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A direct contact for Direct Tax recruitment

As a result of the increased activity in Harvey John’s tax recruitment department, Ed Moore is stepping up to a new role as Senior Consultant, Direct Tax.

Who looks after direct tax in an organisation? The answer tends to depend on the size of the business or institution. In a smaller business, the Corporation Tax and other direct taxes may be looked after by the Financial Director or the accounts department. However, for those companies with the resources, a dedicated tax professional is the answer.

At Harvey John, up to now, direct tax placements have largely remained in the very capable hands of our accountancy/ finance experts. Meanwhile, we have seen a steep growth in our niche indirect tax and tax technology department, led by Alex Mann.

Now, we are excited to announce that Ed Moore will be our specialist lead for direct tax appointments on an EMEA wide-scale…

Q&A with Ed Moore

Why is there a need for companies to have a Direct Tax Specialist?

There comes a point where a company grows to such a size that tax becomes a discipline in its own right. A smaller company will often have a finance team with an accountant who covers the tax side, perhaps complemented by a third party Tax Consultant.

When a company grows it can save a lot of money by employing a dedicated tax professional who can streamline internal tax processes (reducing those third-party tax service provider costs!). It is always sensible for medium-sized companies to bring a Tax Accountant on board when operations/revenue start a rapid incline.

“It is always sensible for medium sized companies to bring a Tax Accountant on board when operations/revenue start a rapid incline.”

Fast forward in time, and you’ll see larger companies get to the stage where tax obligations increase, resulting in the need for specialist teams dedicated solely to their respected taxes such as Corporation Tax or VAT.

Is there a difference in the way the Finance and Tax recruitment teams work at Harvey John?The main difference is probably the geographical spread of roles and candidates. Up to now, most (but not all) of our financial recruitment tends to be in or around the South East of the UK. Many firms work on a regional basis and they often want to recruit a Financial Controller or Accountant who is based locally.

Although things have changed slightly in recent years, tax roles are less likely to be region-specific. My recruitment experience in tax has been across the whole of the UK & EMEA.

It allows us to offer a broader scope. If we get a candidate with international tax experience, we won’t just be talking about roles in just the UK, we also look at opportunities around the world.

The fact that tax recruitment is global has meant that I’ve had the pleasure of working with multinational businesses across the world.

Another difference that adds to the complexity of direct tax recruitment is just how niche direct tax can be. Across tax in general we cover tax technology, compliance and general advisory roles. On the direct tax side, specialisms include:

  • Corporate tax
  • Personal tax
  • Employment tax
  • Transfer pricing
  • International tax
  • M&A and infrastructure tax
  • R&D

What makes it such an interesting market is that we see the tax landscape evolve month in, month out. Especially when viewing this on a global scale!

Having researched and provided recruitment market data on a monthly basis via our tax news bulletin, it’s provided us with the market knowledge needed to navigate such a specialist market.

For me, having worked on direct tax positions in the past, as well as a number of mixed tax roles, it’s seemed now more than ever, an appropriate time to bolster our direct tax offering by allocating more time and resources to these areas of tax.

What will you be looking for in a candidate?

Tax has a stigma for being dry and boring and, if we’re being honest, so do the professionals working in the space. But this is far from the truth. We come across some amazing personalities in the tax world and, with tax playing a more central role in in-house teams, the tax professionals of today need to be more than just technical. They need commerciality, they need to be able to influence, they now need to be tech-savvy due to the digitalisation of tax. The candidates we look for ultimately depend on what the clients want. The candidates we get excited about, however, are the ones that can demonstrate the above!

Another area that we look at is the experience of the candidate. As specialist tax recruiters, we recognise that grades and hierarchies aren’t the same in all businesses. We look at the variables at play, the size of the business, the stakeholders this candidate will need to influence. An FTSE250 Head of Tax, for instance, may not be the front runner for an FTSE50 Head of Tax role. Equally, a Tax Manager in an FTSE 100 could be a plausible Director in an FTSE250.

But to summarise, we first look at what the candidate wants, then qualify them to the right roles. A candidate who has done their research and is as transparent as possible is always a winner in our eyes. Naturally, the ‘right’ candidate background varies dependent on the role they’re looking for.

How is the market right now?

Although it’s not yet at the levels of activity we saw in 2019 and Q1 2020, a lot of the big firms and companies are still hiring for essential or strategic hires. Some companies do have blanket bans on recruitment due to the pandemic but, when these are lifted, I think there will be pent-up demand for tax professionals.

“I think there will be pent-up demand for tax professionals.”

There is still a high demand for experienced tax professionals in the in-house market. We are seeing most openings at Manager or Assistant Manager level. Tax has always been a constant, so the demand will always be there.

What is your background?

I come from a wine background! I graduated with a very non-accountancy degree – I studied sports coaching. I went into a graduate management course with Majestic Wine where, after taking my wine qualifications, I would advise people on how to choose wines for different occasions.

Even now, I always get the job of choosing the wine at our Christmas do, which is always a lot of pressure with the MD looking over my shoulder at the prices! Having studied wine, it does come in handy when I get to choose the wine in client meetings.

I found my recruitment position at Harvey John via a REC2REC agency, which effectively recruits recruiters. I was very impressed by the service and attention I received when I went through the job application process, and that spurred me on to offer the same level of service once in the role (I’ve not looked back!).

From day one at Harvey John I was impressed by the service offered to both clients and candidates. One of the most important aspects of the Harvey John service is keeping in contact with candidates and keeping them informed of progress, even if there isn’t anything new to report. A call of reassurance always helps if there is a bit of a delay – and I remember how that made me feel better when I was a candidate. You treat people how you want to be treated.

I have learnt so much since I have been here. There are several learning techniques that Harvey John use, and we benefit from a programme of external training here, as well as on the job training.  You get a lot of helpful feedback from the leadership team, including the Managing Director, and they are always keen to ensure that we get all the resources needed. When I started I was reading volumes of blogs, watching videos, listening to calls made by Alex Mann and making copious notes. I have quite a meticulous outlook.

At first, the tax industry was very new to me but I found that if you are respectful and honest with people you can build up strong relationships. I have tried to learn as much as possible about the sector by going to industry events and talking to as many tax professionals as possible.

I am now approaching three years in the role and I am keen to take my experience and knowledge into the focused direct tax role. It is an exciting move and I am looking forward to helping expand HJ’s reach across the tax community so we can continue connecting tax professionals and hiring managers who may not otherwise be able to connect themselves.

Ed Moore is a Senior Consultant in the Tax Division at Harvey John.

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