Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Why mentoring is important for young professionals

 



Most people who are successful end up that way because they’ve sought out mentors to show them how to reach the top. In this blog, we will provide you with the valuable resources and information about why a mentor is so valuable to your career progression.

1. Mentor advantages
A mentor can be viewed as a kind of workplace parent – someone who can warn you against making short-sighted moves that could damage your career and instead encourage you to do those things that may be uncomfortable at first but will reap great rewards in the future.

Experience is a valuable thing. And while there’s no substitute for earning it the hard way, there’s also no rule against leveraging the wisdom of others.

A true mentor will provide honest feedback on how you’re performing and offer suggestions on how to improve your performance. They may also introduce you to people in their own network who can further your career.

2. When to search for an mentor
There is an old saying that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. The 21st century version is that when you feel you have something to learn – be it technical skills, management skills or even life skills – you’re ready to seek out a mentor.

3. How to find a mentor
People often agonise over where to find an appropriate mentor, but it’s really not that hard. In fact, if you think about it, you’ve almost certainly been mentored throughout your life by relatives, former teachers and sports coaches.

The best way to find a mentor is to simply contact someone you admire – even if you don’t know them – and ask them if they would be interested in mentoring you. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

There are no hard and fast rules about what makes a good mentor. If the individual in question is someone you respect, can teach you what you want to know and help you get where you want to be, they’re almost certainly good enough for your purposes, regardless of their location in the org chart, industry reputation or educational qualifications.

4. The mentor–mentee relationship
Like any other relationship, mentor–mentee relationships go through phases. In the early days, there may be a lot of enthusiasm on both sides, with the mentor flattered that someone is so interested in what they have to say and the mentee eager to learn all they can.

Over time, that initial enthusiasm will fade and interactions might become less frequent. And, if the mentor has done his or her job properly, at some point the mentee will have learnt all they can. At this stage, the parties involved may decide to stay in touch or go their separate ways.

However the relationship unfolds, the mentee should always show the appropriate gratitude and respect towards the person who has chosen to help them out.




The Tax Institute offers a Young Practitioners Mentoring Program for its member. Speak to a membership adviser on 1300 829 338 now for more information, or contact an adviser here.



Monday, 16 July 2018

Calling all Young Tax Professionals in Queensland

To help nurture the future of the tax profession, the Young Tax Professionals (YTP) stream at the upcoming Queensland Tax Forum has been specially designed for those who have less than five years’ experience in tax, and need to build and further develop their technical skills.

This specialised stream includes three technical sessions, and a session from the ATO, as well as the chance to mingle with colleagues and meet leaders from the profession during the breaks and over a drink at the end of the day.

Kicking off with some lunch and the opportunity to catch up with your peers, the stream’s first sessions is ‘Issues and challenges for revenue vs capital’, from Trevor Pascall, CTA (Crowe Horwath).

The revenue/capital distinction is an important part of every practitioner’s knowledge base.

Recent issues in practice, and matters arising in ATO audit activity, keep revenue/capital at the forefront of our minds. Trevor will revisit the core concepts of the revenue/capital distinction, and look at the practical actions and behaviours of clients which will influence whether something gives rise to a revenue gain or a capital gain.

Following Trevor is Leisa Rafter, CTA, (BDO), with ‘GST concepts all tax practitioners should understand’. The GST is a multi-stage transaction tax relevant to all businesses operating in Australia. Accordingly, it is fundamentally important that all tax practitioners have a working knowledge of the law. This session considers in detail core concepts and some key areas of the law.


Leisa said “Attendees will develop a practical and theoretical knowledge of the GST law and how it applies to the property industry, and leave with sufficient knowledge to provide basic GST advice to clients in the property space.”

In particular, Leisa will cover: the categories of supplies under the GST Law, GST treatment of different types of real property, a consideration of the margin scheme, and GST compliance concepts.

Finally, Matthew Burgess, CTA, (View Legal) presents the ‘Trusts intensive’ session.

The income tax treatment of trusts can be complex and is often misunderstood. Matthew’s session will explain some of the confusing aspects of trust taxation and is designed to give YTP attendees some context and background to some of the common issues that they might need to consider in practice.

Key topics covered by Matthew in this session will include an overview of the nature of “trusts”, the way in which beneficiaries are defined, trust-to-trust distributions and perpetuity rules, and implications of failed distributions.

Following Matthew’s session, YTP attendees will re-join the rest of the Forum’s delegates for some afternoon tea, and then hear from the Australian Taxation Office’s Nicole Dykstra about ‘The ATO’s Tax Gap Research program’.

There has never been as much focus on whether taxpayers are paying the right amount of tax as there is today. The ATO’s Tax Gap Research program provides a quantitative basis to ensure that we have an informed discussion on these issues.

Nicole’s session will cover the what, why, and types of tax gaps – definitions and descriptions, challenges and benefits, different approaches for different gaps to deliver reliable, credible and meaningful gaps, quality and assurance – independent expert reviews, and some insights and observations.

The Young Professional’s Stream represents excellent value and an ideal training and development opportunity, at only $175. Find out more about the stream and the rest of the Queensland Tax Forum program on our website, and join us 23-24 August, in Brisbane.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

How to prepare for your first tax season

Staring down the barrel of your first tax season? Avoid the anxiety from the get-go with these top tips for getting through what’s likely to be the most demanding period of your work year.

