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Tax Experts highest paid in Consulting Industry
December, 09th 2006

Poaching is the latest buzzword in Consulting with companies finding it hard to get real domain experts in the field who can handle the clients independently .The Pay Packages of Tax Experts have touched the roof in Consulting Industry due to vacuum of experts and the cost is no more a problem for employers with more and more MNCs setting up shops in India considering it to be the safest place in globe. The seasoned experts can be counted on tips and even Placement Agents run from pillar to post for searching a suitable candidate.

A Placement Agent specializing in Tax Placements said that though over 3 dozen IRS Officers have also floated their CVs; the Companies are not so open to hiring them as only an exception from the Government is suitable for Consulting Industry. The Government Officers mostly try to interpret the rules and regulations in favour of the Revenue and find it difficult to change their mindset even after moving  out of the Government. Besides they are not used to working 9AM to 9PM which is the primary requirement of a Consulting Company as the delivery is required within stipulated time frame.

The experienced Consultants command their own price.  The poaching of experts has become common in Big 4 Consulting Companies (Ernst & Young, Price Waterhouse Coopers, KPMG & Deloitte) and a hike of 50 percent is considered normal when an expert moves from one company to the other. Those who have the potential to move alongwith the clients command even 100 percent hike. When a Partner (Indirect Tax) of Ernst & Young who was getting Rs.75 lakh Per Annum moved to its rival; he was offered annual compensation of Rs.1.50 Crore. Though the Partners are not the stake holders in companies but they share a small percentage of profit. Indirect Tax Experts are more sought after than even Direct Tax Experts as Income Tax can be handled by any CA but only few have real expertise in Customs & Excise . A Manager (Indirect Tax) of Ernst & Young was recently hired by its competitor for Rs.30 lakh Per Annum. The fastest growing fields of SEZ and Service Tax have jacked up the compensation in the field.  

The going Annual Packages are as under:

Partner: Rs.50 Lakh to Rs.1.5 Crore 
Director: Rs. 30 Lakh to Rs.50 Lakh
Senior Manager: Rs.18 Lakh to Rs. 30 Lakh
Manager: Rs.10 Lakh to Rs. 25 Lakh

But even after paying such high packages to their Consultants; the Companies are not at loss as they are billing their MNC clients at the following rates for their Advisory Services:

Partner: Rs.15000 to Rs 20000 Per Hour
Director: Rs. 12000 to Rs.15000 Per Hour
Senior Manager: Rs. 10000 to Rs. 12000 Per Hour
Manager: Rs. 5000 to Rs.10000 Per Hour

Almost all the MNCs have given global mandate to one or the other Big 4 Consulting Companies and the Indian Tax Heads have limited option to appoint Indian Consultant. RSM, BMR and Khaitan & Co have grabbed a share of MNC Cake as their Partners were ex-Partners in Big 4 and when they moved out of Big 4; they moved with their team and their clients. 

Ernst & Young, RSM and Khaitan & Co are considered as best pay masters in tax field and almost all the companies are mute spectator to poaching as money is the biggest motivational factor for moving.

Retaining the seasoned experts is the biggest challenge being faced by the Companies as when the experts move; the clients also move if the expert is moving to a Big Company. A Big Company is yet to recover from the jolt given by its Head who moved with his team, clients and annual business of Rs.3 Crore. In long run the company's loss is estimated to be in the range of Rs. 40 to 50 Crore and its Country Head was on the verge of being fired by the Company on failure to retain top expert.The company finally clipped the wings of Country Head by curtailing the role assigned.

Considering the trend; a firm providing Consulting to Consulting Companies on how to retain their experts is really going to be a successful venture.

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