Friday 29 July 2016

Achievements from an international student, Fei Han, in 7 years

I came to Australia in 2005, from China, as an international student. After initially basing myself in Perth, I moved to Melbourne in 2007 and graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Accounting.  

Having started my career in Audit at Ernst & Young China, I moved in to a Business Advisory role at Crowe Horwath Melbourne. As a graduate, I was really inspired by a couple of partners. They taught me how to satisfy your clients’ needs and build long term relationships with your clients. They also showed me how to balance their work and personal life. After a number of Crowe Horwath partners left to commence their own practice, Boss Private Clients, I choose to join them and became an integral part of their boutique accounting firm. 

Whilst working here I specialised in business advisory and providing accounting and taxation services to private clients. 

In 2015, I choose to become a member of The Tax institute. Among other things, I found that by become a member of a leading tax association it assisted me with services my clients better and I felt that by increasing my knowledge around tax, I would better position myself to give advice and guide our clients. I became a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand in 2014.

In 2015, I joined Grant Thornton’s Private Advisory division as an Assistant Manager. As an Assistant Manager I manage a portfolio of clients, delegate and review compliance work of junior staff, consult clients on tax matters and manage accounting and business aspects along with other duties. 

Throughout my career, I have continued to work closely with a diverse base of clients, ranging from family groups, high net worth individuals and SME’s. The advice that I want to give to graduates is that to be a good accountant or tax adviser requires many skills besides accounting and tax knowledge. Soft skills are critical in your career development.

If you also with to join a membership focused organisation to assist you with developing your client skills and tax technical knowledge, visit for further information. 

Tuesday 26 July 2016

6 unlikely tips to help you train your memory

Your studies can feel like an overload of information with only a fraction of it becoming knowledge. Retain more with these six tricks to train your memory.

1. Repetition
While we don’t expect you to recite textbooks like a multiplication table, repeating something you’re trying to learn helps lodge it in your memory. A typical path might be your lecturer saying something important, you mouthing it and then writing it down to read later. Saying it, writing it and reading it means it has been repeated three times in different ways, creating different pathways to your brain. (Teaching it to another person counts as a fourth!)

2. Building blocks
Memorising is easier when you have a foundation and then make connections between the new information and your established knowledge. If you need to remember a slab of information, break it down and add it to your memory piece by piece. For example, when trying to remember a case study, start with the who and what, and then gradually add the when, why and how.

3. Finding patterns
A mnemonic device is a common technique that links information to patterns that are more memorable, for example remembering the number of elements in a contract then expanding that to the actual elements. Commonly, mnemonics use a phrase where the starting letter of each word relates to the piece of information or short rhymes such as Thirty days has September.

4. Storytelling
The human brain is attracted to a narrative, so developing a story can help you remember details that might otherwise escape you. Turn information into characters you can describe and explain the consequences of their actions. What happens when GST meets BAS? Humour also makes information sticky and telling someone the story further embeds it in your memory.

5. Write a song
Delve into the meaning of nursery rhymes and you’ll find many are mini lessons in history effectively passed down by putting rhyme and music together. Choose a piece of simple music and write a short song about what you’re trying to learn. You may also find that someone else has done the hard work, like this economics rap on Hayek versus Keynes.

6. Create a game
Many games are geared to aid learning, and memory games reward recollection, such as matching a piece of information with another. Creating the game is often as important as playing it because it helps you structure information for easy recollection. You can also make a game for two or more people as learning in a group and constructive socialising also assists memorisation.

People respond differently to different techniques, so have a go at some of these to see which works best for you. You can also combine these tricks to enhance the effect.

Good luck with your studies this semester!

 Student Membership
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If you are a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.
Find out about Student Membership.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Tax can take you to the top

They say only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. But with a postgraduate tax qualification, such as a Graduate Diploma in Applied Tax Law from The Tax Institute, you can add a third: a range of diverse and interesting career options. Here are just a few.

Get political
A solid understanding of the tax system is a good grounding for aspiring politicians. Long before she was spending her days defending Medicare changes and fielding questions from journalists, Minister for Health Sussan Ley studied a Master of Taxation law. On the other side of the chamber, former Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury undertook postgraduate tax law – studies which led to a senior associate in taxation law position with the corporate law firm Blake Dawson before he entered parliament.

