Why tax technical expertise is just a “ticket to the game”

Queensland State Chair and Partner at Deloitte Private, John
Ioannou, CTA says that while tax technical expertise is crucial for success in
tax, it doesn’t guarantee a “seat” at the game.

John was admitted as a solicitor in 2002 and is a Partner at
Deloitte Private. He has experience in the areas of taxation, structuring,
trusts and estate, succession and asset protection planning. He is currently
Queensland’s representative on the Institute’s National Professional
Development Committee, a member of Queensland’s State Council, and elected 2019
State Council Chair.

We caught up with him at the 34th National
Convention in Hobart.

“Some of the insights I've taken away from the Convention,
as always, is really the opportunity to see other people’s perspectives on
issues that you come across in practice,” he says.

“When you've been in practice for a little while it's not
often the case that something takes you by surprise, unless you're dealing with
new law.

But I always enjoy hearing from other practitioners and how
they've dealt with particular issues because it’s helpful when you go back to
the office and can bring back different perspectives.”

So why a career in tax?
“What I really enjoy about tax is the problem solving,” he

“You can tell that you're helping them get to where they
need to be by unburdening them with tax-related issues that they really
struggle with.”

Tax education
“absolutely critical”

John says education
in the tax profession is essential.

“The reason for that is the areas we practice in are
complex, technical, and detailed,” he explains.

“There'd be very few people who would be able to just to
throw themselves into the deep end, immerse themselves in particular areas of
tax, and just come out knowing it all.

“Being able to enter into an education program
that gives you a framework to start pigeon-holing information as you gather it,
is essential.”

However, John says there is more to the experience.

“Tax technical is a ticket to the game, but it no longer
guarantees you a seat,” he points out.

“With the advent of technology, it's really taken away the
gatekeeper role that's traditionally been held by tax advisers.

“People now can access technical content, so in providing
services to clients, yes they assume that you have technical competency, but
what they're really looking for is a better quality of experience.”
John says that from a user perspective, it is really the
only thing that clients can judge, quickly and for themselves.

“Bedside manners are as important, if not more important,
than technical ability,” he adds.

“The Chartered
Tax Adviser
designation has been important to me, because it's
something that I can use to help explain to others where I am with my
professional abilities and skillset.”

Why he loves being a member
of the Institute

“My enthusiasm for The Tax Institute starts a long way back,
but for me it was really the opportunity to immerse myself in a profession,”
says John.

“The Tax Institute has been a pool of opportunity;
it's really opened up doors that I wouldn't otherwise have been able to get
into, and I like the way that as an organisation we do think of ourselves more
as a community.

“I love being able to come to events
or even being part of the organizing committees, where you can see the old
guard helping the newcomers into the profession, and developing not only just
the technical skillsets, but also other skillsets that'll serve them well in
the profession.”

John says being a part of that is something special and as
fulfilling as just practicing tax.

The future of tax:
“quite exciting”

John says that technological advancement will allow tax
professionals to fast track a lot of the “menial tasks”, which in theory should
give us more time to spend with clients and solving more complex problems.

“Having said that I do think that in the future a tax
professional will have to be mo
re of a concierge or project manager,” he

“And that's not to say that we will have to be generalists,
but we will have to have an appreciation of a broader range of issues. 

“To the extent that some of us are trusted advisors, it's
really then understanding where your skillset is, but being able to direct
clients to more appropriate professionals for particular areas.”

Tax is a “people

John’s advice to new practitioners in tax would be to
maintain a strong peer network.

“You can do a lot of things on your own, but I have really
valued the ability to being able to tap into a peer network, and just test my
ideas or perspectives,” he says.

“Ultimately, what we do, it's a people business; we're not

“It's a people business, so in my mind it makes sense that
you have to be able to connect with other people, who play in the same space,
because that's really invaluable and could only improve what your delivering to
your clients.”



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