Demand for UK tax accountants highest in over two years, PWC & BDO in fastest growth

Jun 3, 2021 | Finance, News, Tax

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[1] for tax accountants in May 2021, which is 11.5% more than the previous monthly record in January 2019[2].

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 & 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.

Top firms – tax accountant vacancies

#   2019 2020 2021* %Y/Y (20/19) %21*/20
1 EY 590 323 230 -45.25% 71.21%
2 BDO 81 50 72 -38.27% 144.00%
3 KPMG 308 116 71 -62.34% 61.21%
4 PWC 126 38 59 -69.84% 155.26%
5 Mazars 29 13 24 -55.17% 184.62%
10 Deloitte 56 17 15 -69.64% 88.24%

*Jan-May 2021

[1] In-house and public practice, excl. trainees, interns, apprentices

[2] 260 vacancies (see attached spreadsheet for detailed breakdowns)

  • The data for this article is taken from a Vacancysoft and Morgan McKinley report on tax accountants, available here.
  • Need labour market data to enhance a story or report? Contact Vacancysoft’s Communications team on +44 (0) 207 193 8990.

[Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash]

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