The tax professional of the future

Until recently, the primary role of a senior tax executive was to provide extensive knowledge of the complex rules surrounding tax. These days, disruptive forces such as digitalisation, mean the skills necessary to be a successful tax professional are undergoing a remarkable evolution.

In these times of accelerated change, how do you ensure that future tax professionals are equipped to deal with the challenges posed by real-time tax reporting advancements and new transparency requirements?

The competition for tax talent has never been fiercer. While a strong technical knowledge will remain important, the tax professional of the future will need to have a more rounded skill set, including the following competencies:

Understanding how to apply A.I., automation and robotics

Companies that invest in artificial intelligence, process automation, and robotics will be able to automate much resource-heavy, repetitive tax work. This will allow companies to quickly dispense with the more mundane tasks that are carried out thousands of times a day. The outcome frees up the team to focus on more value-added work. The challenge for tax executives will be to convince finance teams to release budget and invest in these new processes.

Real-time data analysis

As the world becomes more digitally-focussed and tax collection is automated, with the introduction of real-time assessment, companies are investing in technology to digitise their reporting processes. These changes create real-time data, which businesses need to extract, analyse, and validate to ensure that appropriate tax rules are applied to the information it generates. “Tax Technologists” who understand and can operate this new technology can add considerable amounts of value to a business.

Influencing senior management

Tax directors are increasingly becoming key players at the front-end of business strategy. In an era of change in the international tax arena, the tax department is being further drawn into a broader strategic business role.

Tax professionals need to be strategic communicators and leaders who are able to motivate a diverse team in order to meet their organisation’s wider business goals, partnering more closely with operating business units, CEOs, and CFOs to work through complex business decisions and risk management decisions.