Helping a couple move from South Africa to the UK

Emma and Ryan slanders move from South Africa to the uk

Moving across the world is not a transition for the faint-hearted. We caught up with a couple from South Africa who took the leap last year to find out more about their move, and how SRM Recruitment was able to ensure the move from South Africa to the UK was a smooth one.

Emma and Ryan Sclanders found help from SRM Recruitment with their move from South Africa to the UK

“There were a number of things that drew us to move from South Africa to the UK. At the risk of sounding negative about a country we both love, I think a big reason for our move was that we were both desperate for a taste of adventure beyond the small town we have always called home.

At the same time, we also wanted to find somewhere to put roots down and to be able to build a life for our family. I am lucky enough to have an Irish passport and due to the fact that Ryan’s gran was born in England, he was eligible for a British ancestral visa. We literally had passports to an opportunity that would shape the rest of our lives and so we took the leap.

Once the decision was made, things moved quickly and before we knew it, we were knee-high in bubble wrap and living out of a suitcase with my parents. It was rather chaotic, but exhilarating at the same time. However, we did not anticipate the emotions we would face once we arrived in the UK. Aside from the fact that the exchange rate was not in our favour and the taxi ride we had to take from the airport to our Airbnb totalled more than my monthly groceries in SA, we had never been homeless or unemployed before.

It’s a very strange and daunting experience, starting off from scratch in a new country, so we were very grateful when my husband Ryan applied for a job and his CV caught the attention of SRM’s recruiter, Paul Craggs. After a phone call, Paul and another recruiter, Tom, met Ryan for coffee. Ryan came home filled with enthusiasm, he knew that he was in good hands.

Paul gave Ryan loads of advice and guidance for each potential role he had in mind for him; discussing what to research, giving background information on the companies and what to expect in the interview process. He found a specific role that really appealed to Ryan and facilitated the process seamlessly until Ryan was totally comfortable and satisfied. The role required four interview stages – all of which Paul was there to support and advise Ryan through.

On chatting further to Paul about our situation, Ryan explained that I was also looking for a job. His SRM Recruitment colleague Tom then started looking at options for me. He rang me up on a Thursday, kindly fetched me from the station to prep me for the interview that afternoon and by Monday morning the following week, I had signed my contract and officially started in my new role. He was very perceptive and accurate when it came to finding the right role for me after discussing what I was hoping for.

The best part about our experience with SRM, through Paul and Tom, was the fact that they didn’t just reassure us, they actively sought to make sure we were looked after and happy in our roles. My brother recently moved over to the UK from South Africa and I didn’t think twice about immediately sending him to SRM for assistance with his job hunting. Tom was fantastic once again and found him a graduate role within a few weeks of his arrival here.

We are so very grateful to Paul and Tom and would absolutely recommend them to others. With all the information and assistance they gave us about the roles and how to deal with the interview processes we both felt so calm and reassured during a period that would have otherwise been stressful and daunting without their guidance and knowledge.”

If you are considering a move to the UK, or have recently moved and need some support looking for a role in finance, tax or wealth management, we’d love to speak to you. Drop us a line and one of our consultants will be in touch as soon as possible.

About Emma and Ryan
My husband Ryan and I were both born and raised in South Africa, in a small town near Durban, on the East Coast. We are both dog-crazy and have two gorgeous hounds (who will be joining us in the UK in March). Ryan is also an avid sportsman who is passionate about cricket, golf and hockey, while I, on the other hand, was not gifted with much hand-eye coordination and prefer reading and the arts!

What to do if it’s time to move on

what to do if it's time to move on

The ‘New Year, New You’ messages have barely died down before the bonus and promotion season gets started in many industries. For those who miss out on the pay rise, the bonus or the promotion they were hoping for, it can seem like the ideal time to look for a new opportunity. But with so many other candidates having the same idea, is it really the best time to move on? We ask Rory MacSween, Co-Founder at SRM Recruitment, for his advice on what to do if it’s time to move on.

  1. Talk to your manager
    Don’t wait until your resignation to negotiate your position at your current firm. While the grass may seem greener at another organisation, a new opportunity in an environment you’re familiar with may be a great chance to realise your potential without having to enter a crowded market. If your concerns are purely remunerative, talk to your line manager sooner rather than later. If you wait to take a counter-offer when you resign, you could tarnish your name in the organisation.

