Navigating the digital landscape: a plan for today's tax professional – 2017 SME Symposium

Michael Cox, PwC
“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." 

But what about the future? 

Just as your role today has changed markedly from what it was ten years ago, the tax professional of the future undoubtedly will be even more different. And preparing for this eventuality is no longer something that SME firms can put off.

Simply being a subject matter expert may not be enough in the practice and professional landscape of the increasingly-near future. The successful practitioner will be someone who can navigate and capitalise on the ever-changing technology landscape to benefit their clients and practice.

Alongside sessions that will deliver strong tax technical content, the program of this year’s SME Symposium has expanded to look at how the tax practice of the future will operate. 

Opening with a look at the role of a tax professional and asking if a new model is needed, Michael Cox (PwC) will then dive into how practitioners can navigate the new digital landscape they find themselves in. 

We spoke with Michael about what to expect from the event and why this refocused program is so vital. 

“I can remember starting out in tax just over 15 years ago," he said. "While green and red pens were no longer the norm, being a subject matter expert was almost certainly the most important criterion for getting ahead. It wasn’t long until being a technical guru was taken as a given and it became all about building relationships and winning work.

“Today’s tax professional, let alone that of the future, is all of these and more. If you’re looking to become a successful tax professional in coming years, you’re going to need to be someone who has the agility to navigate and embrace ever-evolving technologies to the benefit of your clients and practice.

“While some do this better than others, the majority of tax professionals either see technology and the disruption of the tax landscape as being a problem for someone else to solve – after all, we’re tax people! Some even feel that it’s a foreign and irrelevant topic. Regardless of where you sit on this spectrum, chances are you feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of possibilities and choices.”

“At the Symposium in November I’m going to be sharing some of my experiences, both good and bad, in working with tax professionals and practice leaders in Australia and other countries on the topic of tax technology. I’m going to try to cover a range of topics and technologies from managing a practice through to new sources of revenue.”

Michael’s session, ‘Navigating the digital landscape: a plan for today’s tax professional’, is one of three new-style sessions at the symposium that will look at the challenges and the realities of running an SME practice in a dynamic environment.

In addition, Steve Healy CTA-Life (Grant Thornton) will present on ‘Rethinking the role of a tax professional – is a new model needed?’. Michael and Steve are then joined by Chris Bray (Bray Chan Chartered Accountants) for the ‘Evolution or Revolution’ panel session, where delegates will have an opportunity to hear from a practitioner who has reinvented his business, to engage with our speakers and to ask their burning questions.


The 2017 SME Symposium will take place on 9 November 2017, at the Primus Hotel in Sydney.

You can find out more about these sessions and the rest of the program on our website.

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