Join the Big Four
After a challenging period post-GFC, Australia's big four auditing firms – Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG and Ernst & Young – are eyeing growth in consulting services to drive revenue growth. No doubt they’ll be looking for go-getters with advanced tax training to help them hit their targets.

Scale the corporate ladder
Taxation knowledge can be your ticket to the top in the corporate world. A Master of Taxation helped Mark Weinberger become global chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young – and that's after he served as the Assistant Secretary for tax policy of the US Treasury.

Shape the economy
There are few things that have such an impact on a nation’s economy and its citizens as its taxation system. Granted, you may not get the respect or remuneration offered in other fields, but if you use your postgraduate tax course to get a job with the Australian Tax Office (which runs a graduate program), you will have the satisfaction of knowing you’re playing a vital role in shaping Australia’s economy.

One other thing to remember is that a postgraduate tax qualification could be your passport to travel the world. Harry Tonino, for example, worked on four continents after getting a Master of Taxation and ended up as International Tax Expert at the UN, where he spends his workdays undertaking tasks such as negotiating tax treaties.

So if you’re struggling to find the motivation to undertake further tax training, consider this: that tax course you complete might just be a stepping stone to the CEO suite, the Lodge or a top job at the UN.
 Studying with The Tax Institute
Take the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law.
Find out more by visiting the website or calling 1300 TAX EDU (1300 829 338).

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Are you making the right decision about your study mode?

 Studying with The Tax Institute
Deciding to pursue postgraduate tax training is more than just deciding on the learning institute. The big question is how you should study, face-to-face or via distance. We look at some of the things you might want to consider before making your decision.

Face-to-face learning relies on a prescribed schedule. And for some, that's a good thing. Being able to diarise and stick to a given timetable has its benefits. An established teaching structure means that learning and assessments are paced, can be planned for and must take priority. For those who have a tendency to procrastinate, face-to-face learning can help avoid backlogs.

Some prefer the flexibility of being able to schedule their own learning – they can slot in studying when it’s convenient and take control of their education. Tax courses taught online, like the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, offer that flexibility, with the only requisite being access to the internet. No longers are geography and other commitments barriers to advancing your career through education.

For some, classroom environments are conducive to positive studying outcomes, and face-to-face learning can be specifically structured to enhance focus and concentration. Attending lectures in person may help to avoid interruptions, distractions and delays to educational progression.

Others prefer the comfort of their own homes or offices when they study, and online studying provides immediate access to education, without the travel or the inconvenience of booking time out of the office.

Eugene Berkovic, director of taxation at GMK Partners, considers this to be a plus. “From an employer’s point of view, distance learning allows students to better manage and balance work commitment and study. This will often make them more productive and efficient.”

Maximising learning
Face-to-face education allows for the opportunity to ask questions, enter into discussions and practise newly acquired skills in real time. It also means assessment pieces can be enhanced by the contributions of your peers and the testing and tweaking of skills.

Advances in technology mean that tax training online is not a bar to proper learning. In fact, many suggest that comprehensive electronic and printed resources, online support and frequent online contact with tutors can be of such a high standard that they enhance the learning process.

One of the great bonuses of face-to-face learning is the forging of professional relationships. For Berkovic, networking is one of the benefits of meeting like-minded professionals in a learning environment.

Having said that, distance learning provides opportunities for engagement without geographical barriers through things such as group web/teleconference tutorials, which are designed with participant interaction in mind.

The quality gap between distance and face-to-face learning has narrowed. For busy professionals, distance learning no longer means compromising on standards. It can, however, mean achieving advancement without compromising on professionalism, and that's something worth considering.

 Studying with The Tax Institute
Take the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law.
Find out more by visiting the website or calling 1300 TAX EDU (1300 829 338).

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Life after university: what to expect from your new career

If you've undertaken work experience or a graduate program in a professional firm, you’ll know there’s a big difference between life on campus and what’s required when you start work in the real world. Here’s how to make the transition from student to a full-time tax professional as easy and pain-free as possible.

What to expect
Your first job is an essential step in shaping your career journey. Each new experience offers an opportunity to learn, build practical skills, establish rapport with your team members and expand your knowledge of taxation. So try to pick up as much as you can by asking questions and seeking assistance as you need it. Your new colleagues will be much happier to help you learn the right way from the outset than fix problems later.

