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La Trobe Business School

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“Where will the tax jobs be in 2020?”

Mark Morris La Trobe Business School Professor of Practice
By Mark Morris

It’s a vexing question for those planning a career in tax.

In my 30 plus years in the profession I have never seen it face so many challenges simultaneously.

The most obvious change is of course digital disruption.

In part this is because the automatic exchange of data is about to balloon as information is transferred in real time as computers talk to each other in a common language using standard business reporting.

But it is also because of the investment being made around the world by Governments and business to effectively leverage their use of big data to make more informed decisions. This is even extending to the development of cognitive computing systems such as IBM’s ‘Watson’ system which can be applied to analyse unstructured data to provide answers to specific questions.

As a corollary much of the traditional tax compliance and process work will gradually diminish as data is collected, exchanged and analysed differently.

However, there are an array of other impending changes including, amongst others, a more informed and savvy public; greater cross border transactions as part of a more integrated world economy; increased offshoring especially of compliance work; more complex tax laws to prop up increasingly competitive tax regimes; a growing reliance on consumption taxes worldwide to provide a more stable revenue base; and an evolving international digital economy where labour, finance, and knowhow are mobile to an unprecedented degree.

Given this mix no-one can predict with absolute certainty where the tax jobs are going to be in 2020.

Nonetheless I believe there are some clear pointers as to how you can best plan a career in tax.

Firstly, the importance of being able to analyse big data in a meaningful way is becoming rapidly crucial to both revenue authorities and professional firms of all sizes.

From the ATO’s perspective it is their growth area as witnessed by the recent creation of their Smarterdata business unit which is not only focussed on analysing data but challenging paradigms as to how the ATO conducts its operations.

Increased globalisation has also heightened the need for businesses of all sizes to be transfer pricing compliant and develop defensible positions based on finding the most comparable data.

Accordingly, tax professionals wishing to augment their tax technical skills by developing business analytics expertise could well consider enrolling in a course such as the Master of Business Analytics and Graduate Diploma in Business Analytics run by La Trobe University’s Business School as the combination of such skills will be in high demand in coming years.

Secondly, if compliance work goes down rest assured the taxation laws will not become any easier.

Whilst many talk about deregulation the tax rules have only become more complex especially for governments worldwide struggling to plug a revenue shortfall.

One only has to witness the complexity of our general anti-avoidance provisions to realise how inordinately complex our tax system has become particularly the recent amendments which will supposedly crack down on international profit shifting.

Going forward what clients will require of their advisers is the ability to work with them in disseminating such complexity and providing viable commercial solutions.

Accordingly, the way in which tax is taught at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level must radically change so that students not only absorb the complexity of the tax law but develop the interpersonal skills to service clients and build referral networks in a more global economy.

This is one of the key reasons why blended learning is being introduced by the Business School as it is encouraging students to not only develop better analytical capacities but also to work in teams to collaboratively resolve issues just like they will be required to do in the workplace.

Finally, whilst the future is daunting in some respects it is critical to remember that accountants repeatedly top the list of most trusted adviser to clients. If you are overwhelmed with change so are your clients and if you need to adapt to changing circumstances so will many of them.

Keeping your clients close will be more important than ever before as will the need to provide timely, accurate and value added services and the willingness to be adaptive and agile.

Mark Morris is a Professor of Practice in Taxation at La Trobe University’s Business School where he teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate taxation and actively contributes to broader industry engagement initiatives between the Business School and the tax profession and other key stakeholders.

Mark also Co-Chaired the ATO’s ‘Future of the Tax Profession 2016’ working group with Colin which comprises senior representatives from the ATO, professional bodies, software developers and practitioners concerning the implementation of the ATO’s standard business reporting initiative.

He has over 30 years experience in senior tax roles in chartered accounting, industry and professional bodies including his former long-term role as Senior Tax Counsel with CPA Australia.

 

Tourism and Hospitality International Study Program – THS3ISP – Study Tour to Vietnam

Students from Hanu, Bundoora and Bendigo campuses

by Paul Strickland

The recipients of the New Colombo Mobility Grant meeting with General Manager of Vinh Hung Resorts, Mr Han. L-R: Paul Strickland, Scott Dickson, Taila Howden, Mr Han, Loren Mosetter, Simon Jacobs, Monica Hodgkinson, Sarah Cook

Paul Strickland and Monica Hodgkinson led a delegation of twenty-one tourism, hospitality and event management students and staff from Bundoora and Bendigo campuses to Vietnam for a two-week study tour in June/July 2017. This annual program included two Auslan translators to accompany Natalie Carrie, a profoundly deaf student that was a first for La Trobe. Support and funding was obtained from Vicdeaf, La Trobe University Equity and Diversity (thank you Sally Freeman) and La Trobe Business School. Additionally, five students were fully funded by New Colombo Mobility grants of $3000.00 each and $1500 for staff that aims to bridge the gap in trade between Australia and South-East Asia.

