How the Tax market has adapted during the COVID-19 crisis

By Andrew Vinell

By Andrew Vinell

Using a laptop

During these challenging times it has been great to see that employers and candidates alike have displayed high levels of flexibility and resilience, as meetings and interviews have moved further into virtual territory. This has really allowed recruitment to continue on a strong level during this crisis. As a result of this, we at AVTR feel very fortunate to say that we have remained busy with many of our clients, as well as with some new firms

The continued demand for tax professionals is certainly good news as far as tax recruitment companies are concerned. It is a testament to the fact that as long as there is an economy, there will always be a need for accountants. Accountancy has often been described as a “recession-proof” career. Businesses will always need taxation and financial advice – especially during crisis and unprecedented times.

In general, many companies are continuing by simply swapping from in-person recruiting to web-based. This means that many firms are still actively recruiting and will continue to do so over the next few months.

There is clearly as great a need as ever for tax professionals during this time. Anjana Haines of the International Tax Review, mentioned that international governments are realizing that companies, regardless of size, will need support throughout this period. This translates to more work for tax firms as businesses seek help in dealing with the tax implications of the crisis.

Naturally, lockdown and social distancing measures have had some effect on the tax recruitment market. When Boris Johnson first announced the initial lockdown measures on the 23rd of March 2020, almost all companies and firms had no choice but to slow down and cease many normal procedures for a little while, if not the foreseeable future.

Despite this difficult situation, it’s been amazing to see how humanity and businesses have pulled together to adapt. The way the tax industry has stepped up to the challenge is a shining example.

Jon Scriven, Director of Tax Markets at LexisNexis, introduced this year’s virtual Tolley Taxation Awards by stating that tax advisors have been working long and hard to ensure their clients get the best possible advice on the tax consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak.

He explained how the industry has had to adapt to an entirely new set of rules that came into law almost overnight. Advisors have had to work harder than ever, with many facing the prospect of not getting paid for months, if at all. He congratulated all advisors for facing reality with courage and providing excellent customer service – something he believes will result in an enhanced reputation of the tax profession within society at large.

Since lockdown began, the performance of the tax profession has been admirable. Senior partners of many companies have forgone their incentives in order to save jobs during this difficult time. This is a stark contrast to what happened in the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/8, when many employees were laid off in favour of more senior members maintaining their larger packages. This really shows that employee experience and corporate social responsibility have become a much higher priority for many firms.

As so many people are currently working from home, many major companies have put great care and thought into looking after employees’ mental health, creating resources, including podcasts and articles, to share knowledge and to assist other companies with building strategies for coping with the crisis. Some companies have even helped their clients set up their own COVID-19 responses. Others have tailored working hours to help parents with children at home; so many firms are doing what they can to aid their employees during this time.

It’s very clear to see that the world has changed. Of course, there are many negative impacts to these changes, and the loss of safety, comfort, and indeed lives has been nothing short of tragic. What we can be positive about though, is that there is clear evidence to suggest that people are adapting and learning to survive in different ways.

Already we’ve seen rapid and successful changes in the way the tax market operates, and we feel hopeful that this attitude and resilience will continue, not only in the tax industry, but in all areas of life, so that we may all work towards reaching a happier and more secure future together.

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