post icon Pure Insights Category

Progressive change in focus, note European Heads of Tax

Reputational Risk and Stakeholder Management are the most important issues for today’s Heads of Tax, and managing Effective Tax Rate (ETR) is a somewhat unimportant issue; this according to a recent survey of European Tax Directors.

On a 5 point scale, crucial to unimportant, respondents – largely made up of members of the European chapter of the Tax Executives Institute (TEI) – ranked Reputational Risk and Stakeholder Management at 80% crucial or very important. 18% marked ETR somewhat unimportant; a huge shift away from pre-recession priorities, where tax planning reigned.

It is a similar story regarding skills for Heads of Tax. Communication, Strategy and Leadership are ranked crucial, usurping Technical Expertise in order of importance. This is logical, as the increased board interaction demanded with Reputational Risk and Stakeholder Management requires the skillset to match.

This all paints a picture of a transformed, indeed transforming, tax landscape. Heads of Tax who have furthered their careers based on their technical expertise, commerciality, and ability to negotiate now find that these capabilities, whilst still important, are no longer sufficient to meet the full challenge of the role today.

Pure Search Managing Director Ewen Burns, who co-produced a report on the findings, comments “In this new tax environment it is imperative for Heads of Tax to keep abreast of change and equip their team accordingly, and for all tax professionals to stay informed about how the skillset demanded is evolving.”

Bo Iversen, lead EMEA Tax Management Committee, says ‘Pure presented the report at our European TEI meeting in Dublin. The session was very interactive and proved that tax transformation, and how it is affecting tax professional’s roles, is a contentious matter. This makes the report all the more relevant, compelling and valuable.’

A note on the report

The full report, ‘Insights from European Tax Leaders’, was co-produced by Pure Search and members body the Tax Executives Institute. It includes answers from 25% of the TEI’s European members and covers:
Key priorities for Heads of Tax, and how these might have changed in recent years;

Key skills needed to do the job, and how these might have changed;

The skills mix required in tax teams, including skills gaps; and

The resources available to Heads of Tax to meet their priorities, including budgets and external advice.

More information on its findings can be accessed by contacting