Regulatory reform, digitisation and globalisation means the tax profession is facing significant change. Claire Thornett, Manager in the Specialist Tax Advisory team at WLF Accounting & Advisory in Hobart, shares her insights on key challenges practitioners face in this volatile landscape, ahead of her session at The Tax Summit.
1. Be proactive and stay informed
With opportunity comes great responsibility and with Claire’s role managing a Specialist Tax Advisory team, ensuring everyone stays ahead of the changes is critical to ensure they meet their client needs. Claire emphasises the importance of keeping up to date with the latest in legal, tax and regulatory information, in a climate of rapid change.
“The challenges for my kind of work are the changes in legislation happening so frequently and the instability of the changing government,” Claire says. “But by being proactive and staying informed, it’s much easier to prepare for changes as they come. This helps us communicate concisely to clients, while diminishing the frustration or any uncertainty as a practitioner.”
Claire also stresses the significance of maintaining relevance with accurate information while embracing a culture of change can help build trust and forge stronger client relationships in the long-run.
“It’s about professional development, maintaining your relevance in tax and not being afraid of change,” she adds. “It's so important to keep up to date with what’s going on in Australia, as well as internationally.”
"Focusing on your relationships with clients and building trust when things aren’t certain, can help minimise the risk of future drawbacks and also allow for a smoother transition to changes for you and your team.”
2. Embrace technology and AI platforms
There’s now a growing range of cloud-based platforms and AI-enabled accounting tools that can help facilitate compliance and assist professionals and their clients with commonly encountered questions. According to Claire, the assistance of AI can significantly enhance workplace efficiency and convenience.
“We shouldn’t see technological change as a negative, because it can enhance our daily practice, not replace it,” Claire adds. “Of course, all changes will come with a few challenges at first, like ensuring the transfer of large volumes of data remains clean and accurate, while maintaining the confidentiality, privacy and security of that data. But as the future of tax heads move towards these sorts of advancements in technology – it’s something we can’t ignore.”
3. Don’t miss key events like The Tax Summit
With the decade ahead set to bring in an influx of changes, The Tax Summit has been carefully curated to provide a wide spectrum of sessions and interactive workshops to help practitioners keep on top of key changes affecting their practice and clients.
“I'm actually looking forward to a lot of sessions on topics that don’t come up much in my day-to-day work,” Claire says. “It’s a good way to get a taste of other tax areas, because sometimes you can get too caught up in the day-to-day. A chance to ‘bend the ear’ of experts in areas you work in is especially exciting for me. Plus I'm really looking forward to the panels, and the sessions on technology and innovation.”
“Not only does The Tax Summit have a number of streams suitable for everyone’s area of expertise, it is also a great opportunity to understand the growing complexities of tax and a fresh platform to discover some of the more challenging questions clients may ask”, Claire adds.
“For anybody who needs professional development, it’s a great opportunity to gain those CPD points,” she says. “There will be a great variety of networking opportunities to connect with and a mix of speakers from so many leading professional segments.”
“These events are not just for experienced leaders, there’s a mix of speakers and sessions pitched to different levels of your professional career, including a dedicated stream for Emerging Leaders. I definitely suggest coming along. You will have a great time.”
Claire suggests that in order to maximise your time at The Tax Summit, be sure to prepare yourself with plenty of planning, goal-setting, plus researching the event’s agenda as well as speakers.
“I always download all the content from these events. If you have time, take a look at the speaker’s agenda and prepare some questions to ask them during question time,” says Claire. “This sort of direct engagement is highly insightful and more practical than simply dipping in and out of sessions. So the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.”
As a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Tax Advisor with a deep interest in not-for-profit and charities law; CGT small business concessions; and fringe benefits tax, Claire is set to speak at The Tax Summit in the Emerging Leaders category.
Her session, Overview of the Imputation Regime will focus on circumstances in which a company can make a franked distribution, how shareholders are subject to tax on those distributions and the anti-avoidance rules and protections contained in the tax law which prevent the manipulation of the imputation regime.
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