• Tax professionals must keep pace with the evolving regulations and technologies impacting their work. To do that, they need training and development opportunities.
  • It’s tough building a tax workforce that understands both tax regulations and technology. That’s why some firms are turning to tax managed services. 
  • The benefits of tax managed services include cost-effectiveness, access to advanced technology and training, a shift in people management responsibilities, and greater focus on the core business.

Whatever your tax function’s top initiative is right now, one thing is clear: Your success will depend on your people. Your company needs tax professionals who are not only talented and engaged with their work, but also proficient in the latest tax technical regulations and tax technology.

It’s challenging to build and maintain a tax workforce that fulfills your needs in all these areas. That’s why, in some cases, it might be best for your organisation — and your tax professionals — to try something different.

Creating a culture
of continuous learning

Job roles in the tax function are increasingly reliant on technology. Tax departments are expected to build and navigate a digital strategy that ranges from small automation to enterprise-wide emerging technologies, such as enhanced analytics and artificial intelligence. Some tax functions have the resources to roll out real-time tech training and foster a culture of continuous learning. Some are digitally transforming their workforce, giving employees the tools to put analytics, data visualisation, and automation to work. 

For example, PwC is digitally upskilling its 276,000 people worldwide in its New World, New Skills initiative, rolling out programs that range from skills academies to digital fitness apps to leadership development. Some employees will develop specialist skills in areas including data analytics, robotics process automation, and artificial intelligence, while others will learn about the potential of new technologies so they can advise clients, communities, and other stakeholders. The firm is investing US$3 billion, primarily in training its people, but it is also developing and sharing technologies to support upskilling for public and private sector clients and communities.

However, many tax functions are struggling to keep pace with the continuing array of advanced technologies available in the market, as well as to provide training needed to enable workers to take advantage of these technologies. As a result, those firms’ tax professionals may be falling behind on digital readiness.

One thing is clear: Tax professionals are at the forefront of change, so they must embrace innovation and remain agile to keep pace with the evolving regulations and technologies that impact their work on a daily basis. To do that, their employer must provide training and development opportunities that will help them adapt to a tech-driven workplace, where people and machines work together seamlessly. 

People as drivers of
tax managed services

Many finance and tax leaders acknowledge that it’s challenging to provide digital upskilling and career progression opportunities in their current operating model. That’s why even some of the largest tax departments are taking advantage of a new approach, one in which they transfer the majority of their workforce to a tax managed services delivery model.

This is not outsourcing, which hands over non-strategic parts of the tax function’s work to an outside organisation, whose professionals may not have in-depth knowledge of your company’s tax needs. This is insourcing, in which key tax employees join an organisation whose core business is tax. There, these professionals continue to work primarily on their company’s tax needs, while having access to the specialised skills, technology, and a globally connected network of colleagues that a tax-focused provider can offer.

Adding up the
benefits for your people

The benefits of tax managed services include cost-effectiveness, advanced technology, a shift in people management responsibilities, and improved focus on the core business. This approach also offers benefits to the tax professionals who have worked tirelessly with you for years.

When your tax professionals move to a company where the core mission is taxes and the tax function is a core competency of the business, their development and progression become a top priority. They have access to the latest technology and upskilling opportunities, which can boost their career and development prospects. 

Because career development includes providing opportunities to work with similarly situated organisations, the tax managed services model maintains the connection between the newly onboarded tax professionals and their former employer, strengthening established relationships and in-depth knowledge. This supports a seamless transition to the new tax model for both the company and its people. 

Finally, since tax professionals move to the managed services provider voluntarily, that provider has an incentive to clearly understand workers’ career goals, offer well-defined opportunities for advancement, provide supportive training and upskilling, and have a robust onboarding program. Tax professionals who have been onboarded into a tax managed services group should be excited by the new experiences available to them, and their work should provide the right balance of challenges and rewards.

Making the best choice
for your company

Even though the tax managed services model is expected to grow in the coming years, it’s not the right move for every tax organisation — or for every individual within the tax function. Some companies will choose a different approach: building a tax function of the future in-house.

However, many companies don’t have the capabilities, budget, or desire to transform their tax function. These organisations may find that the tax managed services model is the best choice for them — and their people.

To find out more about whether tax managed services is right for your company, visit the PwC Insourced Solutions for Tax (IST) website.

Contributor Doug Thomas


Doug Thomas

Doug is a partner at PwC US and the PwC Insourced Solutions for Tax (IST) leader. 

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