What makes a great tax professional?

Legislation doesn’t stand still, and neither should you. How can you navigate the stormy seas and come out on top?

We caught up with Jake Berger, Senior Manager at Pitcher Partners for his perspective.

TTI: What makes a great tax professional?

JB: I think some of the key traits or skills of a successful tax practitioner would firstly be just that drive to keep learning, because obviously the legislation doesn't stay still. You need to constantly research, keep on top of it, not rest on your laurels because you'll think that you know everything and then suddenly a curve ball will come out and realize that you don't actually know anything.

The other big skill that you need to have is that analytical mindset, so being able to read legislation, being able to do research, find the precedents, read a case, and apply that to the situation.

Furthermore, just make sure that everything that the client tells us is actually correct, because they'll often give you their view of it, and then analyze it according to the legislation.

TTI: What advice do you have for tax professionals?

JB: The main advice I'd give to someone starting their career in tax is to take all their opportunities. Don't be shy to put your hand up and try something new. If a partner or a manager throws you a question that you don't know the answer to, don't run away from it. Give it a go, do your research, back yourself, and just try to get to the right answer.

TTI: What are some of the most challenging things they could face and how would they overcome them?

JB: Probably some of the big challenges—going back to the backing yourselves—is getting thrown in that deep end and getting questions that you don't know the answer to, that you never looked at in your life, and trying to do the research, and doing that, again, in that methodical and analytical way.

Asking for advice where required, so don't think that you need to come up all with the answers yourself—there's nothing wrong with getting help—but at the end of the day being responsible for whatever output you're giving.

Find out how membership of The Tax Institute can boost your career.


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