The objective of the study tour was to examine and observe the cultural, social and environment aspects as a tourist, the impacts of government policy and the legacy of war. Students were strongly encouraged to try all pre-ordered food, partake in cooking classes, meet high level management and fully immerse themselves in the culture. Vietnam has a very ‘dark’ history due to its strategic location between China and western societies therefore is an ideal case study for political, cultural and touristic examination.

The assessment tasks include a case study relating to war and ethics, a daily reflective journal, a formal report evaluating the differences between the hotel and restaurant standards of Australia and Vietnam and a group presentation based on photo journal on a given topic. The study tour includes all flights, accommodation, three meals daily, activities, entrance fees, bottled water, buses, guides, drivers, footmen, and tips for approximately $2800.00.

The study tour started in Melbourne and continued to Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay and Hanoi. The tour visited Hanu (Hanoi University) and where we met with eleven local students studying at La Trobe University who live on campus. Conversations focused on the differences between Bundoora, Bendigo and Hanu campus life. We also had site visits at local resorts, restaurants and a private ceremony for the fallen Vietnamese and Australian soldiers on the original battlefield.

The evaluation forms are extremely positive and students have indicated a willingness to be ambassadors for La Trobe and their courses at Open Days, in classrooms and other promotional opportunities. Although it is a very full itinerary and extremely tiring towards the end, feedback included ‘it has helped me with my tourism and hospitality related studies’ and ‘so many great sites/places visited and amazing food in all restaurants’ and finally, ‘10/10’.

It was recently announced that this tourism and hospitality international study program has secured a further ten New Colombo Mobility grants of $3000.00 each and $3000.00 for teaching staff totally $33,000 to travel to Vietnam in 2018. We have added Van Lang University on the itinerary for a site tour and presentation in their department of tourism plus a NGO to see the impact of charity work. Having government funded support through student grants makes it possible for low-socio economic and high performing academic students have an opportunity to participate which we wholeheartedly welcome.

LBS Events Management Student completes placement at Disney: “I really felt that Disney helped me to grow my confidence and strengthen my communication skills.”

By Jessica Guirdanella

After graduating high school, I realised my love for helping people and making them smile. Volunteering was the way I found to incorporate this into my everyday life. I volunteer for multiple corporations, including several non-profit ones that have helped my gain experience within my field of study, Business Events Management/ Marketing (La Trobe University). Through this, I learnt I was a practical hands-on learner and could grow my skills when I was working in and outside my field assisting in new projects. I would always be open minded in trying new tasks.

Interning at Disney

In October of 2015, I applied for a Cultural Exchange Program sponsored by the Walt Disney Company. After an interview and a long wait, I received the wonderful news that I had been chosen to be a Cast Member at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Participating in the Internship meant that I would delay finishing my current university course by a year, although to work for Disney was always a dream.

On the program, I was given the role as a Life Guard at a Disney Resort. This meant that people’s safety was my responsibility every day. Professionally, I found myself in many interesting situations. However, this never stopped me to create Magic for all the guests. Making people smile is something I live by and at Disney I was able to go above and beyond in my role to create that happiness. Whether it was getting a child balloons for their birthday or for conquering the ‘scary’ slide, surprising families with the unexpected and having a positive conversation with someone was a great aspect of the work.

Being a Cast Member for one of the largest and most well-known companies worldwide taught me many things. I learnt the ins-and-outs of what it takes to run such a large company. I was surrounded by amazing fellow Cast Members, coordinators and a leadership team that was always assisting their cast members so they could excel in their role. I was extremely grateful when I learnt that I was getting trained in one of my dream roles: Resort Activities. This allowed me to put my skills in working with children to use. I would get to run activities and make sure all kids where smiling and happy!

Half way though my program it was announced that I was receiving a Quarterly award. This award is awarded to Cast Members who perform their role at exceptional standards. I really felt that Disney helped me to grow my confidence and strengthen my communication skills.

What I Learned

One of the things I’ve learnt in my time with the Disney Company is that you’ll always get the work you put in back in another rewarding way. The experience also taught me how important it is to make people smile. I made it my goal to go into work every day with a positive attitude, and got nothing but positive in return. Of course, there were situations where my day was turned upside down, but I always used these situations as something I could learn from.

