Meet a member: Bill Keays, Hales Keays Chartered Accountants

“With knowledge comes confidence. If you get a reputation for knowing what you are talking about, you are on your way.”

Name: Bill Keays, CTA
Company: Hales Keays Chartered Accountants
State: WA
Member since: 2004
Areas of specialty

We work in SME taxation so I tend to focus on SME-related issues such as business structures, trusts, Div 7A and small business CGT concessions. I have also done quite a bit of work over the past few years supporting legal practitioners in disputes, including unravelling complex structures to assist in determining asset pools for family law purposes.

Why are you a member of The Tax Institute?
Initially, I joined because I felt the education offered was the best available. I joined the Western Australia Education Committee in 2008, and since then have met and dealt with some of the pre-eminent people in tax in WA. It has been a great way to make a contribution while keeping up with the latest developments in tax. I have always liked that the training is largely presented by local practitioners who are themselves operating in a similar environment to their audience.
How did you end up in tax?

I fell into it really. I completed two years of a physics degree at university before deciding that I didn’t really want to be a career academic, which was probably the most likely outcome at the end of my studies. I then enrolled in a couple of part-time business units and got interested in accounting and tax. From there, I joined Price Waterhouse and spent seven years there before leaving to set up Hales Keays. During my time at Price Waterhouse, I did SME accounting and tax work, but since setting up in practice, I have focused more and more on tax.
What are the challenges for tax practitioners this year?
The reform of Div 7A and the taxation of trusts are on the horizon, which will be interesting. Tax practitioners in public practice are also going to feel the squeeze from the ATO in relation to on-time lodgement.
There will likely be some broader discussion about the structure of the tax system given recent comments by the government about the structural deficit in the Budget, and the Commission of Audit report.
In our own practice, we are seeing quite a few family businesses transitioning from one generation to the next, which is probably a broader trend with an ageing population. So tax issues around succession and estate planning will continue to be very important.
Most memorable career moment to date

Probably the decision to jump from the safety of a Big 4 position into public practice with my colleague, Matthew Hales, in 1998. We started out with no staff and very few clients. I have learned a lot since then and I think being in business for yourself makes you a better adviser to your clients.
How do you relax?

I have three children in primary school who keep me fairly busy. I like to spend time doing whatever they are doing when I get the chance, whether it be sport, catching a movie or helping them with their homework. I play golf once a week and enjoy pretty much all sports (more as a spectator these days!). Being office-based during the week, I like to spend time outdoors on the weekends.
Advice to those entering the profession

My advice is to go the extra yard to understand and do things properly. With knowledge comes confidence. If you get a reputation for knowing what you are talking about, you are on your way.

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