Bringing new skills to tax
June 02, 2021
The tax function is changing. There are new roles emerging and skills required in areas such as tax authority management, understanding the digital landscape of tax authorities and being able to properly evaluate business partners.
The other skill often lacking is understanding data and systems. Rectifying this deficiency around data will be crucial and tax professionals can increase their employability by developing such skills.
Organisations must know how to cultivate skills while understanding when outside resources deliver the best results. The key decision is whether the business needs new roles or new skills to address the demand for these new capabilities. Larger departments may add new roles, growing headcount, but for smaller teams it can be a matter of adding new skills to existing roles.
When a client comes to us to address their tax capabilities in respect of a particular project, they have three options. We can deliver the results to them. That’s where we bring in our people, with the skills needed, and do the work. That gets results quickly and fills gaps as needed. If an organisation wishes to bring these skills in house, however, the option of having us support them – bringing in members of our team and having them work with their staff to transfer the skills – can set them up for the future. And once they have those skills in the business, we can offer coaching, where their team does the work needed and we work with them to ensure workflow and results are optimised.
An example of how this might work is the automation of processes. There are many processes in any organisation that will benefit from automation. To have an advisor automate all of these is unlikely to be the most cost-effective solution. But having an advisor pilot automation of select processes while upskilling the organisation’s team, setting up a delivery mechanism with appropriate governance, gets the process started and brings desired skills into the organisation. Then providing quality assurance and subject matter expertise for automation of the next few processes gives staff the chance to hone those skills. Then, in the final stage, the organisation can run automation projects itself, with the advisor available for consultation. This process will leave the organisation more skilled and fit for growth.
Another option is to look at managed services. A managed service arrangement provides the organisation with a framework to use advisors as an extension of their in-house tax team, allowing them to draw upon a range of functional and jurisdictional expertise in a flexible way that controls cost and doesn’t add headcount.
If tax staff are open to learning new skills, that may be the best-case scenario. Good tax professionals, who already understand the function, can see the value in learning, for example, the digital skills their employer needs. This also opens new career options, such as tax transformation, and helping the tax function pivot to a more ‘value add’ purpose. We can help organisations upskill staff, including simulations to help tax professionals trial new ideas in a risk-free environment.
Developing new skills is an investment in the business. Tax transformation, the expansion of digital capabilities, the better management of tax authorities – none of these are going to happen without the right people. If you’d like to upskill your tax department, we’d be happy to discuss it.