While overseas, I was sent the news that I had been nominated for a Victorian Young Achievers Award within the leadership category. I was recognised for my work in the community. It was extremely special and has inspired me to continue doing what I’m doing.

If I could give anyone advice, I would tell them to follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you what path to take in life, create your own. If things get difficult, stay positive, find a solution and take it as a learning experience, help others and never forget to Smile.

If you’re considering volunteering, whether it’s to help you gain experience in your field of study or wanting to play a part in making a difference in your community, DO IT! Volunteering is a great way to network and get to know people who are like mined, where you’re assisting with an operation as well as building your own skills.

Gaining work experience is something we encourage our students to complete during their studies. We offer several possibilities for students to gain experience as part of their degree.

All LBS School’s Human Resources Degrees now AHRI accredited!

La Trobe Business School AHRI accreditation

Recently, La Trobe Business School received notification that the Master of Management Online (Human Resource Management), has officially been accredited from 2018 until 2020 by the Australian Human Resources Institute.

What does it mean to be a good HR manager?

According to AHRI, working in HR requires more than just good people skills. When evaluating a university’s course, AHRI’s National Accreditation Committee (NAC) focusses on seven key AHRI competencies for tertiary HR management courses. These are set out in their ‘HR Model of Excellence’. The competencies are based on current trends in the industry and university landscape and summarize the key aspects that drive a good HR manager. Being a good HR manager means having the following capabilities:

  1. Being business driven and having the ability to align people management with business objectives and the external environment,
  2. Setting the HR vision for the organisation and driving to success,
  3. Identifying and responding to stakeholder demands, as well as managing relationships,
  4. Building organisational capability through high performing people,
  5. Exercising influence and providing HR advice to achieve objectives,
  6. Applying expert HR knowledge to deliver value to the business,
  7. Facilitating change in response to internal and external operating environments.

AHRI accreditation is granted to eligible tertiary institutions by the organisation’s NAC, after an intensive reviewing process based on this HR Model of Excellence. Through these application procedures, the AHRI and the NAC strive to maintain a high standard for HR courses nationally and internationally.

Regional brain drain worsens

An Australian-first study has revealed regional students across every state and territory are turning to metropolitan universities at an unprecedented rate.

The new study, funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) at Curtin University, and led by La Trobe University researchers, LBS’s Dr Buly Cardak and Matt Brett and Dr Mark Bowden of Swinburne University, shows the number of regional students across Australia moving to a city location to study increased by more than 76% between 2008 and 2014.

“We found the growth in regional students relocating to metropolitan universities far outstrips growth of regional students taking up higher education places in either their home town or another regional location. However, regional students studying in regional locations are still a majority, and are attracted to a small number of larger regional centres,” La Trobe Business School’s Associate Professor Buly Cardak said.

“This growth was particularly strong with more flexible modes of study. We found mature aged students, students with disabilities, or those wanting to study part-time are increasingly turning to city campuses.”

The researchers used enrollment data drawn from the Department of Education and Training from 2008-2014 which uniquely classifies students as regional based on their residential location when they started university.

“Previous information only accounted for students’ current home addresses. Using this new information we can see that the number of regional students enrolling in university has grown by almost 39% over this period.”

“This is in stark comparison to the conventional wisdom based on existing data, which shows the growth rate in regional student numbers is slightly lower than the rate of growth in metropolitan student numbers”

The report also indicated that regional students likely to face financial constraints are no less likely to attend university, and are instead displaying a greater likelihood of graduation.

“Our findings turn a lot of commonly held perceptions about regional students on their head, and is likely to have significant implications for the sector.”

“For example, how might the Government prioritise funding allocations, now that we know an increasing number of regional students are instead choosing metropolitan campuses? Do they invest more in the city, providing infrastructure and support for migrating students or do they increase incentives for students to stay in or return to regional locations where skilled graduates are in short supply?”

NCSEHE Director Professor Sue Trinidad said the report offers a new perspective on regional participation and paves the way for future discussion and policy advancements.

“The findings of this report are positive. It provides an evidence base for what is really happening with regional students accessing higher education. The issue now is the challenge of attracting graduates back to our regional areas, and the associated policy implications,” Professor Trinidad said.

The report, Regional student Participation and Migration, is available from the NCSEHE website.

Editor’s note:

The NCSEHE aims to inform public policy design and implementation and institutional practice to improve the higher education participation and success for marginalised and disadvantaged people.

La Trobe University is Victoria’s third oldest University. Established in 1971 it is now firmly entrenched in the world’s top 400 universities. It currently has more than 36,000 students and is the largest provider of higher education in regional Victoria.

 

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