    Have regular discussions with your manager about what their long term plans are for you. It’s not something you should do three months in, but if you’ve been with an organisation over a year, it’s a good idea to regularly challenge your manager so that you both understand each other’s expectations. Those conversations can build a healthy relationship that could make the difference between staying or looking elsewhere.
  2. Talk to your peers
    If you’re experienced in your field, it can pay to have an informal chat with people outside the organisation that you have a good relationship with. These are likely to be senior advisors who might have insights into the market or their own network where hidden opportunities could lie. Maintain a relationship with these people and you may hear about a role ahead of the curve.
  3. Partner with an expert
    Recruitment consultants have access to a network of opportunities that are not widely available publically. Speak to colleagues who’ve left your organisation and have experience in the recruitment market who can give you the names of trusted partners and agencies.

    Once you’ve found one or two that sound promising, have a non-binding conversation with them to get an understanding of which agency will represent you best in the market. Bring a list of your ‘dream organisations’ and see whether they have a relationship with those firms, or whether they know that company’s current hiring strategy. If they don’t, they might not be the right agency for you. Be selective – it’s very off-putting to a hiring manager to see your CV come from multiple sources, as it shows your lack of control over your search.

    Don’t wait until the 11th hour to find the right partner for you. It takes time to build a good relationship with a recruitment consultant, then the hiring process and your own notice period can delay things further. The sooner you can have speculative conversations, the better.
  4. Keep your details up-to-date
    If you start talking to a recruitment consultant in the New Year, then you have a salary and bonus review in Spring, make sure that you update them on any changes to your remuneration expectations. Be upfront and honest about what you want – no one wants a surprise at the moment of offer. Be realistic too, about your expectations. Ask your recruitment consultant about benchmark salaries, and be aware that ‘golden handshakes’ or similar packages are far less common now than they used to be.
  5. Leverage LinkedIn
    There are still many candidates who do not have a complete, up-to-date LinkedIn profile, and this puts them at an immediate disadvantage. Whether you love social media or hate it, LinkedIn is a necessary evil, and if you’re actively looking for a new role, it’s worth investing some time to get your profile right. Follow the guidelines LinkedIn has created to ensure your profile is complete. It doesn’t have to tell the whole story – it can be a snapshot, but it must be attractive enough to appeal to recruiters and employers.

    If you are expecting Linkedin to be a useful source of new roles for you make sure you regularly check your messages.
  6. Take your time
    Missing out on a promotion or the bonus you want can make you resentful and emotional. However, it’s important not to jump quickly into the wrong opportunity. No matter how desperate you might feel, make sure you move for the right reasons, to the right place, and not just because an opportunity looks similar to your role but with £5k more on the paycheque. There’s nothing worse than having multiple moves in a short period on your CV, so take the time to avoid mistakes.

SRM Recruitment will always give an honest appraisal of our reach in the market and our track record of helping people like you. If we can help, we’ll tell you how, and if we can’t, we’ll try to point you in the right direction. Our approach means we work with fewer people, but we build long-term relationships with them, meaning our candidates often become our clients. If you’d like to chat with one of our consultants about how we can help you, get in touch.

Advice For Hiring Managers

advice for hiring managers
advice for hiring managers

Over the past three months, we have spoken to leaders in their field about the changes that will impact their teams in the coming years. With decades of experience between them in hiring exceptional talent for their organisations, we have compiled their advice for hiring managers. Whether you are planning to expand your team in the near future, or you’re in the middle of recruiting right now, these six tips will help you ensure your next hire makes a positive impact on your organisation.

  1. Align your recruitment with business strategy
    By understanding the values and vision of the company, you can align your hiring with the business strategy, making your next hire not only ready to meet your needs now, but also the needs of the organisation in the future.

    Henning Lauritsen, Acting Head of Tax at Wyeland Capital (GFG Alliance), shares: “at a fast-growing company I needed people who could deal with the practical issues that arose – I hired an M&A professional who lacked the big names on his CV, but who had built up his own systems, and that was exactly what the business needed.” Without connecting to the broader strategy, the risk is that you miss out on talent by only considering ‘the best CV’.

