Tax Technology is now a well-established sub-sector of the tax market. It’s still developing quickly in various directions in the UK, following the lead from the US where tax technology has been around for decades and could be viewed as a much more mature market compared to the UK. But what are the classic traits of a successful tax technologist?
Unlike training as a lawyer or an accountant, where there is an obvious training ground for access to that profession, there is no tried and tested equivalent in the world of tax technology. The majority of tax technologists will have switched into the sector from a tax background. For example, they may have trained in tax within an accountancy firm, possibly moved to industry, and with some form of affinity towards the IT and process side of the computational tax work. Others may have trained in IT/software, for instance in the SAP/Oracle applications sector, and then found their way into setting up tax content within the finance modules of those systems.
Suffice to say; many tax technologists will have stumbled across the sector on a career path from somewhere else. So what skills should they have, or will they need to develop successfully in this niche area?
This is a question that I have put to various senior level executives in the tax technology sector, those from the consulting side, the software side and the in-house side. I’ve asked this question many times during my Interview sessions that have appeared in this newsletter. So I aim to pick out some of the recurring themes that have come from this line of enquiry. On further analysis of responses from market leaders, the key skill or talent areas tend to fall into 3 main categories:
1. Problem Solver……..leading to pragmatic solutions
There is the key requirement to be a natural problem solver. To have a logical mind, and constantly looking to improve a process. It also helps a lot to be a mathematical thinker, and to be able to visualise and understand concepts in multi-dimensions. This latter skill area tends to be more specific to creating complex databases. As well as being a great problem solver, the solution has to be pragmatic as ultimately the end solution has to work within a commercial enterprise and/or to be used by a tax practitioner.
2. Appreciation of client / user needs
Good tax technologists have to A. Understand what a client or end-user needs, and B. Be able to communicate effectively to the end-user the benefits of a software or system solution. More broadly, having strong ‘convincing’ skills will help towards success in the tax technology environment, which is ultimately very customer-led.
3. Intrinsic passion for technology
This is a more obvious trait of a successful tax technologist, but an essential one. You have to love and embrace new technology, want to find out more, and be ready to self-learn new IT platforms and capabilities.
I think for anyone entering, or already within the tax technology field, it seems that if these 3 skills and knowledge areas are either already there, or strongly developed over a long career period, it could be the difference between Good and Great.
If you are trying to develop and advance your tax technology career, and would like a confidential discussion, please contact Simon Godley at email@example.com