Tax Matters

Developing In-House Tax Talent

Posted in: Income Tax Transaction Tax VAT

In one of The Wall Street Journal’s recent “CFO Journal” articles, Deloitte Tax LLP Partner Jacien Steele identifies five important questions CFOs should ask their tax executives. According to Steele, "With turnover in tax leadership projected to increase due to retirements and the competitive market demand, CFOs should engage with tax in order to enhance tax literacy and develop future tax leaders."

Steele’s question is spot-on, timely and centers on talent management. Manpower’s global talent-shortage research indicates that finance and accounting staff positions (which includes the job title - tax professional) once again ranks as one of the top five most difficult jobs to fill in 2013 – as they were in both 2012 and 2011.

Succession planning marks a crucial component of an effective tax talent management approach. Other important components of a leading tax talent management capability include recruiting, training and development and exposure (i.e., getting tax staff in front of the right people – and the right challenges and assignments).

In this first part of a two-part post on tax talent management practices, I’ll share two leading recruiting practices I’ve seen deployed by top tax functions:

  • Seek out ‘Tax Athletes:’ Leading tax departments tend to target two types of tax professionals when recruiting. These include highly experienced and more senior tax professionals, as well as “tax athletes.” The second category refers to tax professionals who have less experience, but are well-rounded in their tax technical skills. These “athletes” possess an innate eagerness to learn from the senior tax leaders, and are receptive to their coaching; they also are eager to work in the different areas of the tax department to continue to expand their technical knowledge.
  • Pair your Athletes with Seasoned ‘Trainers:’ Younger, well-rounded tax professionals need the right grooming to reach their full potential. The most effective senior leaders not only possess deep experience, they also have the confidence and drive necessary to enjoy sharing their knowledge with younger, less experience colleagues. This type of knowledge transfer, not coincidentally, helps tax functions strengthen their succession planning.

Again, recruiting is only one aspect of an effective talent management program. In my next post, I’ll discuss leading approaches related to the training, development and mentoring of tax professionals.

Please remember that the Tax Matters provides information for educational purposes, not specific tax or legal advice. Always consult a qualified tax or legal advisor before taking any action based on this information.

About this Contributor
Bill Brennan

William Brennan was formerly a Chief Tax Officer at Vertex, Inc. He has over 33 years of tax experience with a record of building, developing, and leading large corporate tax departments. Bill has worked in many industries throughout his career including healthcare, software, financial services, transportation and manufacturing. His tax practice experience has included planning, intercompany transfer pricing, structuring/restructuring of business operations, offshore intangibles, contract manufacturing, cross-border financing, mergers and acquisitions, legislation, private letter rulings, examinations, administrative appeals, and litigation.


I am interested by the subject of in-house tax teams development.
Bill Brennan's picture

Job rotation and exposure are two key practices that can help. Job rotations give rising tax professionals the opportunity to explore most, if not all, tax areas. Ensuring that all in-house tax personnel have adequate exposure to senior mgt. and other depts. can also help. Building your own tax team enables you to train staff and develop skill sets that can only benefit your company. Please see my other post "Tax Talent Management Tips - Part II" for more info.

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