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Scarcity of candidates driving optimistic jobs market

Brexit has been positive for hiring in the professional services sector, particularly in tax, says Kathryn Swan, UK lead for accountancy practices at Morgan McKinley.

Kathryn Swan

April 2019

2018 was broadly a positive and successful year for the accountancy profession. Jobs registered supported this with a healthy split between replacement and expansion hires, as well as specialist roles within tax especially buoyant anticipating the impact of Brexit.

Given the continued candidate scarcity, the jobs market for experienced fee earners is optimistic for the coming year, with anticipated recruitment across all service lines. In the main, salaries have shown modest increases across compliance teams, with pronounced exceptions within advisory and tax.

The in-house tax market equally experienced significant growth in 2018. There was a notable increase in the number of project-based roles as organisations prepared for Brexit, with some selecting interim support in these positions. Emerging sectors like TMT were especially active in hiring, with high level appointments punctuating the year. The impact of Making Tax Digital and the effect this will inevitably have on the market will become apparent into the coming years.

Highlights from Morgan McKinley’s 2019 salary guides include:

Public Practice

  • Big Four and Top Ten firms continued to hire into teams across the entire UK, building out growth plans in regional areas
  • Salaries remained relatively stagnant
  • Professionals with experience in cloud computing software were in demand
  • Firms have had to adopt creative solutions to accommodate for the fluid working patterns of employees and to attract the full spectrum of talent
  • Relaxation of Home Office restrictions allowed the flow of international talent to the UK to increase towards the end of the year
  • More and more firms became location agnostic and encouraged employees to adopt flexible working


  • Fintech, IT and e-commerce platforms increased their hiring of permanent tax professionals
  • Companies prepared for Brexit by carving out specific project roles, such as Head of Brexit Tax, within team infrastructure that were filled with interim professionals
  • Specialist taxes saw a surge in hiring activity
  • Demand for indirect tax roles reached an all-time high and salaries increased as a result - attributed to Brexit preparations and adoption of technology within the profession
  • Private client tax was busy, but it proved difficult for hiring managers to secure the right talent
  • Proven experience in tax compliance, reporting, technology and advisory was desired to help bolster business offerings and deal with changes within the tax environment
  • The opportunity for progression is one of the most important factors when tax professionals look for a new job

View the 2019 Morgan McKinley salary guides.

Kathryn Swan is UK Lead for Accountancy Practices at Morgan McKinley.

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