Q4 2018: Market Insights for Indirect Tax & Customs

Each quarter, our specialist Indirect Tax team monitors the number of vacancies released onto the job market directly by employers (Commerce & Industry) across Europe.

The data below provides a digestible snapshot of the in-house market from adverts posted directly from employers (we omit the number of confidential mandates that HJ are assigned or job adverts posted by other recruitment firms). It should also be noted that many vacancies go unadvertised due to confidential or highly sensitive searches.

What happened in Q4?

Traditionally, Q4 is a tale of two halves in the recruitment world. With September picking up the slack from the summer holiday season, we enter a busy October where recruitment and job postings are in full flow. However, this tends to nosedive as we approach Christmas, where recruitment is less prioritised and subsequently stored away until the New Year.

Indirect Tax

Q4 remained buoyant overall in commerce and industry across the UK & BENELUX region with 81 vacancies! Here’s a breakdown of where these vacancies were identified.

  • Leadership grades – representing just 2% and 0% of the UK & BENELUX market respectively, opportunities at a Director / Head of Indirect Tax level are few and far between. Much to the frustration of many candidates, this has followed suit for 2018.
  • Senior Manager – vacancies at this grade have increased from Q3 which is a positive sign for half of the senior pool of European tax professionals. However, these vacancies have largely been targeted towards Managers aspiring a step up rather than experienced Senior Managers making a sideways move.
  • Manager – Particularly in the UK, the market has centred around a demand to identify strong Manager level candidates, but the issue employers face is finding these profiles! These individuals are simply well looked after in C&I. Meanwhile, amongst the professional services-trained candidates, there seems to be a reluctance for first-time in-house moves. This is most likely due to the high volume of roles on the market and candidates being able to be selective on which ones to apply for.
  • Assistant Manager – within this grade, we include appointments at a Compliance Manager & Team Lead level. Remaining fairly equal across the UK & BENELUX, recruitment here had slowed at year-end with these responsibilities seemingly being absorbed at the Manager grades.
  • Analyst – at no surprise at all, across the Analyst levels, 43.4% (UK) and 60.6% (BENELUX) of new jobs were targeted at this level. This follows the trend for 2018, where businesses looked to bolster their in-house compliance function. This also reflects the increasing focus on identifying talent at the junior level, whilst hiring more cost-effectively.
Customs & Trade Compliance

With Customs & Trade Compliance being a focal point of Europe’s politico-economic narrative in 2018, it’s no surprise that businesses wish to bolster their in-house talent to coordinate them through the murky waters that lie ahead.

Across the EU, we counted a total of 78 in-house vacancies.

In summary:
  • Leadership grades – fractionally higher than our data for the indirect tax market, we saw more activity across the EU in trying to identify leaders in Customs. However, the market is still dry, particularly with Customs still being a siloed function in tax teams that received limited investment and attention from the broader finance realms. One expects the appetite to hire such profiles will only increase in 2019 as the UK brexits and we receive clarification on the EU Customs Union.
  • Senior Manager – Interestingly, Senior Manager recruitment in the UK is slightly up, which most likely reflects how businesses are thinking about strengthening this function ahead of Brexit. But still, as with Europe, recruitment at this level is limited.
  • Manager – Here is where the market was dominated, with a coverage of 62.2% of total vacancies. Looking ahead to Q1 and Q2 (2019), last quarter’s figures prove now is the time to explore the market if you’re currently working at the Assistant Manager or Manager grade. Plenty of choices is there – any takers?
  • Assistant Manager – Trade Compliance Officer roles were up in Q4, and the recruitment here is in line with the demand to identify good Manager prospects who can start bolstering the Customs function.
  • Analyst – Unlike previous quarters, recruitment at the Analyst level surged in Q4! In a department that’s traditionally siloed away, the increasing trend of bringing in junior support is reflective of how businesses are placing more importance on Customs & Trade Compliance. For candidates that have an interest in carving out a highly sought-after specialism, now is a great time to take advantage of these opportunities!

With annual talks about recruitment being slow in Q4 due to Christmas and year-end, the vacancies coming onto the market ultimately told a different story.

Of course, there are winners and losers here (notably the dry market for senior professionals) but ultimately Q4 rounded up a very healthy year for Indirect Tax recruitment.

Q1 (2019) looks to be a positive start to the New Year. If you’re interested in hearing more about the job market, please get in touch with our specialist Indirect Tax recruiters.

Alex Mann is a Director in the Tax Division at Harvey John.

Search our latest tax jobs here.

If you would like to see our company updates and industry insights, follow our LinkedIn page here.

Share this article: