Key Trends in Talent Expectations Shaping Corporate Law, Tax, and Finance in 2024

After a few years of pandemic-induced trends, 2023 marked a return to the old ways in more ways than one. Yet, it was also a year where some post-2020 trends seemed like they were baked into workplace expectations for good. For senior professionals in corporate legal, tax and finance, the trends that started showing in 2023 are expected to accelerate and solidify in 2024. 

These insights were shared with us by Vahura’s recruiters, based on the many conversations they have had with legal, tax and finance professionals about workplace expectations. Here’s a breakdown of trends and patterns from last year, and what professionals in these domains can expect this year:  

1. Achieving work-life balance and embracing flexibility

  • Hybrid/remote work: Flexibility took centre stage in 2023, with hybrid and remote work becoming the norm. The transition to a three-day work-from-office setup gained acceptance among professionals and organisations alike. In 2024, this trend will continue to grow, as professionals strive to maintain the delicate and hard-earned balance between work and personal life.

  • Location preferences: Senior professionals displayed a strong inclination towards roles within specific geographic limits in 2023, emphasising the importance of staying close to family and community, which could be considered a continuation of a pandemic-linked trend. This preference will persist in 2024, leading employers to think more deeply about providing more localised options.

  • Welcoming weekends off: The traditional workweek gained popularity in 2023 as candidates sought a clear distinction between their professional and personal lives. Looking ahead, professionals increasingly want the option of working from home if the employer requires work on all or alternate Saturdays. “My usual work schedule is Monday through Friday with weekends typically off,” said a Senior Legal Counsel at a multinational corporation, “For my next position, I’m seeking an arrangement where weekends are free, or at least Saturdays offer the flexibility of working from home.”

2. Evolving compensation and career goals

  • Embracing retainer models: The preference for retainer-based compensation models, which offer higher in-hand salaries, continued to shape the landscape in 2023. This trend is expected to gain momentum in 2024.

  • Focusing on career development: Last year saw a shift towards horizontal growth opportunities alongside vertical promotions. This desire for a broader scope and more significant responsibilities will intensify in 2024. “As a newly promoted Senior Legal Counsel, I find that my role’s scope hasn’t expanded with my salary,” a Legal Counsel at a renowned MNC told us recently. They are now looking for opportunities that offer both a higher designation and a wider range of responsibilities.

  • Investing in education: Last year, professionals strongly expected companies to invest in their further education. This expectation will solidify in 2024, with professionals chasing educational support and associated pay increases.

  • Job switching for better opportunities: In 2023, professionals, especially those in the latter stages of their careers, demonstrated a tendency to switch jobs every 4-5 years in search of better opportunities. “I am exploring new opportunities in the market after four years with my current organisation, where I feel I have reached a plateau in learning and growth,” said the Head of Legal at a listed company, “It's time for a change to overcome this sense of stagnation.” This pattern will persist in the coming year.

3. Prioritising stability and reputation

  • Preferring established & profitable companies: The inclination towards stable, profitable organisations over startups was a notable trend in 2023. This preference for security will continue to grow in 2024.

  • Thorough research on compliance and profitability: Vetting potential employers for compliance and profitability became standard practice in 2023. This diligent research will remain essential in 2024, as candidates shy away from organisations that have weak compliance standards or face existential risk.

4. Transforming onboarding and managerial dynamics

  • Longer onboarding period for niche profiles: For niche profiles where it is harder to find candidates, professionals with different or allied areas of expertise are willing to take up these roles with the expectation of a longer hand holding period (2 to 3 months) as part of onboarding. The longer onboarding period minimises friction as they adapt to their new role.

  • Managerial preferences: Candidates, particularly in tax and finance, expressed a keen preference for experienced managers (senior to them in their year of graduating) in 2023. This preference will shape hiring and team-building strategies in the coming year.

5. Valuing perks and prioritising mental health

  • Negotiating perks: In 2023, additional perks become a key aspect of offer discussions. Perks include relocation bonuses and home drop facilities. In 2024, perks and benefits will continue to dominate the conversation, second only to compensation when it comes to factors for job switches.

  • Emphasising mental health: The importance of mental health gained prominence in 2023 and will continue to be a top priority in 2024. Employer policies will be shaped to accommodate this fundamental shift, particularly for young and senior professionals, while mid-level professionals will still place emphasis on compensation and growth.

In conclusion,

The trends witnessed in 2023 within the corporate legal, tax, and finance domains reflect a deeper shift in professional priorities and expectations. With patterns like welcoming weekends off and preferring profitable companies, we saw a return to the more stable and predictable workplace expectations that were standard a few years ago. But other trends like the hybrid model and the emphasis on mental health are clearly a fallout from the pandemic. 

But, even here, there seems to be some level of stability because it looks like these trends are here to stay. In 2024, these trends are set to strengthen, guiding employers in shaping policies that align with the evolving needs of their workforce. By staying ahead of these trends, organisations can ensure they remain attractive to top talent in these competitive fields.

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