• 26 September 2019
  • Tax

Q3 2019: Market Insights for 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 to the in-house market from adverts posted directly from employers.*

What happened in Q3?

Q2 presented a strong and stable job market and this has been bolstered by an increase in activity in Q3! With a candidate market that’s already narrow, any indirect tax professional exploring opportunities will be pleased to know that as Table 1 indicates, there have been 54 vacancies publicly advertised across the financial services and insurance industry (some roles have mixed indirect & direct tax responsibilities). Spanning the UK, BENELUX, and DACH regions, London still takes gold for the busiest hub for new indirect tax hires. 

Comparatively, this quarter’s job market eclipses last quarter’s 39 reported roles. There’s been a hive of activity throughout the summer which counters the typical annual dip from ‘holiday season’. To be expected, what with the season over - and dare we say it -  Christmas is looming, which means that such a surge in activity should be taken advantage of. Why wouldn't you want to beat the masses that flood the January market?

Table 1: New Financial Services & Insurance Jobs (In-house)

Considering in Q1 there were only 21 vacancies combined over the UK & BENELUX market, the fact that there’s been 30 in the UK alone, speaks for itself. 

However, what’s not changed is the strong demand for Manager level candidates. A key contributor could well be that many professionals will be leaving one Manager position, for another. It’s resulted in a competitive market across the board for employers seeking these sorts of candidates. 

Here are the trends across the grades:

  • Leadership grades - With no re-advertised positions in this quarter and 4 new UK based roles overall (13.3%), the numbers may not seem like anything to get excited about but - in comparison to our reports on Commerce & Industry - there could be worse times to be a job seeker at this level! A slight decrease in the overall percentage of advertised roles when compared with Q2 (approx. 4%) can be reported but this shouldn’t cause concern. These roles were all in the UK with the exception of one position in the Netherlands.
  • Senior Manager - Across the financial services and insurance sectors, this level of position varies. For instance, in the world of banking, there are numerous Senior Managers, whereas in the insurance sector, when it can be deemed as a luxury to have an in-house tax team, the title ‘senior manager’ is far less common. (Having said that, the SM grade has often been used by businesses for a transition into Director level positions) This could well be the reason there were only 2 roles in the UK (6.7%), and 1 in the BENELUX region (4.2%).
  • Manager - Stealing the limelight yet again, there have been 13 roles (43.3%) in the UK and 10 roles (41.7%) across the BENELUX & DACH region respectively. It’s not particularly a surprise, as businesses look to capitalise on candidates that have great experience but haven’t got to the stage of becoming too expensive. 
  • Assistant Manager - Generally, it's hard to distinguish what position in an in-house role constitutes ‘Assistant Manager’ (mainly due to differing job titles across the sector) but, if we use the Big 4 grading / experience structure as our guide here, the AM grade accounted for 16.7% (5 roles) of the UK market, and only 4.2% (1 role) of the BENELUX & DACH market. Like last quarter, it’s been the larger institutions that demand these candidates.
  • Senior Analyst - Just below the demand for managers is the demand for senior analysts; great news for anyone who’s started their tax career. The higher turnover rate of staff at this level is likely to be one catalyst but, in general across the tax industry, in-house teams appear to be on a mission to bolster their resources at the junior level. Senior analyst positions made of 16.7% of the UK market, and 25% of the combined BENELUX & DACH market. 
  • Analyst - The core values of these roles are predominantly compliance and data based. With this in mind, it’s not uncommon to see more generalist finance professionals fill these roles. Of course, an analyst can constitute many levels, for example, we’ve placed analyst’s in roles that pay £55K, whereas many entry-level positions would pay half of this. The BENELUX & DACH regions showed strong growth at this level, with a share of 20.8% of the overall market. The key areas for recruitment have been Amsterdam and Luxembourg City. The UK market was slow with only 3.3%.

Figure 2

UK & Ireland: FS Indirect Tax vacancies (in-house)

To be expected, London holds over 90% of the positions advertised. However, there’s been some good activity at the senior level in the regions surrounding London - good news for professionals looking to avoid the daily rat-race of the capital!

Figure 3

BENELUX & DACH: FS Indirect Tax vacancies (in-house)

Junior to mid-level positions makes up the bulk of roles in the BENELUX & DACH regions. With a candidate pool that spans across Europe, these positions aren’t likely to be there for long. Key cities for the bulk of these roles have been in Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Luxembourg City, and a few in Antwerp & the Hague respectively.  

Conclusion

The growth in vacancy frequency has set the stage for quarter 4 and although we’re unlikely to see an increase on the 53 positions from this quarter, these roles won’t be filled instantly. A key observation from a recruitment perspective is the lack of candidates in comparison to the number of roles. Employers will be looking to fill / back-fill these positions before the inevitable festive slow-down that we’ll see in Q4.

The rise in positions within the BENELUX & DACH regions is a welcomed sight and, when you include the number of positions that are likely not advertised, we’d be confident to say that we’re looking at double the activity when comparing the previous quarter. 

I've managed to not mention Brexit up until this point, but it’s practically inevitable. With a supposed 5 weeks until the date in question, it’s hard to predict where many of these positions will be based. With many businesses investing heavily in Brexit preparation, it’s likely that if position-location was at risk, these roles may well have already been relocated. 

Ultimately, it’s a great time to be a tax professional and, although you’d expect to read this from a recruiter, looking now will give you much more choice than when there’s the standard rush come January.

Please also read our Indirect Tax and Customs & Trade Compliance Insights.

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*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.

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

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