  2. Hire slow and fire fast
    For most organisations, hiring needs can be anticipated. Try to plan early and accommodate enough time to source the right candidates, then have a robust recruitment process, that includes a broad range of colleagues, to select the right person.

    Richard Francis, CFO at Netcentric explains “most of the regrets in my career have been around bad hiring decisions, and the common trait is recruiting too fast.” The time and cost spent at this stage will be far greater than the chaos if the wrong person is brought on board.

  3. Partner with your recruiter
    If you’re choosing to use a recruitment consultant, it’s essential that they fully understand what you need so they can deliver results at pace. Invest the time with your recruitment consultant and do it face to face, so they truly understand the needs of your business.

  4. Avoid a shopping list
    Put yourself in the position of your candidates. As Richard at Netcentric explains, “if they’re already doing the exact same tasks as the job description you’ve written, and they already have all the skills you’re looking for, why are they looking to move?”

    Think more strategically about the growth opportunities in the role you’re hiring for and have an open mind about which areas you’re willing to train someone in versus the skills you need them to have on day one. This should open the candidate pool up to a more diverse range of people and potentially source you someone who can bring a fresh perspective to the organisation.

  5. Do your research at the CV stage
    Interviewing is a hugely time-consuming process for all parties. John Wilson, Finance Director at Morrison Utilities, recommends filtering candidates by checking their understanding of the role, the business and its people before interviews start.

    “You can’t get everything you need from a CV to invite a person to interview. Work with an agency who have met with the candidate and understand them as a person, then trust that recruiter to recommend your shortlist. If the homework is done upfront, you’re ahead of the game”

  6. Get to know your preferred candidates
    Increasingly we see our clients adding informal interview stages to their recruitment process, where hiring managers and their colleagues can get to know their preferred candidate in a more relaxed environment. This can offer more insight into their personality, which as Richard Nordgreen, Head of Investments at Proseed explains, can be invaluable in a smaller firm: “that’s not just so we get to know the person we’re interviewing, it’s equally so they get to know the personalities around the table”.

If you would benefit from a strategic recruitment partner to assist with your next role, we’d love to have a chat about your needs. Please get in touch and we can discuss how to approach your recruitment process to source the right talent for your organisation.

Video – Working with SRM Recruitment

working with SRM recruitment

Honesty, timely communication and attention to detail are just some of the attributes our clients appreciate from our service. In this short video, SRM Recruitment asks our client, Richard Nordgreen, Head of Investments at Proseed Capital, to share his thoughts on what it’s like working with us.

Richard Nordgreen, Head of Investments at Proseed Capital

How To Build A Tax Team From Scratch

Building a tax team from scratch
Building a tax team from scratch

Henning Lauritsen is a leader in the tax profession and has created internal tax teams for a number of large international companies. Having worked with Henning to build the tax team at Wyelands Capital, SRM Recruitment asks for Henning’s advice on how to build a tax team from scratch.

What kind of people should you look for?

It’s critical to source people who understand how to work with the business if you want to successfully build a tax team from scratch. Of course, a tax professional needs to understand compliance, but they need something more than that. It goes beyond being up to date with operations, they have to really understand the business approach.

When we set up the tax team at Wyelands Capital, we partnered with SRM Recruitment because we wanted to build a thinking tax team, not an operational tax team. We partnered to create a strategy, which was approved by the CFO, and SRM helped me to fill a number of roles. In the past, the Group’s tax department was too operational – we wanted to be real advisers. Now, the team are in place and my boss has relocated so we’ll be even closer moving forward. It’s fundamental to work closely together so the senior management can understand tax.

I think it’s more important to find balance in your team than to try and hire the ‘perfect candidate’ on paper. When we were creating our tax team at Wyelands Capital, we had some very strong theoretical tax knowledge, but we needed someone who brought more practical experience. We sourced a candidate from South Africa who had really strong practical skills, and this complemented the strengths others had. You have to think of the team as a whole.

How do you run your team?

We have one central Group tax department, but we also have satellite tax departments in Bucharest, Ostrava, Sydney and Dallas. The local knowledge is invaluable, and it keeps the dynamic fun – they love visiting the London team, and vice versa. I have always tried to set up tax teams to reflect the countries we are operating in, as well as having a gender-balanced, multicultural team. When you have the opportunity to build a tax team from scratch, I think it’s important to mirror the real-world environment and have that diversity.

