Tax transformation-trends survey

Part two: Talent reimagined

Part two: Talent reimagined

In this second report of Deloitte’s tax transformation-trends survey series, we asked more than 300 tax and finance leaders for their perspectives about talent transformation. It’s a vital consideration because, as companies look past the pandemic, they’re asking their tax functions to play a bigger advisory role—with fewer resources, more responsibilities, and more flux in the working environment. In an era of constant change, leaders need to think differently to stay ahead of the competition.

Get ready to reimagine your tax function.


The future of tax talent

Rethinking the work, workforce, and workplace

As companies look beyond the pandemic, they’re asking their tax functions to play a bigger advisory role‒for example, providing strategic counsel on issues such as emerging digital business models and sustainable transformation. Tax leaders need to transform their technology infrastructures to free up team capacity, operate more efficiently, and use data more effectively. Meanwhile, all this change is happening during a global shift to remote and hybrid working. These trends have profound implications for the future of the tax function: how the work gets done, what skills the workforce needs, and how the workplace is defined.

Key insight 2: Tax workforce

How has the talent mix changed?

Tax leaders recognize their teams need entirely new technical skills, with data analytics (45%) and technology transformation (43%) at the top of their wish lists. However, these team members also need to flex their cross-business advisory (39%) and cross-business interfacing and education (35%) skills. This means tax leaders must upskill and diversify the roles on their teams to meet the rising demand to be business advisors.

Tax is leaving the tax department. We’re being pulled much closer into areas such as government relations and sustainability—it’s changing the balance of responsibilities for our team.

Mike Munoz, VP Tax and Treasurer, Suncor

Tax leaders are prioritizing these strategies to help their teams manage compliance workloads

Using automation and relying on shared service centres are the top choices for tax leaders looking to use lower-cost resource models for routine tax-complaince work.

The adoption of advanced technologies will allow us to create better insights for the divisions that we support. When a function asks us about the tax implications of a transaction they want to make, we can say to them: ‘You know what? We can see stuff that you can’t. And here are some insights that can drive your business and your profitability’.

Global head of tax, at a global bank

What companies are looking for is a beautiful unicorn who knows everything about tax and everything about technology.

Tim Rupert, Professor of Accounting, Northeastern University

The future of the tax workforce

The elusive tax unicorn
Developing more hybrid professionals means that tax and finance leaders need to think much differently when it comes to recruiting and professional development. The ideal tax professional will have a blend of technological, strategic advisory, and legislative specialist skills, and will aspire to grow in areas where they need to develop.

You need to go and hire [the data and technology specialists], but it will take time for them to become productive. And the best thing to do, in my view, is to partner them with business analysts who understand banking and the business lines, because it’s when they start to talk the same language that you get the real lift.

Global head of tax, at a global bank

Power pairings

Whichever route companies take to develop hybrid tax-technology professionals, it will take time. But few tax leaders can wait two or more years for this—their digital challenges are urgent. So, some are doing the next best thing: pairing technology specialists with business analysts or other specialists in the wider finance team to combine their expertise on specific projects.

Examples of pairings that work:

  1. Internal technology specialists with business analysts or others in finance.
  2. In-house tax specialists with tax-technology specialists from consulting firms or other third parties that are experienced in technology and transformation.
  3. Junior staff with analytics and software licences. Younger employees are digital natives who may have been introduced to data analytics and other technologies in university programs. They can bring more value when given the tools and opportunity.

You need to ensure that you don’t end up with the remote workforce becoming a disadvantaged employee group. There needs to be clarity about how they get visibility for strong performance and how opportunities and promotions are decided upon, among other things. You need to fully address these issues directly and transparently, and not just write them into corporate policy and hope that’s enough to effectively manage such a culture change.

Mike Munoz, VP Tax and Treasurer, Suncor

The main challenges of remote working for the tax department

A new paradigm for tax talent

The nature of tax work is changing. It’s no longer enough to be a master of one or multiple areas of tax; all team members should be at least conversant in data science and analytics.  Building a team with such an array of skills is a tall order—tax leaders need to think hard about the what, the who, and the where of their tax-operating model and how they’ll find the people to deliver on the objectives.

  1. Automating compliance and reporting work and/or migrating it out of tax to shared service centres and outsourcers, which frees up their talent to perform higher-value advisory work.

  2. Developing hybrid tax-technology professionals internally by encouraging tax specialists to master selected technology skills; this bypasses the imperative to hire ready-made professionals (who will not necessarily be widely available in the market) with this skill mix.

  3. Pairing their technology specialists with business analysts to address immediate tax challenges demanding technology solutions.

  4. Sourcing specialist tax-technology expertise from external consultants to execute specific projects or work longer-term in tandem with in-house specialists, in the process helping to develop the latter’s hybrid capabilities.

  5. Reconfiguring their teams more efficiently, recognizing that not all their resources need to be full-time employees. Some are finding it easier and more effective to buy access to external talent that has specialized tax-technology skills, rather than trying to build it internally by recruiting and training their own in-house teams.

  1. Upgrading team members’ advisory capabilities and communications skills, through training and other measures.

  2. Taking organizational steps to bring team members into closer proximity with other parts of the business.

  3. Devising ways of ensuring team cohesion, knowledge sharing and full data accessibility as remote and hybrid working regimes become the norm.

  4. Re-thinking which expertise is core to their business, deciding whether they need niche expertise in-house or whether they are better off buying access to it through external advisers who are specialized in the topic.

Reimagine your team’s tax talent experience

In the first report in our three-part Deloitte tax transformation-trends series, we explore how the tax department has reached a tipping point that’s forcing leaders to rethink their tax operating models. We discover in this second report that these changes have had a butterfly effect on the experience of those working in tax, and discuss how the tax function has not been immune to these external forces of change—and give some practical advice on what to do about it.

Tax transformation trends:

Talent reimagined


Explore tax talent content

At the heart of every tax and finance department is its people. Learn more about how you can augment your own resources to tap diverse, hard-to-hire skill sets and expertise—and decide if it is best to build these skills and competencies in-house or look externally to leverage specialized expertise when and where it is needed most.

An accelerated future for tax leaders

An accelerated future for tax leaders - Forbes Deloitte BrandVoice

Agile operating models and new technologies help corporate tax leaders to accelerate change within their tax departments.

The tax professional of the future

The management of tax

Discovering value and delivering confidence

With pressure coming from many directions—variable regulatory requirements, rapid changes in technology, data overload, and a looming shortage of talent—how is the tax function pursuing progress and managing pitfalls?

Tax outsourcing transformation planning

Tax transformation-trends survey

Part one: Operations in focus

New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value to their companies as the move toward business-model transformation accelerates.


Enabling a remote workforce in a tax-compliant way

As employers expand their workforce globally and continue to support remote work arrangements…


Preparing for the future of tax

See what roles that the individual, the organization, and the team will play in preparing for the future of tax.


Building the future-ready workforce

Unleash the potential of your organization and people

Insert Custom CSS fragment. Do not delete! This box/component contains code needed on this page. This message will not be visible when page is activated.

to activtae fullwidth component . Do not delete! This box/component contains JavaScript that is needed on this page. This message will not be visible when page is activated.

Did you find this useful?