People Services: A Period of Flux

People Services: A Period of Flux

Contributed by Jessica Wilson on 03 February 2017

2016 was nothing if not a year of change. It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that the People Services & Human Capital market has not been immune to a real sense of flux.

In 2016, technology was often at the forefront of any discussion; Audit rotation seemingly found its momentum (and is set to impact the Market Share that the Big 4 firms have in relation to each other via the RFP process); and the structural make up of both Advisory and In-house teams were looked at in great depth.


The spring and early summer saw a predictable slow down across the Advisory and In-house markets; employer sentiment adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach to hiring around Brexit. This slowdown was most pronounced within the majority of the large accountancy firms and within the Global Mobility Services/ Short Term Business Visitor (STBV) space.

Advisory Workforce Reallocation/ Technology:

Whilst hiring levels across the Advisory space have now returned to a level of buoyancy, the type of role being recruited and they type of skillset sought has changed. The commoditization of core tax compliance services (within and outside of the RFP process) and investment being made by HMRC through ‘Making Tax Digital’ has made like-for-like hiring within core expatriate tax compliance and global coordination a rare thing. Larger Advisory businesses are looking to combat the downward revenue pressures by offering a wider ‘suite’ of services and by investing in areas such as transformation, data and analytics, Executive
Compensation, Equity reward and STBV & Reward software.

Simultaneously, clients are looking at the nature of their employee workforce – especially when it comes to their physical location. Advances in technology, paired with a change in mindset from some employers, has meant that home or flexible working initiatives are increasingly common. As such, the geographical location of an employee is of diminishing importance when it comes to hiring top talent.

Whilst like-for-like Expatriate Tax hiring within the larger Advisory firms remains relatively quiet (within larger client FTSE and FS orientated account teams) the volume of work within their ‘middle market’ or smaller population focussed teams remains strong across all core areas of Human Capital (Expatriate Tax, Employment Tax and Reward). Similarly, within the smaller Advisory firms there is a continued focus on expanding functionality within the Human Capital space. 

In-house Reallocation / Trends:

Outside of the Big 4 Advisory firms (and a 3 month ‘lul’ around the referendum aside) the Industry Market has...