Your role
In a graduate or entry-level role, you’ll most likely be given a variety of tasks to perform. Depending on the organisation, this could range from carrying out research to practical tasks like preparing tax returns and business statements. In addition, there could be formal training, workplace mentoring or coaching by senior staff, as well as opportunities to attend client meetings and industry events. Use these experiences as an opportunity to gain a firm grounding in best practice for preparing work, building communication skills and understanding business etiquette and due diligence.

How to behave
In the early stages of a new job you’re continuing to prove your worth to the company. Make sure you prepare your work carefully, adhere to processes and ask questions if you’re not sure. Remember that the early stages of your career are about learning to work as part of a team, so be flexible and see your colleagues and your manager as people to assist in achieving a common goal. Even if the work doesn't initially meet your expectations, your efforts will be rewarded and you’ll quickly learn about the company’s clients and business, which will hopefully lead to opportunities for progression. Don't forget that networking is an important part of a career. Read more about the do's and don'ts of networking as a graduate

Client management – learn from others
When you have the chance to attend meetings, use these experiences to learn from your colleagues. Observe how they explain issues to clients, manage expectations, set clients at ease and solve problems.

Keep studying and stay up to date
A solid technical base and knowledge of tax law will help you progress your career and distinguish you from others in your field. Formal training programs offered by The Tax Institute and other professional bodies, combined with on-the-job training are invaluable to young professionals. It’s also important to keep up with developments in the sector – tax is a specialised area and one that’s often subject to changes in law and practice, so continuous reading is required to stay up to date.

Making a successful transition from university life to the workplace is all about being prepared, taking the time to understand the experiences of others in the industry, getting to know more about the organisation and treating each opportunity and task as one to learn from.

Studying with The Tax Institute
Looking for that competitive edge? Look into completing The Tax Institute’s Programs, Single Subjects or Short-Courses.

Friday 1 July 2016

What every tax professional should embrace this FY

With the financial year coming to a close, technology will play to the strengths of younger practitioners’. Throughout the year technological issues have emerged in tax, staying up-to-date on these issues will make you stand out in the crowd. Here are four key things to look for come 1 July to ensure you are ahead of the pack.

1. Scam season
A new financial year brings with it new scams. Clients can be severely impacted, and tax professionals themselves are not immune either. Australian Taxation Office (ATO) statistics show a 68% increase in reported scams in May 2016 with a total of 15,006 scams reported in that month alone. These scams are only likely to increase as the new financial year kicks off and individual taxpayers start lodging their tax returns from 1 July.
Given the high profile of cyber security, it’s time to get your superiors on board with formulating some standards around what staff should do to minimise the risk of your firm and clients being impacted.

2. Data leaks 
In April this year, millions of documents were leaked from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca garnering a lot of interest from media, revenue authorities and the general public. The information released illustrates the extensive use of offshore entities in tax havens to shelter income and assets. Besides the important lesson in ethical tax practices in this story, there is the less-publicised IT story. News broke recently that an IT technician in the Geneva branch of the firm has been detained and is facing criminal investigation in relation to the leak. Without proper controls, IT issues can quickly become a reputational risk for your firm.

3. Early client contact
This year the ATO will have improved data-matching technology and will be armed with more sophisticated benchmarks of what constitutes a range of “normal” tax profiles and whether your clients are within that range. For the first time ever, the ATO will be checking taxpayers’ deductions in real-time as they complete their online returns. With the ATO investigating client data earlier in the piece, so should you.

This addresses a longstanding frustration of tax professionals who can sometimes be the last to know about their own clients' tax affairs through no fault of their own. It’s worth investigating whether your firm can get involved.

4. Practice software
At our National Convention in March, the Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan AO, announced that a Practitioner Lodgment Service (PLS) will be available from 1 July. This is a new gateway for practitioners to lodge returns with the ATO and from March 2017 it will be the only gateway to do so. If your firm’s software isn’t ready in time, you will be stuck running to the ATO with stacks of paper returns to lodge.

The ATO is expecting a gradual build up in returns lodged through PLS between now and March 2017.Time will tell whether software developers will get on board with this strategy rather than leaving it to the last minute to have their software packages SBR-enabled.

As a member of The Tax Institute, you will be provided with the support and knowledge to stay abreast of any changes this financial year and election.
 For more information on membership with The Tax Institute visit or call an advisor on +61 2 8223 0089.