A good professional reputation is worth its weight in gold. Building that reputation can be challenging at times, but ultimately, is the path to a rewarding, top tax career.
To uncover the important elements of a successful career in tax, we caught up with Louise Meijer CTA, Partner at Pitcher Partners.
A recognised expert in superannuation strategies and compliance for Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSFs), Louise’s expertise doesn’t end there, and extends to discretionary trusts, deceased estates, estate planning, asset protection and succession planning, just to name a few.
Louise has more than a quarter-century of experience, with twenty-two of these years spent as a Director at PwC. During this time, she advised private companies and high-wealth individuals on their tax matters, providing strategic advice along with compliance services.
She became Client Director at Pitcher Partners at the end of 2015, and became a Partner not too long after, a role she still performs – and enjoys – today. We spoke with Louise about three very important parts of establishing a leading tax career: networking, technical knowledge and professional recognition.
You are no doubt already aware that networking is a key ingredient to any successful career. For Louise, networking is a two-pronged strategy for success.
According to Louise, the first key benefit of networking in tax is business development.
“We're always needing to find new clients and keep growing our businesses. So of course it's important to know people who are going to help you with that, in terms of connections that you can make with clients, introductions that other professionals can make for you, and often teaming together to work on things,” she said.
But there’s also a more personal side of networking, which comes down to creating the career and the profile that you want for your future. For Louise, that includes “…the networking that comes from the CTA community and the Tax Institute generally, just meeting people on similar but different journeys to yourself.”
“Really, I know it's helped me a lot in my career. Working at how to be a professional and doing it the way I want to do it.”
“As a professional, particularly in tax, there's so much technical training that we all need to do and that never stops,” Louise said.
While journals, papers and tax technical books may be your first port of call for technical expertise, Louise said that for a career in tax, the opportunity to attend CPD events dealing with technical matters is, “just absolutely essential”.
Whether it’s brushing up on corporate tax or a deep dive into the ins and outs of superannuation, these events give you the opportunity to not only meet leading practitioners from around the profession, but to gain insights on a dynamic and changing professional environment.
“Not only does the law never stop changing, it's always evolving. I think your perspective on things changes over time,” Louise added.
“You can never be complacent with tax [and think] that you know everything. I don't think that's ever going to happen. That's one of the reasons we love being in tax - that CPD is essential throughout your whole career.”
Last but certainly not least, recognition amongst your peers, colleagues and clients for your good work and dedication is crucial for making that final step into a senior position or running your own practice.
One way to gain the kind of professional recognition that can rocket you to the top of your career is to achieve Chartered Tax Adviser status. A Chartered Tax Adviser designation is a mark of technical excellence and professional integrity which is widely recognised as the pinnacle of the profession.
“I think the CTA designation just shows your peers, your clients and other people in the market, that you take your career in tax seriously. That you've worked hard to get where you are and you're committed to the lifelong learning that comes with that as well,” Louise said.
“I think it opens doors. You almost don't need to prove your credentials to get a foot in the door. That's just something that is expected of a CTA, so I think that's really helpful in my career.”
To become a CTA, you must complete the CTA education program, only available in Australia through The Tax Institute. Initially, to enrol in the first subject, you must have attended 6 years of high school taught in English, or meet the English language requirements for the course.
By the time you enrol in the final subject, CTA3 Advisory, you must also have at least 36 months professional experience. For practitioners with prior experience and learning, there is also the option of enrolling directly into CTA3. And at the end of the program, you will have completed the education steps to gain an internationally recognised CTA designation.
“I received the CTA designation when I was senior manager or client director at a Big 4 accounting firm. I had been a member of the Tax Institute for some time and had come from a business services background,” Louise said.
She went on to explain that as she thought more about what she wanted from her career and what direction she wanted to take, tax skills and knowledge became a very important part of her progression. The CTA designation, she said, “was an important step” in progressing her career.
So, is the CTA designation worth it?
“I'd definitely recommend the CTA designation,” Louise said.
“As I say, it is that foot in the door that shows that you've put the hard work in, and you're committed to continuing to develop your skills. It also opens up a great network of people, other CTAs, other people in the Tax Institute; the people that you meet along the way that become so helpful in your career and also can help to motivate you to do great work. So yeah, I definitely recommend it.”
If you’re ready to start building a career where you’ll be recognised for not only your technical skill, but your dedication to continual improvement, find out more about the Chartered Tax Adviser program today.