Tuesday, 28 April 2015

What are recruiters looking for in their graduate tax professionals – could it be you?

For the recently graduated, you’ve weathered long nights of study and emerged triumphant, armed with all the makings of an accomplished tax professional. So how can you ensure you have the opportunity to turn this dream into a well-paying reality?
 
What tax recruiters are looking for
 
The Big Four cite educational diversity, ambition and a passion to contribute (and evolve) in the workplace as the most coveted traits of a graduate tax professional. Studying the candidate-selection process used by the firms you apply to can be indicative of the skills they prioritise, and therefore the skills you should underscore during the application process.
 
While selection methods will vary from firm to firm, you can expect the standard process to include a series of interviews, face-to-face assessments and a test of applied skill, such as a case study, to determine your eligibility. Specifically, your would-be employers are looking to gauge:
  • Why you chose to apply for the role, including demonstrating what knowledge you have of the firm.
  • Your communication and time-management skills.
  • Your literacy and numeracy levels.
  • Your personality, including your teamwork skills and leadership potential.
 
Increasing your odds
 
Beyond having an impeccable CV, being versed in industry news and proactively networking at career events, there are a few things that will help you better prepare:
  • During the job-application process, make notes on each company’s organisational structure. Should you be successful and progress to the interview stage, this material will be important to convey not only your readiness to progress, but your interest in the firm. Specifically, what is your pathway to progress and what in-company learning programs are available?
  • Behavioural questions are a favourite among recruiters to judge your personal skills. These are often situational-based with answers that reflect how well you handle tense situations. An example would include: “Tell me how you solved a problem that had a particularly time-sensitive deadline?" Respond to these questions using the STAR technique: situation, task, action, result. Contextualise your answer, outline what was required of you, define what course of action you took and how it played out. This will help keep your answer robust, but concise.
  • An eagerness to undertake further education, particularly those courses that feature practical skills such as the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, is a pursuit well-received by employers. This is a trait that helps demonstrate your dedication, determination to succeed and budding management skills.
 
While qualifications alone are not the golden key to your first job, they do equip you with a number of desirable traits that employers are looking for. Take note on how you can improve during the selection process and bolster your chances of taking home the prize.
 
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Monday, 27 April 2015

Member profile: Josh Walding

Employer: PDK Financial Pty Ltd

Position: Business Services and Tax Senior Manager

I completed a double degree in Commerce and Applied Finance at the University of South Australia in 2004, upon which I obtained a graduate position at Ernst & Young. I spent 8 ½ years at EY in the Private client area of the Tax Division working with family businesses and high net wealth individuals before deciding to join PDK Financial, where I have been for 2 ½ years undertaking a similar, but more hands on role directly with clients.

Describe your current role

My current role is varied and always different with each client bringing their own challenges and issues. On any day I can be advising family groups on the best structure to undertake their business, to working through complex tax issues on proposed transactions for some of our larger clients, or undertaking tax planning initiatives so our clients are aware of their approximate tax positions before completing their tax returns. I also manage the compliance team for our SMSF clients, and internally mentor the junior staff along their professional journey.

Describe your involvement in The Tax Institute’s committees or contribution to the Institute

I have sat on the Membership Services Committee (SA) for about 18 months, presented at University’s to highlight the benefit of Student memberships and presented at various Bi-monthly briefings and other TI events.

What are your career highlights?

From a client perspective, no one highlight sticks out, but working directly with clients to assist and watching them grow their businesses, whilst arranging their structures to be efficient and effective has been very rewarding. I was lucky enough to be seconded to the Brisbane office of EY relatively early in my career, which was a great step out of my comfort zone and personally was a very rewarding experience.

Why did you join The Tax Institute?

The availability of information and technical resources the Tax Institute can provide is second to none. Being in a smaller firm now, having access to such resources written by your respected peers is beneficial for me to keep up to date with relevant legislative changes and key topic areas that directly influence my clients’ businesses and affairs.

What advice can you give to graduates?

Put your hand up and get involved. In professional practices, success doesn’t come to you, you have to get out there and chase it. If you’re willing to step up and have a go, it shows great initiative and a thirst for developing your education and experiences.

Who or what inspires you?

My Dad is a constant motivation for me. I grew up one of 4 kids from a country community. We never came from a financially abundant background, with mum staying at home to raise the family, Dad took whatever work he could to ensure food was on the table and clothes were on our back. He’s shown incredible loyalty to the company’s he worked for, which has taught me valuable lessons. He’s always been a great sounding board for me, both professionally and personally, and shown me what type of father I want to be for my children.

What do you do to unwind?

I have 2 young children, so unwinding really revolves around them. I get so much joy from the hugs I get from walking through the door when I get home every day. Aside from family, I love playing golf, and touch football, and travelling whenever we can.

Favourite holiday destination?

I have just recently returned from a 3 month holiday travelling the East Coast of Australia with my wife and the kids in a caravan, and whilst I have travelled overseas a few times before, I think North Queensland is one of the most scenic and relaxing areas I have been to. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

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 (Timeful and Evernote are two popular options), 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, in hard copy and even as an app.

