Q You have written an interesting article on the relative merits of working in the Regions rather than London (http://tinyurl.com/ctrarticle). Do you think that UK tax professionals are becoming less London-centric?
Certainly a lot of the movement I see comes from the former ‘London-centric’ individuals who are in fact, looking to relocate out of London. In most part due to losing that desire to stay in the city with all the added stresses that inflicts. I also think a lot of regional firms have become a lot more ambitious and the work on offer can be as good as the work you can find in larger cities like London. The movement away from city centres by big business has also helped this momentum.
Q. In terms of Creative Tax Recruitment, what percentage of your fee income derives from London, compared to the rest of the UK?
Around 30% of our fees come from outside of London and the larger cities.
Q When speaking to tax partners at regional firms what do they tell you about their growth expectations for 2016/2017?
A number of firms from Top 10 practices to regional independents have significant plans to expand their tax teams and invest in specialist areas. This is especially true of the larger ambitious practices that can see the potential on offer. A head of tax at a regional practice recently told me that the only thing that held them back from expanding was securing the right talent. I would say the demand for talent in certain parts of the South East and South West can be a match for the kind of demand we are seeing in London.
Q Most adverts for practice jobs in the UK do not make any mention of relocation assistance. Is this because it is rarely on offer or simply that Firms prefer to discuss this on a case-by-case basis?
The smaller firms tend to deal with this on a case-by-case basis. Once a firm meets with a potential employee the conversation of relocation packages/travel expenses/flexible hours etc. occurs. In the given market, it would certainly surprise me if a firm turned around and had no such benefits or even openness to consider them for senior staff or hard to source skills. A number of the larger firms do have something in place for senior staff which can be quite generous, although this is still done on a case by case basis.
Q. I believe that you personally focus on the Home Counties, South East and South West markets. Does Creative Tax Recruitment operate nationally?
Yes, I focus on all areas outside of London and the larger cities. In detail, I cover: Cardiff, Bristol, Bath, Somerset, Devon, Swindon, Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, West and East Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Essex, Cambridge, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. My colleagues here at Creative Tax Recruitment focus on London and the other larger cities: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh.
Q Have you done any analysis of cost of living vs average salary for tax professionals around the UK? It would be interesting to know which cities or towns offer candidates the best buying power. I would guess that the North East, Lancashire and East Midlands would score highly in this sort of league table.
Watch this space – I am currently working on a ‘relocation e-book’ that will cover precisely that analysis. Including house prices, transport prices, schooling costs, attractions in areas and salaries at a range of levels.
Q. I left London and moved North 15 years ago. It was a good decision but I would now never be able to return to London because the housing prices have increased exponentially. Do you think that tax professionals who leave London are buying a one-way ticket?
The cost of living and in particular the house prices in London, in comparison to other parts of the country have certainly widened considerably in the last 10-15 years. This has presented a challenge for people who want to relocate from the North to London or even the South.
Q. Although one would expect regional differences in the average salary for tax seniors, tax managers and senior tax managers, does the same hold true for tax partners or does it become a level playing field at this level?
The rules for partners are completely different. At this level it comes down to the profitability of the firm and most importantly what the individual partner can bring to the table. We certainly deal with partners outside of London whose earnings are comparable to partners in large cities. We have a number of remits in the South, South West and Midlands with firms that are highly competitive in what they can offer. London still tends to offer more options for niche tax partners (indirect tax etc) however we are beginning to see a number of regional firms develop specialist areas, which could lead to more options.
Recent placements made by Lucy:
Tax partner, Suffolk.
Mixed tax senior manager, Norfolk.
VAT senior manager, Kent.
Private client tax senior manager, Suffolk.
Private client tax manager, Kent.
Private client tax manager, Hampshire.
Private client tax manager, Suffolk.
Private client tax manager, Cambridge.
Tax manager, Reading.
Corporate tax supervisor, Surrey.
Lucy Greenwood is a specialist tax recruiter at Creative Tax Recruitment. You can contact her at email@example.com