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Demand for UK Tax Accountants Highest in Two Years

Morgan McKinley and Vacancysoft review the increased search for tax accountants.

July 2021

  • Firms sought 293 tax accountants in May 2021 — 11.5% more than (record) Jan 2019
  • London PP labour market loses momentum; transfer pricing specialists surge
  • PWC, BDO with more annual vacancies by Q2 2021 compared to whole of 2020

Hiring for tax accountants across firms in England and Wales (E&W) has reached record levels with some large firms already posting year-on-year rises in recruitment just five months into 2021.

According to new labour market data from Morgan McKinley and Vacancysoft, there were 293 professional vacancies for tax accountants in May 2021, which is 11.5% more than the previous monthly record in January 2019.

The 706 total senior vacancies published by firms in Q1 2021 also represents a two-year quarterly high — and a 6.5% rise compared to Q1 2020. This follows a year where total tax accountant vacancies in 2020 fell by 39.4% year-on-year.

Kathryn Swan, UK Lead for Professional Services, Morgan McKinley, says:

“The tax recruitment market is recovering as the UK emerges from the pandemic and organisations review hiring plans and make critical appointments. This recovery comes from accountancy firms with many larger firms hiring in key areas such as VAT, international tax and transfer pricing.

“The tax ramifications around Brexit, VAT and furlough impacted the labour market and meant that as 2020 ended, the number of vacancies gradually increased. Demand for experienced tax talent now is fierce and although salaries have been static over the last few months, they will likely rise over the coming year.”

London public practice labour market loses momentum

Although public practice hiring for tax accountants is at a two-year high across E&W, London has been slower to recover, with other regions chipping away at the capital’s dominant labour market share.

London lost 7.6 percentage points from its average 2020 share of the public practice tax accountant hiring market while the North West (+2.1 pp) and the North East (+1.9% pp) recorded the largest increases. Across in-house recruitment, London maintained its share of the market (+0.9 pp), while the South West grew its by 4.1 percentage points.

General tax specialists most wanted; transfer pricing expert vacancies surge

Just over half (50.3%) of all E&W vacancies are for general tax specialists. With hiring by May already at 81% of last year’s levels, recruitment for these experts this year is set to comfortably surpass the 758 vacancies published in 2020.

All but one tax accountant sub-specialisation experienced a year-on-year fall in recruitment during the first year of the pandemic. Vacancies for transfer pricing experts rose by 45.8% year-on-year across large firms in 2020. In the first five months of 2021, hiring for these specialists rose further and is already 7.1% higher than last year — the only sub-specialism to surpass its 2020 total.

PWC and BDO in fastest recovery;

Deloitte props up bottom After year-on-year drops in hiring for tax accountants at PWC and BDO in 2020, both firms have made strong starts to 2021. Vacancies at PWC are already +55.2% year-on-year with seven months still to run.

Hiring at BDO, meanwhile, is at +44% year-on-year and looks set to surpass its pre-pandemic 2019 recruitment levels. Deloitte finds itself bottom of the table of tax accountant hiring, with only 15 vacancies so far in 2021 compared to 230 at EY.

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For more information, contact Rob Szmigielski on rob.szmigielski@vacancysoft.com, 0207 193 6850.

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