GLOBAL TREND REPORT TAX 2015 OUTLOOK

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1 GLOBAL TREND REPORT TAX OUTLOOK

2 GLOBAL DEMAND FOR CORPORATE TAX COMPLIANCE AND INTERNATIONAL TAX EXPERTS In line with our commitment to keep professionals working in the Tax discipline up to date with employment and recruitment trends, in the second half of 2014 Morgan McKinley conducted an international survey of its consultants in five regions. In most of these we have seen strong demand, the exceptions being Singapore, where many reporting and compliance functions are being offshored, and Hong Kong, where we are seeing some consolidation. There is strong demand in Hong Kong for candidates with strategic, managerial and communication skills In the UAE there is demand for international tax experts, especially those with Arabic and French language skills QUICK LINKS HONG KONG... 2 IRELAND... 3 SINGAPORE... 5 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES... 6 UNITED KINGDOM...8 The Irish market is buoyant, especially in VAT and corporate tax, but hiring processes can be lengthy The market is very buoyant in the UK, with strong demand from both in-house and in-practice tax functions Willingness to travel can be a decisive factor in Singapore 1

3 Hiring processes can be lengthy. HONG KONG CONSOLIDATION OF FUNCTIONS DAMPENING DEMAND We witnessed no discernible changes to the Tax discipline recruitment market in Hong Kong in the second half of Corporate tax and corporate tax compliance are the main drivers of any growth in employment in this discipline, with most recruitment focused on in-house senior positions, but we have seen some further consolidation and globalisation of functions as part of reorganisations. Consequently over the next year we expect potential candidates who are currently in secure roles to prefer to sit tight and await further developments. For the time being most candidates will be expecting end of year bonuses followed by discretionary bonuses at Chinese New Year, and are therefore not actively looking at the market, says Jacky Cheung, Manager at Morgan McKinley Hong Kong. Our outlook for 2015 remains neutral. Candidates who are most in demand are those who exhibit strategic, managerial and communication skills. SALARIES & BENEFITS Annual salary increments are currently running at around 3-5%. 2

4 Firms will often wait for the best candidate rather than compromise, even when there is an urgent need. IRELAND INTERNATIONAL TAX A HOT TOPIC VAT and corporate tax compliance have been the main drivers of growth in an improving employment market in Ireland, where economic confidence was strong in the second half of 2014 and recruitment budgets increasing. Although there is a shortage of candidates in some areas and both SMEs and corporates are looking to recruit as a matter of urgency, they prefer to wait for the right candidate rather than compromise on the job specification. Consequently the hiring process can remain lengthy and decisions take time, says Kate Flanagan, Tax and Legal Recruitment Specialist at Morgan McKinley. The most in-demand positions within the corporates are for newly qualified staff, whereas demand within tax practices is focused at the more senior level (tax manager, tax senior manager and tax director). Employers are looking for candidates with ACA/CA or CTA and compliance qualifications, and at the senior end, for those who can demonstrate general strategic and communications skills. In addition to VAT and corporate tax compliance, international tax is a growth area. International tax will continue to be a very important topic in 2014 with the moves to harmonise tax regimes across Europe. I would advise people in practice and industry to try and get as much exposure to international tax as possible as this will certainly help to develop your career, says Flanagan. The professional bodies in Ireland facilitate excellent training in this area, so in the absence of opportunities to get immediate practical experience, it is well worth enrolling on a course, she adds. Knowledge and experience of ERP systems is also a strong positive asset on a tax professional s CV. In-house tax teams are growing and companies that don t yet have in-house experts are thinking of recruiting a tax specialist to reduce the reliance and costs of external advisors. Meanwhile practices are becoming increasingly busy with compliance and consultancy projects so the overall prospects for 2015 look positive, concludes Flanagan. 3

5 SALARIES & BENEFITS Salaries will increase but only modestly in most cases, in the 2-5% range. Bonuses will remain similar to 2013, while some companies may reintroduce benefits such as health insurance to incentivise employers to stay. 4

