For Finance Leaders

As the finance leader, overseeing a tax department means that you are accountable for increasing shareholder value and reducing tax-specific risk with respect to material weaknesses or significant deficiencies. And with these critical responsibilities resting squarely on the shoulders of your head of tax, only the best talent will do.

When faced with filling a critical tax leadership role, finding an ideal candidate can be exceptionally challenging. However, it doesn’t have to be. Although the high-demand, low-supply marketplace is daunting, identifying and overcoming three common assumptions can help world-class finance executives accelerate the speed and ease with which they attract, engage and hire an exceptional tax leader. 

Assumption One
"There’s No Harm in Trying To Fill the Role Ourselves."

When hiring for a critical tax leadership role, many financial leaders fall prey to the D.I.Y. mentality, relying on internal HR efforts, along with word-of-mouth referrals from loyal advisors.

There are several reasons this approach is likely to backfire. 

When you post a high-level position on your own, your company inadvertently sends the wrong message, thereby creating an immediate employer-branding problem. While unintentional, taking the D.I.Y. approach with integral tax leadership roles implies that you might not value the tax function or that corporate leadership does not consider the head of tax to be a critical position.
Increasingly, internal HR departments are tasked with expanding levels of responsibility with respect to the breadth they’re asked to handle, as well as the urgency levels attached to those assignments. Correspondingly, most internal recruitment teams are overloaded, adding to the challenges of attracting top-level tax professionals for your critical opportunity.

They say that timing is everything, and nowhere is that more true than in tax. Not only is there a finite pool of high-caliber tax executives, but the hiring process is typically lengthy, especially without the help of a third-party firm. Moreover, an unsuccessful search could waste months. Factor in the predictable, abbreviated hiring window during which 65 to 70% of key positions are filled, and it’s a significant risk to take.

Tax is a specialty function, and the elite candidates are risk-averse, preferring to keep a low profile and appraise the details of potential career opportunities before releasing their personal information. Presuming that high-caliber tax professionals will even notice, let alone respond to, your job posting without the involvement of a trusted, third-party search firm is a leap of faith, to say the least.

Most word-of-mouth referrals are laden with inherent bias and unspoken agendas, the nuances of which can be hard to untangle. Furthermore, even the most well-intentioned advisors typically lack objectivity. Thus, they tend to refer the most active candidates – those eagerly seeking new positions and littering the marketplace with resumes – over better “off the market” professionals. In addition, advisors are typically unequipped to vet and screen the applicants they endorse because that isn’t their forte. When you need tax advice, you go to your advisor. When you’re seeking tax staffing and recruiting guidance, you need a specialist in that area, like TaxSearch.

For over three decades, TaxSearch has been cultivating relationships with tax leaders by adding value throughout their careers. These profound connections, coupled with our outstanding reputation, have resulted in a unique, deep-rooted penetration in the tax industry. At the same time, we understand that there are times when a self-sourced candidate seems too good to overlook, and we encourage you to pursue those opportunities first. Moreover, we are willing to incorporate any potential applicants that have been sent your way into our search process as part of a joint effort to find the ideal tax professional for your critical position. 

Our proven process eliminates bias, thereby removing any sense of implied reciprocity or the potential sandbagging of viable applicants. Our motivations are simple, to quickly identify and engage the best possible candidate for your critical tax leadership role.

Assumption Two
"General Retainer Firms Already Know Us and Offer More."

Most companies are already engaged with a general retainer firm, and many financial leaders assume that those firms will be more effective in identifying candidates for critical tax leadership roles because they:

  1. Have worked with the company previously 
  2. Know the organization and culture. 
  3. Have a global outreach.

But while these advantages are valid, they’re also short-lived.

Although a general retainer firm may have a head start with respect to past experience and related insight, catching up is the easy part. TaxSearch can quickly get up to speed on a company’s culture in order to understand their specific tax function needs. Moreover, we will collaborate with key players to ascertain KPIs and major operational metrics, as we seek to understand the corporate culture.

Similarly, general retainer firms possess an international network and associations all over the world, but many of those relationships have resulted in multiple “off limits” constraints. TaxSearch also has access to a worldwide pool of talented tax professionals, but we only work with a small, select group of corporate clients. These limited constraints, combined with our singular reputation, global reach and sole focus on tax, have culminated in an immense sourcing pool with no equal.

Assumption Three
“All Specialty Search Firms Are the Same.”

Once recognizing the need for a search firm specializing in tax, some financial leaders might conclude that all boutique firms are interchangeable. In fact, this assumption is as shortsighted as assuming all doctors, lawyers and tax professionals offer the same level of expertise.

Many firms claim to be corporate tax specialists, but none of them have the relationships or credibility in the market that TaxSearch does. Our unique connections with exceptional talent stems from our longstanding reputation for

  • Transparency
  • Integrity
  • Synergistic recruiting, taking all needs into account

Tax is one of the few areas that can function as a profit center, and a critical position that is unstaffed or poorly filled undermines opportunities to increase shareholder value through tax planning. While there are many firms to choose from, TaxSearch’s deep relationships and international reach provide unparalleled access to the top performers in the industry.

With over 100 years of combined experience and a 30-year track record of success, TaxSearch is also the largest executive search firm focused exclusively on tax. Our reputation is second to none and most notably, 98% of our clients were once TaxSearch candidates. When selecting a firm for their own recruitment efforts, their choice speaks for itself.

TaxSearch is not just a search firm, but part of the tax profession. We understand the needs and motivations of high caliber tax executives, and our unique consultative approach ensures that your requirements are in alignment with theirs. Our policy of transparency affords potential candidates the confidence to confidentially explore your opportunity to determine if it’s a good fit with their specific needs and wants. Then, we focus on identifying mutual goals and objectives -- as well as satisfying the relevant ‘circle of influence’ on both sides -- something other firms rarely take into consideration.

After establishing candidate interest and compatibility, we include the input and requirements of all critical influencers -- ranging from spouses, families and mentors, to company leaders, HR specialists and key tax team staff members -- to pinpoint potential issues. What’s more, we get everyone to start those conversations early, so there aren’t any unexpected revelations later. Our process eliminates as many surprises as possible, as early as possible.

While we limit the number of new clients we take on in order to continue to effectively recruit, we offer a free, no-obligation consultative search analysis meeting to determine that our goals are compatible. At TaxSearch, our goal is for mutual success, and we will only take on an open position where we’re 100% confident we will exceed your expectations.

You need top talent for critical tax roles; TaxSearch knows where to find it. Start here today.