In terms of rewards, teamwork is key, so for example, a bonus wouldn’t be awarded unless people work well together. They don’t have to like each other – that doesn’t matter in our department – but everyone must cooperate. I have a strong belief in the power of the team.

We hold a weekly meeting to ask everyone what they’re working on. This is also a great opportunity to share our knowledge with the business, by inviting colleagues from other disciplines e.g. procurement to talk about what they are doing and how we can help.

How can you work most effectively with tax authorities like HMRC?

The first thing to understand is that tax authorities do want to work with you. By having an honest, respectful dialogue, you can work more effectively. For example, in Malaysia, we advised the authorities that we couldn’t work to their timetable, and also that our system is approximately correct (we called it our 80% rule.) That is not unusual by the way – no matter how much you go into the detail, something will always be wrong. So, we try to be practical and realistic and explain any limitations. It actually helps us be more accurate because we are not sweating the ‘small’ stuff but making sure we are putting time into what really matters. We explained we were following OECD guidelines, and they understood.

We have a good relationship with HMRC because we are open and transparent. They joined us at a risk review and we had a very good meeting. They don’t actually like court cases – they want to solve problems.

It’s really just a case of being good corporate citizens – and not just the tax department. We’re here to help and assist, and by doing so we protect our business.

When do you bring in external expertise?

We do need to use outside experts from time to time. We did an acquisition in seven countries and to aid our understanding we used the regional PWC advisors to do the local due diligence work. We know when to ask for help and use external advisors for difficult situations.

Partnering with SRM Recruitment to build our tax team from scratch was a good use of external expertise to find the best talent for our roles. SRM acted as true consultants to our business and helped shape our hiring strategy, as well as filling the positions.

If you are planning to build or expand your tax team, please contact us to discuss your needs. For more information about Henning’s career and for his thoughts on the Future of Tax, visit our Insights section.

Video – Advice for Hiring Managers

advice for hiring managers video

In the first of a series of video interviews, SRM Recruitment asks one of our clients, Richard Nordgreen, Head of Investments at Proseed Capital, for his advice for hiring managers seeking to grow their teams, and about the management style he has adopted to achieve success.

Richard Nordgreen, Head of Investments at Proseed Capital

Why Use SRM Recruitment?

Why use SRM Recruitment
Why use SRM Recruitment

How does SRM Recruitment go the extra mile for its clients? We find out by asking one of them. Ed Barroll-Brown is a Founder and Partner at Grafton Capital, a private equity firm based in London.

“SRM Recruitment has placed two roles for us over the last year. The first was a CFO for a fin-tech portfolio company, and the other was an in-house accountant for our own business.

Ed-Barroll-Brown why use SRM
Ed Barroll-Brown, Founder and Partner at Grafton Capital

“We wouldn’t hesitate in recommending SRM Recruitment’s services.”

Ed Barroll-Brown, Founder and Partner at Grafton Capital

We were very impressed and pleased with the level of attention and care that these mandates received. Stewart, in particular, gave each role a lot of thought and provided a higher level of screening and insight than we have received from other firms.

SRM also offered a flexible approach, which was both efficient and cost effective for us and, most importantly, they delivered.”

The Future of Corporate Finance

Chand chudasama future of corporate finance
Chand Chudasama Future of Corporate Finance

Corporate Finance professionals must be able to keep up with emerging trends to best advise their clients. But what lies ahead for the sector itself and how are skillsets changing? Here to shed some light on the future of corporate finance is Chand Chudasama, Strategy & Corporate Finance Partner at Price Bailey.

How has technology and data changed Corporate Finance and Strategy?

Undoubtedly there’s a huge amount of data out there, and most corporate finance and strategy outfits have bought access to it through aggregators. It’s inexcusable to ignore the data that’s there. However, it’s not enough.

Whilst the quantity and quality of the data available is increasing, the clients themselves are gaining their own commercial rigour. Many have come from industry and, armed with this easily-accessible data, in many cases their insight is better than the consultants’.

Combine this trend with the fact that many corporate finance forecasts are still based on optimistic growth assumptions that lack data-driven evidence – you see projections of revenue and margin going up, which looks great, but isn’t an accurate picture. 