6 To succeed in tax planning and advisory you need excellent communication skills. SINGAPORE DEMAND FOR JUNIOR-LEVEL TRANSFER PRICING AND INDIRECT TAX SPECIALISTS Some Singapore organisations are currently offshoring tax functions and roles to Malaysia. This is rather surprising and has not been the case for many years, as many companies locate to Singapore precisely because of the savings that the low rate of tax provides, comments Yanni Ma at, Manager, Accounting & Finance and Human Resources Recruitment (Commerce & Industry) at our Singapore office. This new situation makes it rather difficult to gauge the outlook for 2015, especially given the current economic uncertainty, she adds. Junior-level transfer pricing and indirect tax specialists are currently most in demand, but we expect to see greater emphasis on tax accountancy and tax analyst roles in future. To secure a job in the Tax discipline in Singapore, relevant experience in APAC is a must and employers normally expect a relevant qualification (CTA, CIOT/ADIT or a diploma in tax compliance). However, in Singapore willingness to travel and relocate is often the deciding factor, says Ma at. The challenge for hiring organisations is that there are few tax professionals who are willing to do the hands-on reporting and compliance work. Many candidates in Singapore would prefer to get involved in tax planning and advisory, but to succeed in these areas you need excellent communication and people skills, says Ma at. SALARIES & BENEFITS Salaries will remain flat. 5

7 Local talent with international exposure is in short supply. UNITED ARAB EMIRATES DEMAND INCREASING FOR TAX SPECIALISTS WITH ARABIC AND FRENCH Tax is a relatively small market in the United Arab Emirates. The Middle East is a largely tax-free region. Therefore, many companies have a Middle East regional office in the UAE with a small tax team looking after the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and the Indian subcontinent, explains Omer Zakaria, Recruitment Consultant, Accountancy and Finance, Middle East and North Africa. Everybody knows everybody in this area so networking is essential if you want to get ahead. The best opportunities are in sectors where the tax function is stable (such as oil and gas). Most of the jobs on offer are regional, possibly covering between four and ten MENA countries, so fluency in a second language other than English is highly desirable (Arabic is the most sought-after language, followed by French). Most employers will send their tax specialists to get hands-on experience in various countries in the region, so willingness to travel is important, but in return, employees get excellent international exposure. At the moment the employment market is improving, mostly as a result of the economic upswing, with further demand created by organisational change, as many UAE-based countries reach critical mass and expand into new regions, and thus face new compliance issues and other globalisation challenges impacting their tax functions. Transfer pricing and corporate tax planning are the main growth areas, and there are opportunities for candidates from overseas. Companies that are recruiting are mainly looking for candidates with international tax experience, and the talent available in the region is rather limited in that respect, says Zakaria. Mainland Europe and Africa are the main sources of suitable candidates who have experience of managing tax profiles in small countries and have Arabic and French. The demand is also focused at senior level. Most companies will employ a single senior tax professional, who will rely on additional support from tax consultants in practice, says Zakaria. 6

8 SALARIES & BENEFITS We expect salaries to increase, with considerable variations by industry, oil and gas paying the highest. 5-10% generally. 7

9 Tax is currently a secure place to be. UNITED KINGDOM STRONG DEMAND BOTH IN-HOUSE AND IN-PRACTICE In the United Kingdom there is strong demand for replacement and new headcount, particularly within financial services, both in-house and in-practice. Recruitment budgets are increasing and people with knowledge of tax software or with US Enrolled Status are particularly welcome. We have been surprised at how aggressively some companies attempt to buy back talent when they hand their notice in, says Ian Palmer, Associate Director at Morgan McKinley. The larger practices are generally keen to grow their tax function to expand market share, recruiting senior level managers who can then build a team. There is inadequate local supply so organisations are looking to fill some roles, where experience is internationally transferable, from overseas: transfer pricing, VAT and international corporate tax, for example. Where language is a key requirement, companies will take on foreign nationals and then bring them up to speed on UK legislation. The whole year has been strong for the Tax discipline, as it can have a massive impact on a company s profitability, and I see no reason for it to slow down in 2015, except potentially over the Christmas period, says Palmer. My advice to potential candidates is to get qualified through the ACA and CTA examination bodies and to keep abreast of any changes in legislation, as these can create new opportunities, he adds. Corporate tax compliance, international tax and human capital taxation are the big growth areas. Tax is a secure place to be as companies need good advice whether they are doing well or badly, while practices are looking for more fee-earners, concludes Palmer. SALARIES & BENEFITS Unless there is a drastic change in the UK s economic fortunes, salaries are likely to increase steadily. 8

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