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.


Give yourself the edge with free Student Membership

If you are a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.

Find out about Student Membership.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Sample exam question 2 - April 2015

Your answers to the following questions should be concise and should be supported by reference to relevant taxation law.

Question:

Jimmy Opaque claims that he has been advised by ‘a person in the know’ at his local sporting club that he should put his business into a trust and then he can reduce his income tax by spreading his income among his family, while retaining full control of his business and income. Jimmy’s adviser has told him that all he has to do is obtain a pre-printed trust deed (which the adviser can provide) and fill in the blank spaces, showing that he is the trustee of his business and providing him with the discretionary power to distribute all the business income to his family as beneficiaries. ‘It’s as easy as that,’ says the excited Jimmy. Comment on the advice which Jimmy has received.

To view the answer to the question click here.


http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

Find out more

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Four apps aspiring tax professionals should know about

Apps can bring a world of knowledge to your fingertips. Here are four that every budding tax professional should know about.

Pocketbook

Finance professionals understand the power of a budget, and Pocketbook is both a conscience and budgeting app rolled into one. By syncing to your bank account, the app keeps track of all spending and updates your account balance as you go.

The app even categorises your spending and provides alerts to upcoming bill payments. Among the best budgeting apps on the market, Pocketbook has a feature called Safely Spend, which allows you to limit your weekly or monthly discretionary outlays.

Ever wondered where the money slipped through your fingers? Pocketbook has a geolocation service to track exactly where you spent, in addition to a photo function to help you keep on top of your receipts within the app.

Evernote

Evernote is a single, creative digital space that allows you to collate, as the slogan goes, “your life’s work” in one app.

Using a range of note-taking, photos and recording devices, Evernote is the ultimate note-scribbling app that allows you to arrange your thoughts throughout the day. It includes a dedicated search engine and stores work in the cloud so that it can be accessed from any device – at home or the office. Evernote is synonymous with flexibility and its minimalist design allows the user to customise the interface.

ATO app

It had to be on the list, didn’t it? The Australian Taxation Office’s app is a one-stop shop for income tax and superannuation. In addition to being able to consolidate super into one account and keep track of the progress of a tax return, the ATO app can do a host of calculations on tax commitments and credits.

If you don’t want to wait on the phone to the ATO for hours on end, you can even book an after-hours call through the app. Best of all, you can convert information from the tools into a PDF and email it to yourself.

iPassSafe

Nothing is more frustrating than the rigmarole of the three-password-attempt roulette when you need to enter a site fast. With caps lock, numerical characters and symbols or dated passwords, it seems that passwords are taking over our lives. Enter iPassSafe.

A must for those industry websites or passwords that you might only access once every quarter or annually, the iPassSafe app organises passwords into a wallet via a four-digit code. Whether it’s credit card numbers, licences, bank account details or websites, the app allows users to store hundreds of numbers and passwords.

Give yourself the edge with free Student Membership

If you are a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.

Find out about Student Membership.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A to-do list for first-year tax students

In a competitive environment such as the tax and accounting industry, it’s never too soon to start laying the groundwork for your future career. Here are five things you should aim to get sorted during the first year of your university tax course.
 
Develop a good grasp of the tax system
 
You can't build a house without a firm foundation, and gaining a solid understanding of the Australian tax system as soon as possible is the first step to a great tax career. You can – and probably will – spend a lifetime learning all its intricacies, but you'll want to nail the basics early on. (You may find enrolling in The Tax Institute’s CTA1 Foundations taxation course an effective way to achieve this.)
 
In particular, get your head around GST
 
It's the aspect of the tax system you’ll encounter more often than any other and, as you’ll soon come to learn, there’s a lot more to it than just whacking 10 per cent on top of the cost of many (but not all) goods and services.
 
Set up an internship
 
There's no better way to acquire practical experience and make some useful connections than through an internship. Australia's Big Four firms – Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and Ernst & Young – are the prestige destinations. All four have student programs, so bookmark these pages and visit them as often as you can:
 
But don't limit your search to major (or even minor) accounting firms – companies in almost every industry have finance departments where you can pick up practical experience.
 
Attend at least one industry event
 
Getting your name out there at networking events is a perfect way to make contacts that will help you down the road. The Tax Institute has a calendar of key industry events that are listed by state so you can find one close to home.
 
Join The Tax Institute
 
This one should be a no-brainer. Aside from free access to the Taxation in Australia journal – which can make all those assignments much easier – discounted rates on tickets to seminars and events, and a quarterly student newsletter, there's the price: zero. Zip. Nada. Join up right now.
 
Your first year at uni will be a remarkable period of personal and intellectual growth. By all means enjoy your new environment, but don’t forget to do the legwork that will set you up for a great career when you graduate.
 
Give yourself the edge with free Student Membership

If you are a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.

Find out about Student Membership.