Home Brexit Brexit planning provokes considerable professional services recruitment

Brexit planning provokes considerable professional services recruitment

by LLB Reporter
6th Feb 19 9:31 am

Global financial and professional services recruiter Morgan McKinley’s UK professional services salary guides reveal how Brexit has generally been positive for hiring, especially across the legal and tax professions. Public practice recruitment was also buoyant as growth plans in regional areas were implemented by the Big 4 and Top Ten firms, with most now open to their employees working across various locations.

Kathryn Swan, UK lead for accountancy practices said, “2018 was broadly a positive and successful year for the accountancy profession. Jobs registered supported this with a healthy split between replacement and expansion hires, as well as specialist roles within tax especially buoyant anticipating the impact of Brexit.

“Given the continued candidate scarcity, the job market for experienced fee earners is optimistic for the coming year, with anticipated recruitment across all service lines. In the main, salaries have shown modest increases across compliance teams, with pronounced exceptions within advisory and tax.

“The in-house tax market equally experienced significant growth in 2018. There was a notable increase in the number of project based roles as organisations prepared for Brexit, with some selecting interim support in these positions.

Ian Barker, UK director professional services said, “Emerging sectors like TMT were especially active in hiring, with high level appointments punctuating the year. The impact of making tax digital and the effect this will inevitably have on the market will become apparent into the coming years. A positive year within legal resulted in increased job opportunities by 33% within in-house and practice.”

Key highlights were:

Public Practice

  • Big 4 and Top Ten firms continued to hire into teams across the entire UK, building out growth plans in regional areas
  • Salaries remained relatively stagnant
  • Professionals with experience in cloud computing softwares were in demand: Xero, Quickbooks and Sage Business Cloud
  • Firms have had to adopt creative solutions to accommodate for the fluid working patterns of employees and to attract the full spectrum of talent
  • Relaxation of Home Office restrictions allowed the flow of international talent to the UK to increase towards the end of the year
  • More and more firms became location agnostic and encouraged employees to adopt flexible working


  • FinTech, IT and Ecommerce platforms increased their hiring of permanent tax professionals
  • Companies prepared for Brexit by carving out specific project roles, such as Head of Brexit Tax, within team infrastructure that were filled with interim professionals
  • Specialist taxes saw a surge in hiring activity
  • Demand for indirect tax roles reached an all time high and salaries increased as a result – attributed to Brexit preparations and adoption of technology within the profession
  • Private client tax was busy but it proved difficult for hiring managers to secure the right talent
  • Proven experience in Tax compliance, reporting, technology and advisory was desired to help bolster business offerings and deal with changes within the tax environment
  • The opportunity for progression is one of the most important factors when tax professionals look for a new job


  • Positive year for recruitment of both permanent and temporary legal professionals – in-house and within practice – Brexit resulted in increased hiring
  • Sustained desire for first time in-house hires as businesses looked to hire a lawyer, particularly within IT/Tech sector
  • The rise of ABS models and the Big 4 drive continued within law and specialist roles such as Data Protection/Privacy alongside a larger increased demand for Banking/Finance & TMT lawyers
  • Shortage of temporary lawyers – particularly within financial services and ISDA negotiators, funds and derivatives lawyers
  • Rise of accountancy firms and the Big 4 shaped the legal market
  • Specialist lawyers in niche areas, particularly at 6+ PQE, commanded a premium
  • Language skills have increased in demand
  • Professionals eager to move in-house for a better work-life balance – long hours are still norm of working in a top firm

Morgan McKinley’s 2019 UK Professional Services salary guides provide a review of 2018, encompassing the recruitment of Legal, Public Practice and Tax professionals. The guides highlight popular roles, skills and qualifications, as well as salary and contract figures.

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