Q2 2019 Round-up: FS & Insurance Indirect Tax

Each quarter, our specialist Indirect Tax team monitors the number of in-house vacancies released onto the job market across Europe to provide you with a quarterly overview of recruiting trends. The data below provides a digestible snapshot of the in-house market from adverts posted directly by employers.*

*Note – we omit the number of confidential mandates that HJ are assigned or job adverts posted by other recruitment firms. It should also be highlighted that many vacancies go unadvertised due to confidential or highly sensitive searches.

What happened in Q2?

Q2 2019, as predicted at the end of Q1, has seen an increase in job market activity in both the UK & Benelux regions. Several highlights have stood out over the past 3 months. There have been many Senior-level positions advertised, including several VP, Director, and Head of graded roles. Quite the opposite when compared with Q1, which was dominated by Junior & Manager level positions.

Considering there were only 21 advertised vacancies in Q1, this quarter’s meteoric rise to 39 advertised positions is a welcomed sight! Figure 1 separates the number of vacancies between both regions.

A key theme shared amongst the UK & BENELUX regions is the demand for Manager level candidates. At the start of the year, it was the Assistant Manager level candidate that was so sought after. One interpretation of the switch could well be employers changing their specifications around certain roles.

Key trends to note:
Snr Director / ‘Head of’ / VP2
  • roles were advertised in Q2 (UK only). This is a surprisingly high number as, at this level, there’s a minimal chance that a candidate will apply via normal methods. I’d predict that there have been several more vacancies at this level, likely via external headhunters.
  • A distinctive mix of vacancies at this level (16.7%). The majority of which are based within the UK regions. Something I find quite surprising is that London hosts the headquarters for most financial institutions. Many of the large FS & Insurance companies will often have multiple offices around the UK, so the location can come down to a) where the talent is, and b) is it more cost-effective outside of London. c) UK-wide coverage a tax team, etc.
Senior Manager 
  • Leadership roles are proving poignant, as the 6 roles advertised this quarter are a far cry from the 0 roles advertised in Q1. What should be noted, is that these positions aren’t easily filled through advertisements (and are rarely ever advertised)! I’d go as far as to suggest that you could double, or even triple the amount of these positions when considering the roles that are through recruiters only.
  • Yet again the cream of the crop in terms of advertisement frequency. Any  Assistant Managers could attest to this, but generally, these candidates are the most sought after (to step up in grade) within both industry & practice. 8 (63.6%) roles in the BENELUX region and 7 (27.8%) in the UK. Amsterdam has been most prevalent for these roles, supporting the evidence that the Netherlands is one of Europe’s biggest VAT hubs.
Assistant Manager
  • A recurring trend is a demand for Assistant Managers. Through conversations with FS & Insurance leaders, it’s mainly the larger institutions that recruit for these roles. These are FTSE 250 / Fortune 500 companies that have extensive tax teams, with several levels of seniority. This is also where we see the majority of activity in the insurance market, with employers looking to bring their compliance requirements in-house. Generally, this would be a VAT / IPT position.
Senior Analyst 
  • The crux of the common compliance team. The sort of role that requires extensive technical knowledge, often or not, with mentoring & training responsibilities. An important role for a tax leader who wants a new starter to hit the ground running.  There’s been a slight decrease from the previous quarter, as the focus has been on the more senior roles.
  • Perhaps the most prevalent level for anyone looking to start a career in VAT. Many of the Major UK banks are regularly recruiting for these sorts of positions, with some advertising all year round. This is also the perfect level for anyone looking to make a sidestep in their career from a more general finance role to a more specialised role. 11.1% & 9.1% of the two markets respectively.

A truly mixed array of vacancies across the UK & Ireland. Predictably, London has the largest concentration of vacancies. However, there’s been substantial growth in Edinburgh, Manchester, and the Regions.

Junior positions tip the scale within the BENELUX region. Amsterdam & Luxembourg City held the majority of roles.

To Conclude

What a contrast to Q1 results. Almost doubling the figures, it’s clear that companies are seeing the benefits of bringing indirect tax obligations in-house, cutting out the high-cost middleman expenses of external service providers. What should be noted is that, although there’s been a sharp rise in senior-level positions, some of these teams will likely be very small. I’ve seen tax teams grow from a literal figure of 1 to double-digits. On a company-by-company basis, the hire of a Senior Tax professional could be based on wider plans to establish a substantial tax team.

With the holiday season, there’s a possibility that some of these recent roles with roll over to the next quarter. In recruitment, as well as many other aspects of business, time is an impactful hindrance (but a necessary one)!

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