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Making the move: Transitioning to an in-house tax role

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Making the move: Transitioning to an in-house tax role. An interview with Ellen Cormack, head of direct investments tax at Legal & General

Ellen began her career as a tax professional at Deloitte where she was able to train, develop and become fully qualified. She joined the financial services tax team as an associate and was promoted to manager before leaving. She joined EY and continued to sharpen her technical and soft skillset, before deciding to make the move in-house.

After 18 months, Ellen moved to Legal & General where she joined as a UK tax manager. Over the last 5 years, she has been able to build an impressive team and has been promoted to head of direct investments tax where she has become a key leader within the tax team.

 1. You made your first move in-house to L&G back in 2015 – how did you find the transition?

I was very lucky when I moved because I had previously worked with my manager and another senior manager within the team! This meant I already knew a bit about the team, the role, and was confident it was a good fit for me. I started out in a pure advisory role which meant my day-to-day job also felt very familiar. The main adjustment I had to make was getting used to the idea of being the specialist in the room and regularly being asked questions on the spot, but you get used to it very quickly.

2. What do you like most about working for L&G?

I like working somewhere that has a genuine social purpose and a really clear understanding of how we are using our resources in a socially responsible way. The added bonus is that it means we do a huge variety of things in addition to our financial services products.

I have seen so many exciting regenerations, housing and clean energy initiatives, as well as a real commitment to a long-term sustainable and socially responsible strategy. From regenerating city centres in Cardiff and Newcastle, developing affordable housing in Croydon and modular housing in Bristol, to investing into offshore wind farms and other green energy infrastructures. It’s all very different, but all fits together as part of a really clear and exciting strategy.

3. What is the culture like at L&G and how does it differ from working in practice?

In a lot of ways, I have found it is very similar to working in practice. There is the same focus on customers (although typically our internal customers rather than external), the same focus on personal development and the same very high standards to which everyone is held. I think the main difference is that you really get the opportunity to see the business operating and become a lot more embedded in the commercial aspects rather than just the tax technical.

4. What advice would you give to anyone considering a move in-house?

Try speaking to people doing a similar role in-house to make sure you understand what the job you are applying for actually involves on a day-to-day basis, and how it differs from practice. Think carefully about whether you want to do that, and how comfortable you are moving away from the very linear progression path you typically see in practice.

When you move in-house your development and future are much more in your own hands, and you need to be comfortable taking responsibility for moulding that, and really getting under the skin of what the company does and how you can bring your skills to contribute and drive your progression.


The above is an excerpt from our interview with Ellen Cormack, head of direct investments tax at Legal & General. You can download the full report using the form on this page.

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