To keep pace, and to stand out in a competitive market, we need to do something different. When I took over the strategy team at Price Bailey, I wanted to create an insights and research team that took an innovative approach. We now focus on building primary market research into how a business could grow in different markets, and how it could be valued as a result. For example, we do price and market testing around the world, turning that evidence into projections that have a real rationale behind them. It’s a combination of qualitative and quantitative data that offers a far more credible and useful picture to the client. 

What about further into the future of corporate finance, what might be three things to look out for? 

It’s a continuation of what we just discussed:

  1. The amount of data will increase but the number of people who can connect that to value creation will fall. Data will proliferate but people will focus too much on that and forget to ask the ‘so what’ questions.
  2. As clients become savvier about corporate finance, consultants will need to expand their knowledge to stay one step ahead and continue adding value. Traditional advisors who have only ever worked in finance will struggle to command premium fees, as we see a rise in recruits joining the business from outside the industry and bringing skills such as sales, marketing and increasingly, technology. We’ll still need lots of ACAs, but the expectation will shift and people will need to demonstrate complementary skills.
  3. If advisors can’t think on a global scale, they will struggle. If I think of the international deals we do now, compared to six years ago, the number has increased exponentially. We have embraced that, and we use technology and support teams to facilitate our work. If you can’t think globally, you’ll be limited in your growth and miss out on huge opportunities.

What has been the impact of alternate finance, and how do you keep up with this?

I’m excited to see what the alternative lenders are going to provide in the near and long term future, because I really believe that alternative finance is the right thing for the growth of the British economy and for our businesses. For early-stage companies, alternative financiers can be very effective on the debt and equity side to provide funding. 

It’s an area where Britain is lagging behind. In France, we see capital trusts doing a great job of leveraging alternative funding for businesses in their early stages of growth. The issue is that this is a challenging area, where the risk is high and we need more people to back alternative funding in order to reach a critical mass. I understand why alternative financiers might not want to fund that space, it’s risky so it’s hard to make it work.

To learn more about Chand’s rise to success, don’t miss his ‘10 Lessons Learned on the Path to Partner’. If you feel ready to discuss your next career opportunity in Corporate Finance, or you’re looking for talent to fill a role in your organisation, please get in touch.

Lessons Learned From A Career In Tax

lessons learned from a career in tax Henning Lauritsen
Henning Lauritsen lessons learned career in tax
Henning Lauritsen, Acting Head of Tax at Wyelands Capital (GFG Alliance)

Henning Lauritsen is Acting Head of Tax at Wyelands Capital (GFG Alliance). Originally from Denmark, Henning started in international tax at petrochemicals company Borealis. He started Carlsberg’s tax team from scratch, and since then has led several global organisations through periods of transition and merger. In the latest of our ‘Lessons from Leaders’ series, we find out what Henning has learned from his career in tax.

How did you arrive at your current role?

In 2009 I was working in Hong Kong for a global commodity group. I travelled a lot – it felt like I went around the world in two weeks. Jules Verne had nothing on me! It was a very interesting company, but jet lag plagued me.

I moved to London for a new role, where I set up the global tax department. I was still travelling, visiting the US and parts of Asia to get closer to the business. When they closed the London office in 2017, I wanted to remain in the City.

Around that time, the GFG Alliance called me and asked me to focus on their M&A business – Wyelands Capital. They did things differently there, and it seemed like a great opportunity to learn, so I joined them as Acting Head of Tax. It’s a year since I started – I think they still like me!

You’ve had a very successful career in tax – what has driven your progress?

It sounds like a contradiction, but I think I have survived by not becoming too focused on the tax world. You have to understand the connections an organisation has within and outside itself, and then to work with the business to translate tax into their language. It’s just as important to understand accounting and cross-border challenges, as it is to understand people and cooperate with them.

To be successful, a tax leader cannot operate alone, and I’m a big believer in synergy. One person can dig a ditch of three metres in two hours but two people can dig seven or eight metres of ditch at the same time. That’s the power of the team.

What lessons have you learned as a tax leader?

