Tax and other certain matters

Guest Feature, Partner Content | Thu 9 Jan | Author – Business & Finance

Increasingly complex taxes sees increased demand for tax professionals, writes Sandra Berger-O’Brien FCCA.

As Benjamin Franklin once famously said, there were only two things certain in life–death and taxes.  

That is about all that I knew when I started to recruit for senior tax level appointments with Brightwater Executive.  Eager to make a dent in the tax recruitment universe, I thought the best way to learn is to dive into the subject head on by signing up for a course with the industry’s finest, the Irish Tax Institute. After all, how hard could tax possibly be?

The straight answer came after a few days.  A package arrived at reception – an event which always sparks joy.  But this time the box could not be lifted and needed two people to move…  Five trips later, I brought all the textbooks home and feel respect ever since and every time, just looking at them!

In 2019 we saw a strong market demand for senior tax professionals in both practice and industry roles. Teams in all tax categories are growing, reflecting the complexity of certain taxes and preparation.

Industry sectors

In industry sectors, we see an increased demand on senior direct tax roles in the FDI pharmaceutical and tech industry preparing for the OECD, US, EU and local changes in directives and legislations coming into effect.  The same companies are also building out on the indirect tax side with the looming discussion of digital service taxes and an increased complexity of VAT compliance.  One point to note on industry roles is that the job title does not necessarily reflect compensation or seniority of the role.  Particularly, tech companies tend to stay away from hierarchical job titles.  For example, a role advertised as tax senior manager can command a strong six figure base salary with competitive bonus and benefits. 

Increase in M&A

On the domestic side, an increase in M&A activity as well as international growth expansions are seeing companies moving their tax functions in-house.  Brexit and the increased demands on indirect tax such as VAT, tariffs and duties for exports also spurred a surge in niche expert advice and newly created inhouse roles.  We also see increased demands for senior candidates in the private clients and succession planning work.

With extended reporting and disclosure requirements in an ever more complex tax world, tax professionals are more at the forefront and early stage of transactions and corporate development planning. Companies are increasingly valuing the commercial astuteness and value add the technical knowledge and experience holds. 

Death and taxes are two certain things in life.  Both subjects benefit from focus on optimisation of the existing state of affairs, ideally prior to them happening to you or your organisation – so invest wisely in the best hire / advice you can afford.

About the author:

Sandra Berger-O’Brien is a Partner at Brightwater Executive, specialising in the senior management and board level appointments. Contact Sandra at