To stay or not to stay in practice?

Jay Davitt, ACA 16.05.2017
Many tax professionals coming to the end of their contract, or indeed at any stage of their career, wonder should they stay in practice. The phrase “the grass is always greener” comes to mind when my tax candidates ask me this.
 
I started my career as a tax graduate in one of the big four practices and time working overseas in both practice and industry. Between my own experience and feedback from tax professionals, here are the best bits for both:

Working in practice

Technical skills

Staying in practice deepens and strengthens your tax technical knowledge,  you have more use of your tax legislation and internal training is structured and frequent.

Opportunity to specialize

As practices by their nature, are split by specialisations, this gives you the opportunity to specialise in one particular area of tax and become an expert in this field. Furthermore there is a clear distinction between compliance and advisory work. 

Structured career progression

In practice, job titles are clearly defined, the timeframe and what is requirement to get there are clearly defined. The level of turnover is moderately high and as such there are regular openings for promotion. 

Peer group

Often underestimated, if you train in practice, you may start with a large group of people of the same age, background and interests. Not only do they provide support but can be friends for life.

Diversified client portfolio

Obvious I know, but you get to work on the tax matters of various companies and as such work can be more varied.

Global mobility

Opportunities to second to international member firms are plentiful.

Working in industry

Commercial focus

Without doubt working in industry allows a deep understanding of one company, witness the full tax cycle/project to completion and gain commercial awareness not afforded in practice.

Administration

No timesheets! Probably the second biggest advantage of industry, however be warned within industry there are other administration burdens not encountered in practice.

Work-life balance

A good level of work-life balance can be achieved in industry and perhaps more evident in practice, however, don’t be fooled into thinking all industries work 9-5.  For many, there is constant deadlines to be met whether it be for monthly or quarterly reporting, acquisitions/group restructurings and conference calls with overseas colleagues with significant time differences.

Opportunity to diversify

Tax professionals within industry have the chance to diverse from tax and move within other functions and often become strategic decision makers in an organisation.

Salaries

Salaries are often higher in industry for certain positions.

Jay Davitt's picture
Manager | Accountancy & Finance
jdavitt@morganmckinley.com

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