considering their career options. To be successful at hiring in the current job market frenzy, you’ll need to articulate like never before the warmth of the welcome and your working environment that any candidate will get if they join you. You’ll need to flex your selection criteria to match any supply and offer clearly articulated career paths both in the short, medium and long term. Above all, you’ll need to offer decent, appropriate uplifts on current salary packages (in preparation for any counter offer) – but only as much as the candidate’s experience is worth to you. We’ve seen a handful of examples of inappropriately high offers coming through (largely from the corporate in-house world) – a dangerous game to play, not least when the candidate struggles to prove that value to the company on joining. What goes up, may come down…..and when and if the current recruitment bubble bursts, you do wonder how secure such employees will be?

In order to get junior roles filled, some of the larger firms have started to hire those with VAT compliance backgrounds into advisory roles; similarly some large firms have transferred talent from non-European Indirect Tax backgrounds from their overseas offices into their UK teams. The historic constraints of requiring European Indirect Tax career histories for UK roles are being increasingly loosened in such a competitive market, although it remains rare to see firms appoint such individuals externally.

The growth of the Customs & Global Trade advisory discipline remains firmly on the agenda – the real need is for Customs & Global Trade advisory consultants at the middle grades once again – supply never meets demand in what remains a very small population. Considerable efforts are being made to grow teams from the bottom up – graduates entering the discipline; hiring Customs compliance people from industry into the professional services world if they have the right personal and professional attributes to make the transition – but it’s a long road.

In-house

Contrary to general market perception, we wouldn’t say that there’s been more in-house roles than normal – more of the steady stream of interesting roles in fascinating businesses that we’ve come to expect over the last five years. With the worlds of Indirect Tax advisory, compliance and technology becoming ever more intertwined, the bulk of opportunity has again been arising at the Manager level salary equivalents and sometimes ‘early’ Senior Manager level. The hiring difficulties described above in the professional services world is having a considerable impact on in-house hiring too – shortlists are becoming ever shorter. In the VAT world, the continued blurring of distinction between VAT compliance and advisory roles is also proving a factor – those historically trained in advisory work are often reluctant to be burdened by too much compliance responsibility, and pure advisory/strategic roles are becoming increasingly infrequent. Compliance management remains the watchword to match the increasing complexity of the compliance and reporting burden, and it’s becoming increasingly challenging to find those with the professional skills and experience to fulfil European/global compliance oversight responsibilities effectively. You might think that such would invite those whose experience has been more geared towards return completion historically to move up into these more oversight positions – however, the transition into a more strategic and commercially minded senior compliance oversight position (which would often include people management responsibilities) can often prove too big a step.

We were hoping that as Europe returned to some semblance of normality post the pandemic that companies would feel more comfortable about investing in very senior in-house Indirect Tax resource; the awful events in Ukraine will have delayed the sense of security that’s required for such investment. When they have arisen, the senior in-house advisory/strategic positions have been hard fought over – companies prepared to pay north of £130k have the pick of an eager candidate population.

At the VAT Accountant grades, roles for those whose experience is restricted to UK VAT compliance continue to be a rarity; more common have been those needing good practical experience of filing in a number of European countries. Such can be quite hard to fill – we’re firmly blaming Brexit for this, given the exodus of European VAT compliance talent from the UK, and the difficulties of attracting such from overseas with the increased onus of VISA sponsorship.

In the Customs & Global Trade world, the increased admin around Customs declarations has seen the bulk of opportunity being pitched at the junior grades. 2022 has been quieter for in-house roles at the middle and senior end of the spectrum barring a few exceptions – with the bulk of hiring happening in the immediate aftermath of Brexit and beyond. Hopefully this is a temporary blip as the discipline becomes increasingly high profile.

Struggling to recruit?

Guy’s article will give you a few additional pointers on giving yourself the best chance of securing talent in the current climate.

BLT are growing!

We’re delighted to welcome John Barker to our team. John has joined us fresh from his Politics degree as a Researcher/Trainee Recruiter working across both our Indirect Tax & Management Consultancy divisions whilst he decides which sector he prefer (C’mon Indirect Tax!) Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn, say hello etc

What’s on our wishlist right now?

A selection of current roles we’re handling – there’s many more!

For the full list of roles we’re advertising, please click here…..

And finally…

If you’ve got to the end of this newsletter, well done – there’s a lot to say this time around and we could quite happily spend days/weeks talking about everything going on. To subject yourself to that, do give us a call. And seriously, it’s the best market in living memory for those at the mid level roles wondering if grass could be greener elsewhere…..you know where we are.

With very best wishes for the summer

BLT’s Indirect Tax Team

Guy, Emma & John

Previous Newsletters

July 2021 – Newsletter

March 2021 – Newsletter

November 2020 – Newsletter

April 2020 – Newsletter

November 2019 – Newsletter

May 2019 – Newsletter

February 2019 – Newsletter

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