Monday 11 November 2013

An insider’s guide to getting a job in tax

An insider’s guide to getting a job in tax
There are many pathways into the tax industry so whether you’re after a role in a multinational firm or want to set up your own practice, it’s good to know the skills and qualities you need to make yourself attractive to clients.

For the inside scoop on what tax industry recruiters are looking for, we spoke with Janna Fikh, the Principal of Fletcher Tax Accountants, a boutique Sydney practice specialising in tax for small businesses. She deals with a number of clients on any given day and loves making a difference to clients when they see how to be more efficient and more effective going forward.

Janna says a career in taxation is a process of learning and suits people who are not just good with numbers but have the social skills to understand clients’ issues and address them.

How did you become a tax accountant?

Janna Fikh
Janna Fikh
Never did I ever think accounting, let alone taxes, were for me. I was quite good at maths and I had to select another two units as part of HSC, so I decided to complete a Certificate II in Accounting via TAFE. After obtaining 98% for the subject, I thought this might be a good path to continue on. So I undertook a Bachelor of Taxation at UNSW.

What do you think is the 'ideal' pathway for a career in taxation?

I would first recommend work experience in an accounting firm to see what type of accounting a person might be interested in. It may be audit, it may be business services or it may not be right for them at all. I would also recommend finding a part time role in an accounting firm to be done at the same time as studies in order for everything to gel together more efficiently at the end of the day.

How have perceptions of the ideal taxation graduate evolved over the years?

These days, social capabilities are worth more than their weight in gold. Firms as well as clients seek out team players and/or those who can make a seemingly dry topic more approachable and comprehensive.

You use contractors, what are the attributes you look for in a contractor?

Contractors are great as they run their own businesses hence it is in their interest to be on time when it comes to set deadlines as well as skills they bring to the table. For example, all of my current bookkeepers are BAS agents, thus ensuring they abide by the harsher requirements as set by legislation.

What are the biggest mistakes a potential candidate can make?

Not wanting to learn or improve themselves, not taking the opportunity seriously.

What tips would you give a graduate looking to embark on a taxation career? 

Try different sections of accounting and find the right one which suits you in terms of remuneration, autonomy, skill set, location and niche. What suits one person may not suit another. You don’t want to do 40 hours plus in a job you don’t understand or won’t be able to personally excel in.

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