Find a time-management system that works for you

Work out what works for you when it comes to time-management technology. That could be an app on your phone or tablet (Evernote is a popular option), your trusty Outlook or Gmail calendar, or even an old-school paper wall planner. Whatever method you choose, make sure you use it religiously as you won’t be in a position to squander your most precious resource.

Maintain a work-life balance

This one seems counterintuitive until you accept that even high-performance engines can’t run at top speed for too long without overheating. Sure, minimise any unnecessary distractions during your busy periods, but make sure you also allow yourself some time to recharge. Schedule a run in the morning or dinner with your partner at night, or just get out of the office and go sit in the park for half an hour at lunchtime.

Learn to say “no”

If someone – a client, colleague or even your supervisor – asks you take on something unimportant or non-urgent, simply say “no”. Or, more diplomatically, palm them off with a statement like, “I’d love to help you out with that, but would you mind if we came back to this down the track? It's a busy time of year and I’m not confident I’d be able to devote the time and attention I’d like to it.”

Make use of the resources at your disposal


The Australian Tax Office has an entire section of its website dedicated to helping new tax professionals get on their feet. Take the time to read about everything from the tax-lodgement program to keeping your clients’ details private and protected.

Get up to speed beforehand

You can think of your first tax season as a very long, real-world exam. And what do you do if you want to do well in exams? You study. In this instance, you want to be up to date on any tax changes well before your inbox starts resembling Mount Everest. One way to keep on top of things is to check out The Tax Institute's Taxation in Australia journal, published 11 times a year. The journal is available to Institute members online or as a hard copy.

Keep these tips in mind when entering tax season and not only will you survive, you'll come out a better and more valuable employee, ready to take on whatever else the industry throws at you.



Education: Our programs and subjects help you achieve your full potential in your career, your workplace, and in the profession. Enrolments close Monday, 16 July.


Monday, 18 June 2018

Four tips to prepare for a career in corporate tax

There's never been a better time to conquer the area of corporate tax. Here are some tips for those interested in doing so.

1. Get the right qualifications

Needless to say, an organisation facing a tax bill in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars isn’t going to hire any old suburban accountant to take care of their books. The right tax-training course can set you up with the know-how you'll need and ensure you stand out from the graduate crowd. Aside from all the other facets it covers, the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law at The Tax Institute includes a subject that provides students with a comprehensive understanding of how public companies, private companies and corporate groups are taxed in Australia.

2. Line up an internship

Getting your foot in the door is often half the battle when it comes to a career in corporate tax. While the big firms like KPMG and PwC offer well-regarded internship programs, it's also worth looking at the Australian Tax Office and the finance internships offered by many of the nation's largest companies, such as Telstra and Google.


3. Know how to network

What you know is undeniably important in the field of corporate tax law, but so is who you know. It’s wise to establish relationships with people working in the industry well before putting the hard word on them for an internship or graduate position. You can do this by asking individuals if they’d be willing to meet you for coffee, joining LinkedIn groups and attending industry events, of which The Tax Institute has a great list.

4. Do your research

You don’t want to be left speechless when a potential employer starts quizzing you on your thoughts about the pros and cons of a “Google tax” or be caught searching the buffet for that “double Irish Dutch sandwich” you overheard someone talking about. If you’re willing to put in the effort – both before and after being offered a position ­– you can enjoy an interesting and well-salaried career in the field of corporate tax.


Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Soft versus hard skills



If you dream of a career in tax or accounting, you’ll need to be a master at identifying fiscal inconsistencies, understanding government legislation and balancing your clients’ books. But although these technical (or hard) skills are intrinsic to succeeding in your future profession, soft skills, such as your ability to form good relationships with customers and your willingness to work as a team, will make you more attractive to prospective bosses.

Cultivating both your hard and soft skills while you study isn’t as challenging as it might seem. Here are four top ways to supercharge your employment potential by proving you’re a candidate with the total package.

Get a customer-facing part-time job

The idea that accountants and taxation professionals crunch numbers without customer interaction is a thing of the past. These days, working in the accounting industry means communicating with clients, resolving their problems and learning to respond to their social cues. Getting a part-time job in hospitality, retail or customer service while you study can help you understand the art of anticipating and responding to customer needs. Once it’s time to put those soft skills into practice, it’ll be second nature.

Obtain a further qualification

An undergraduate qualification in taxation or accounting is not enough to make you stand out. Whether it’s learning a piece of up-and-coming financial software or brushing up on your knowledge of new legislation by enrolling in The Tax Institute’s Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law program, investing in your hard skills can be a shortcut to competitive advantage.

Take up a team sport

From collaborating with IT vendors to working with senior management, taxation professionals must be increasingly equipped to meet individual deadlines while working as part of a larger team. Taking up an after-hours sport such as soccer, football or tennis can help you learn how to work with colleagues, anticipate co-workers’ strengths and weaknesses and thrive in a team environment – an all-important soft skill that’s bound to put you ahead of the pack.

Study a second language

A career in accounting can set the stage for international opportunities, but a working knowledge of audit procedures isn’t enough. Signing up for an after-hours class to learn a second language can seriously boost your set of hard skills while broadening your professional horizons.

Although hard skills are critical if you want to establish a career in taxation or accounting, teamwork, communication and customer service play an indispensable role as well. What moves have you recently taken to boost your hard and soft skills?

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