There is no doubt that the tax profession is experiencing rapid change; advancements in digital technology, increased regulation, globalisation and the changing needs and expectations of clients are all combining to impact the profession in new and different ways.
These dramatic changes pose an interesting question around what skills and competencies will be required by tax professionals in the future and how individuals can ready themselves to maximise their career opportunities. Against a backdrop of change, ambitious tax professionals should stop and ask – am I building the right skills mix to succeed as a tax leader of the future?
In the next 5-10 years there will be a requirement for tax professionals to exhibit a balance of seven key skills in order to meet the changing demands of clients – called “The Professional Quotient”:
Technical skills and ethics – meeting high standards of integrity, independence and scepticism
Intelligence – thinking, reasoning, problem solving, logic
Creative – ability to make connections, explore possible outcomes and generate new ideas
Digital – awareness and application of existing and emerging digital technologies and strategies
Emotional Intelligence – ability to identify own and others emotions, harness and apply them to tasks & regulate and manage them
Vision – anticipate future trends by extrapolating existing trends and facts
Experience – understand customer expectations, meet outcomes and create value
The need for strong technical skills and specialist knowledge will not diminish in the next 5-10 years. Moreover, as the global tax landscape become ever more complex there will be a requirement for increased specialisation, although current tax leaders expect their successors to supplement their area of specialism with knowledge of another discipline such as IT or law.
As well as becoming multi-disciplined, current tax leaders expect the need for business awareness to grow. It will be important therefore for tax experts to be business experts as well as tax specialists – taking into account commercial and risk-orientated views of a client business and being able to influence and interact with stakeholders through collaboration, advocacy and negotiation. Translating tax for a non-technical audience such as boards, investors, business managers and the media will also become increasingly important and therefore business and interpersonal competencies will be demanded more highly of tax leaders.
For the next generation of tax leaders, developing a balanced professional quotient (PQ) will be essential for progression. Seeking out experiences and gaining evidence across the 7 quotients mentioned will assist in individual business case discussions and appraisal evidence, enhancing career progression. Employers too have a duty to ensure the right role models, mentors and HR programmes are in place to ready tax professionals for the future. By doing so firms can create competitive advantage and retain talent. So for aspirant tax leaders, is it time to ask – are you building the right skills mix for success in the future?