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The tax and audit see-saw

It’s often said that recruitment firms are the barometer of the marketplace as political and economic uncertainty have an immediate effect on hiring levels and it’s clear that the market is tough, both in terms of roles released and decisions being made. 

So perhaps it’s strange that September was our best month of the year and just shy of our all time record with strong results across our divisions and regions. Or not so strange. Whilst some of our competition talk openly about reducing their UK headcount, our strategy is to continue investing in our core markets and making key hires into our business. Even more crucially, our consultants prove again and again that their motivation, market knowledge and passion for the job are second to none. 

Similarly, Professional Services performed strongly with audit hires driven primarily by strong levels of demand from mid-tier firms and the Big 4 being relatively quiet. The opposite is the case for tax, with Big 4 and Top 10 firms still hiring strongly. We’re also seeing increasing demand for specialists in tax automation and tech with firms keen to bolster their advisory offering as this area rapidly evolves.

Writing for the Accountancy Age, Martin Muirhead, senior partner at Kingston Smith. notes that “larger firms have been able to grow their tax income at a faster rate than their fees from audit and accounting, with seven of the top ten firms reporting more growth in tax than audit. This trend does not appear to be replicated across the rest of the 50+50, with less than a third of firms across the top 100 being able to report the same.” Martin goes on to point out that the HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ scheme is likely to see a rise in advisory fees but squeeze compliance as tax returns become automated.

One thing is certain as a turbulent 2016 draws to a close, the ever increasing complexity in regulation and compliance means that there is plenty to keep accountants occupied for some time to come. 
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