If you’re a newly qualified ACA, CTA or ATT, then we’d like to congratulate you on passing your exams! With the good news now secured, it’s time to consider the next stage of your career path with some expert career guidance.

You might be wondering ‘where do I go from here?’. If you are, then don’t worry – it’s a commonly asked question by a lot of newly qualified people.

The good news is that there really has never been a better time to be searching for your next exciting opportunity thanks to the ever-growing number of positions available within the tax market – thanks to significant market changes brought about by technology, COVID and Brexit amongst other things.

But whether it’s today, tomorrow or sometime in the coming weeks or months, at some point you’ll need to think seriously about your current role, developmental goals, long-term career aspirations and what you want your next position to be.

Whenever you decide to consider your next step, there are a number of questions that are worth answering first to make sure you follow the right path for you. This can include what type of firm you want to be a part of, knowing what employers desire from their candidates, and what the market looks like in the current climate.

Keep reading for our own career guidance and answers to these questions. Of course, if you need any further support, our team is on hand to provide bespoke advice and help you thoroughly prepare for what the future holds.

What does the tax market currently look like?

The tax market has remained incredibly stable throughout the pandemic. This can be attributed to emerging new positions and responsibilities created by structural and economic changes plus others such as the impact of audit rotation on competition and the need for governments to raise more taxes in the future.

The transaction market remains buoyant and the demand for people has outstripped supply, with a distinct shortage of emerging talent to take the market forward in specialist areas such as VAT, R&D tax, transaction tax and transfer pricing.

What are employers looking for?

Thanks to Harris Glubb’s in-depth understanding of the market and our strong partnerships with a wide range of businesses, we understand exactly what organisations are looking for in their candidates.

Certain characteristics stand out, including adaptability, the ability to communicate clearly, a strong commercial awareness and an ability to demonstrate clear understanding of tax issues. Employers are also keen to see an ability to use technology when delivering outcomes – so knowhow of tax technology and its correct application is a great skill to have on your CV.

How do I decide on my future career path?

We always recommend filtering your thinking and focusing on what you have enjoyed within your career so far. Is there a specific area of tax that appealed to you above all of the others? Is there a particular skill you would like to continue developing and does this fit within the changes that are taking place within the market? You also need to focus on what is important to you and your career prospects. Do you know where you want to be in five or ten years? Do you have an end goal in mind?

Our team can provide the advice and support you need to help you answer these questions and more, to make sure that you plan the path ahead and avoid any potential obstacles.

What options are open to me?

There’s a range of routes you can take, and the one you choose will only come from answering the questions in the previous sections. To aid your decision-making process as you look at your next move, post-qualification, here are the three main options.

Remain with an accounting firm –  Big 4 or mid-tier/independent

Big 4 firms dominate the tax profession with an estimated 4,000 tax specialists employed in each of the four firms. There are a wide range of benefits to working for a Big 4 firm, including:

  • Working within market and technically focused teams 
  • Hierarchical structures, offering clear progression opportunities 
  • Opportunities to work with household names as clients on cross-border tax issues
  • Exposure to challenging and technical tax work
  • Opportunities for secondments overseas and exposure to other specialist areas
  • Excellent in-house training and well resourced technical tax knowhow

Mid-tier and independent firms range from internationally-focused organisations such as Tier A firms, through to regional practices and single office businesses. The benefits of working for one of these companies include:

  • Working closely with directors and partners, providing the opportunity to learn from the best people within a specific tax area
  • Smaller teams, making it easier to make an impact and get yourself noticed
  • Roles offering exposure to a greater breadth of technical tax issues
  • More responsibility, with an encouragement to develop new business early on
  • Opportunity to work with business owners or finance teams to able to build closer client relationships and an expectation for you to be the ‘trusted adviser’
  • Fewer client conflicts, with audit rotation issues not applicable
  • Can have a more flexible approach to promotion than the Big 4

Move to a law firm

This market includes internationally-focused, large UK and US firms as well as regional firms and private client-focused practices. The benefits of working for a law firm include:

  • Higher salary than within in-house or accounting firms
  • Work is advisory led and rarely, if at all, will you have to do tax compliance
  • Increased focus on technical tax issues, and progression is not dependent on business development capabilities
  • Being strong technically throughout your career, even at partner level
  • Emphasis on building a reputation and relationships internally rather than in the external market

Move in-house to a FTSE 100 company, global multinational, or partnership

This is a very broad market and includes anything that is not client facing, encompassing FTSE 100 companies, global multinationals, PE houses, professional partnerships and large private corporations. The benefits of working for such businesses include:

  • Smaller teams, making you an integral part of the finance function 
  • Ability to play a key role in influencing the strategic goals of the business
  • Opportunity to develop a more detailed understanding of the business and how to tie tax into the commercial imperatives
  • A focus on technical tax throughout your career across both advisory issues and compliance
  • Chance to work with non-tax people on a day-to-day basis and explain complex tax issues in easier to understand terms
  • Excellent pay with the opportunity for high bonuses/share options

How do I access career guidance?

One thing is for sure, it’s a very exciting time to be qualifying thanks to a range of changes specific to the profession and the introduction of increased flexible working.

All of the market shifts that have or will take place in the future will benefit those who can spot new trends and adapt to change quickly. For you, now really is the time to consider your options and make the big decisions which will shape your future and give you the greatest career satisfaction long-term.

For open and honest advice on what your next step should be and where you could find a new exciting role, get in touch with the Harris Glubb team of experts.