Partner’s 5 top tips for success in tax

Geoff Mann, CTA and Partner at Ashurst shares his 5 tips for
a successful tax career.
Geoff is a senior tax practitioner who advises on indirect
tax with particular emphasis on goods and services tax, stamp duty, land tax
and human resources taxes.
His tax experience spans over 25 years, and he has advised a
wide range of clients, across a range of industries and transaction types and
issues, across all Australian jurisdictions.
We caught up with him at the 34th National
Convention in Hobart. He shared with us 5 top tips on how to succeed in tax.
1. Develop your tax technical skills

Geoff says tax technical education
is essential for ongoing development.
“The only thing you've got to offer clients is that
technical expertise,” he says.
“I see myself first and foremost as a lawyer, and a tax
specialisation really brings with it a requirement to be absolutely at the top
of the field in understanding how the law works, keeping up to date with
“And that's where The Tax Institute has been integral over
the years in providing that
to continue tax technical development.”
Geoff is also a Chartered
Tax Adviser
(CTA), which to him reflects seniority in the profession.
“It's something that I think you can be proud of,” he says.
“You can stick it at the back of your name and people
understand what it means, and that it certainly gives you credibility and level
of seniority in the profession.”
2. Join a tax

Geoff has been a member
of The Tax Institute for over 25 years.
“As soon as I started to get involved in tax, I joined The
Tax Institute,” he begins.
“I really relied on The Tax Institute to provide ongoing
professional development opportunities
to attend conferences like the
National Convention to present at conferences as well.
“I was able to establish a profile and meet others in the
Membership allows
to a forum for networking and learn from acknowledged experts
in the field discussing their areas of expertise.
“Even 25 years on, I'm finding it's still the case,” adds
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3. Attend CPD events

Geoff says that the digital economy and developments in
communication technology means practitioners often just don't meet anymore.
“Events like the National Convention, State
Taxes' Conferences
and the National GST
are really good opportunities to get together and meet
Geoff says that while technical issues are a key point of
discussion, CPD events also allow you to discuss what's happening in the
business world, how other tax practitioners are developing generally and what
challenges they may be facing.
4. Develop your soft

Geoff says that soft skills are quite important in a tax
“I think they're actually quite hard to master and not
something that you're taught at university,” he admits.
“A university degree is usually focused on the technical
content while soft skills on how to deal with clients is something that you
acquire over time through experience.
“You can attend training sessions on various elements to
develop soft skills.”
However, Geoff insists that tax professionals are
intermediaries between tax legislation and their clients.
“So, it's absolutely critical that we can learn how to
digest and regurgitate the tax technical content in a way that our clients can
“I would encourage new practitioners when providing advice
to really focus on delivering it in a clearer way, so their client can
understand it better.
“And just looking at it from the client’s perspective. What
they really want is guidance on how to do something or an answer to a question,”
he adds.
5. Become a

Geoff says tax practitioners are always coping with change
regardless of automation and technological advancement.
“But certainly, it does provide a challenge,” he admits.
“Even internally with my firm, we have developed a new
division that explores new approaches to delivering legal services.
“And we've been asked about how we can step up and innovate
in the tax space.”
Geoff says surviving change is really about specialisation.
“It’s about honing in on what it is that you can do for
clients that they can't get anywhere else,” he explains.
“Certainly, at the lower end of compliance there definitely are
efficiencies through technology, but advisory will be difficult for technology
to replicate in the near future.”


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