In Thomson Reuters' just published 2022 Tax Professionals Survey, we see how tax industry practitioners are dealing with their clients’ shifting priorities amid a still chaotic environment
It’s unsurprising that tax professionals like many other professional service professions throughout the pandemic have been riding a rollercoaster of events and emotions over the past 20 months or so.
In early 2020 — pre-pandemic times that seem longer ago than the calendar indicates — tax and accounting firms were primed to bring in new clients, broaden their services, hire new people, and focus on what was expected to be a period of extended and rapid growth.
Then, of course, that didn’t happen as the pandemic hit and most tax firms went into survival mode, trying to help their panicking clients deal with a flood of new tax and regulatory challenges even as they fought to keep their own doors open.
While the widening availability of vaccines helped tamp down the worst of the pandemic and gave hope that 2021 would bring a swift economic rebound, new virus variants, supply-chain issues, inflation, and other issues have derailed full economic recoveries in the US and around the world.
To explore this developing situation further, Thomson Reuters has published the 2022 Tax Professionals Survey report, based on a survey of more than 500 employees from tax firms in countries all over the world. Almost half (49%) of those surveyed were from the United States, and the rest were from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Latin America, and elsewhere.
Also, respondents were divided into three categories based on their roles within the tax profession: i) owner or solo proprietor; ii) non-owner leadership role, such as a partner, director, or manager; and iii) non-leadership role, such as an administrator. Overall, 60% of respondents were owners or solo proprietors, but in firms with 30 or more employees; 15% were owners, and the rest were split evenly between non-owners or managers and administrative staff.
Helping clients navigate rough waters
The report shows that throughout this chaotic time, tax professionals have continued helping clients navigate the pandemic’s many challenges, while learning the critical lesson that their professionalism and expert services are more valued — and valuable — than ever before in the eyes of clients.
More importantly, the report demonstrates how tax & accounting firms found that their ability to deliver their services was actually improved by the sudden shift to remote working — which, interestingly, also increased many tax advisors’ level of job satisfaction. Further, the report illustrates how those firms that sought to adapt and improve their efficiency during the pandemic by investing in technological infrastructure, process re-engineering, or supportive training are now in an excellent position to take advantage of the opportunities arising from expected economic recoveries around the world.
Having absorbed the lessons of the pandemic, tax professionals are now heading into 2022 with a sense of optimism similar to that of early 2020. The difference is that many firms have taken to hear the lessons of the recent crisis and the technological reliance and the change in priorities that the global pandemic forced upon the industry.
Prior to the pandemic, for example, revenue growth and business development were top priorities at most tax & accounting firms. However, as our new survey shows, responding global tax professionals cited hiring and developing top-quality talent as the top strategic priority going into 2022. And because an accounting firm is only as good as its people, this re-focus on human capital is a positive development for both the industry and those professionals who work in it.
Now, just as in early 2020, tax professionals have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future as the industry moves into 2022. If the post-pandemic recovery can continue without much disruption, our research shows that demand for tax and busine advisory services of all kinds should continue to expand, leading to ample opportunities for tax & accounting firms to diversify and grow.
You can download the Thomson Reuters 2022 Tax Professionals Survey report, here.