There are three main lessons I would share with someone wanting to pursue a successful career in tax:

  1. It’s important to be a good leader. This means working as a team – you’re only as strong as the weakest link. You have to take care of people, lead and guide them, then they will deliver.
  2. You must think broadly. I analyse the company accounts. That’s not my job, but I proactively look for anomalies, such as the effective tax rate, so I can spot any errors sooner. I do what I call ‘the sniff test’ – if it smells wrong, it probably is. I look at the whole business through the lens of tax and take a broad view of the situation.
  3. When you do speak to people, be clear – the way we communicate as tax professionals is critical. I can guarantee that the business does not understand what I’m talking about if I use phrases like ‘future relief’. Terminology also differs from country to country, so an international team must be sensitive to that. You have to be able to explain simply – no long stories! It’s important to pitch your communications to the person’s level of understanding.

How do you advise the business as a tax leader?

In tax, as in many other disciplines, the more experienced you are, the more you need to consider the real question you are being asked. You may only be told parts E-Z of a story, and you have to first understand A-E yourself, and research the background. To properly advise, you need to ensure answering the right question. Never take a risk if it makes you think ‘I hope no one sees’ – you are there to protect the business.

Any career regrets?

Not really! I’ve tried so many different companies, all with different cultures. I’ve had a very interesting career, and I always think that that job I have now is the most important one. I say to other people ‘don’t complain about your situation – you took the job!’. Take control, drive things forward – if you want a salary rise, ask for one and explain why.

I’m happy I chose tax – it was the right decision for me. Tax is like a piece of art of me.

How is tax like art?

If you know your legislation and how to see connections within the business, tax professionals can figure out beautiful plans to save money and serve the business. We must always consider the ethics of our actions – we don’t just do things because we can. But there is pleasure in finding solutions for the business.

For example, I had just joined one organisation and due to the way we were structured and set up historically we had to pay £5m in tax. Working in partnership with PWC, we found a solution that reduced our exposure, reduced risk and was ethical – all by understanding the law, the detail and thinking creatively.

We’ve seen how a broader understanding of the business, clear communications and the power of teamwork have driven Henning’s career trajectory. For more in our ‘Lessons from Leaders’ series, and to discover Henning’s thoughts on the future of tax, visit our Insights page. If you’d like to discuss your next tax role, please get in touch.

The Future of Tax

Future of Tax HMRC Building
Future of Tax HMRC Building

Henning Lauritsen is Acting Head of Tax at Wyelands Capital (GFG Alliance). We hear Henning’s three predictions for the future of tax

A closer relationship with tax authorities

In recent years, businesses have cooperated more and more with tax authorities, and the future of tax will see this trend increase as a lack of resources forces efficiencies. The authorities will ask us to implement policies, state our tax strategy on the website and get the whole company behind that strategy. If those policies are put in place, then we won’t need their audits – we have protection around the company and that makes us stronger.

Greater internal controls

The more internal controls a company can implement, the better that company will function. As technology allows our procedures to be digitised, I expect this area will grow in the near future. We can already see that digital VAT and tax creates efficiencies so that we as tax professionals have more time to focus on the company more broadly, rather than the detail.

The world is changing very quickly, and the future of tax will see many more tasks becoming automated. For example, automated transfer pricing reports will allow us to easily consult the business quickly on the markets it should sell to. These processes will also become more accurate over time.

The future of tax teams

The tax department must start to look like a thinking team, focused more on strategy and overall policy than the detail. Automation will mean the tax team reduces in numbers, and those left in it need to shift from being operational to more consultative. The tax department will be more involved in the business than they are today – among the C-suite you may see more tax professionals, lawyers and accountants. Closer integration with the business, perhaps as a virtual team rather than one separate, centralised department, will ensure the tax specialists can better guide the various teams as to what’s best for them.

In summary, it’s clear to see how better cooperation with tax authorities, more automated and efficient internal controls and a more consultative approach will shape the future of tax in the very near future. Stay up to date with the latest trends by following us on LinkedIn. To discover Henning’s thoughts on building a tax team from scratch, to learn about his career path and to access our ‘Lessons from Leaders’ series, visit our Insights section.

Henning Lauritsen lessons learned career in tax

“We can already see that digital VAT and tax creates efficiencies so that we as tax professionals have more time to focus on the company more broadly, rather than the detail.”

Henning Lauritsen, Acting Head of Tax at Wyelands Capital (GFG Alliance).


If you’d like to discuss your tax role, or if you’re looking to make your next career move, please get in touch to talk about your needs.