Skip to main content


Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Training the tax specialist

After the recent passage of the GOP’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the typically-bland topic of taxation is once again at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and continues to dominate media headlines. This has resulted in a direct increase in interest in tax expertise, and many young professionals eying their futures in the marketplace are coming to realize that careers as tax specialist are sounding more alluring now than ever before.

So, how should your company be preparing itself to educate the new generation of tax specialist, and what key pitfalls can you avoid to ensure you don’t get beat out by the competition?

The first thing that accountants trying to train a new tax specialist should understand is that, when it comes to developing your company’s human capital, your employee’s well-being must come first. This doesn’t mean you can’t be strict with your application process, of course, nor that you should be forgiving of budding specialist who repeatedly mess up to the point where they deserve reprimanding, but rather to emphasize that any training process that isn’t focused on bettering your workers will be a failure from the get-go. So, what can you do to ensure you don’t flub the training process?

For starters, you should understand how important it is that beginners to the profession have a mentor to rely on for advice; if you’re expecting your new tax specialist to pick everything up on their own, you’re pretty much dooming them to failure from the start. Consider pairing up your rookies with your veterans, which won’t only help them get the skills they need, but will also increase the personal bonds between your employees who will be working closely together, and you’ll be starting off on the right foot when it comes to mastering the training process.

Teaching your veterans how to be effective mentors isn’t enough, however; you’ll also need to equip your budding students with the tools they need to succeed. That’s why accounting firms today trying to recruit the savviest tax talent shouldn’t stop investing after they’ve picked up the shiniest, latest gadget, but should continuously be investing in training programs that take place throughout the entirety of the year. There’s no point in shelling out the bucks needed to retrofit your office with the best tools and software if your new tax specialists don’t know how to properly use them, after all.

Training new tax specialist often starts early, too, meaning you should be surveying colleges and even aspiring youngsters who have demonstrated an interest in the field in order to start developing a talent pipeline early. Teach young students what it takes to become a tax specialist, and they’ll be more likely than not to continue chasing it as a career path, rather than moving on to a new field because they’re unaware of what they’ll need to do from an early age to succeed.

If you want a new tax specialist who actually knows what he or she is doing when it comes to home loans, you’ll need to ensure they’re equipped with the insider knowledge needed to make it in today’s accounting industry, which is undergoing a fundamental change from the top down. Talk to your new specialist about which journals they have subscriptions to, for starters, and consider paying for access to elite publications yourself so that they don’t have to worry about taking a pay cut to remain up to date in their industry, too. This may incur additional costs on your firm, but there’s no price that’s too high to pay for educated workers who know the ins and outs of the industry thanks to the extensive publications that they can rely upon for info.

Teaching your new specialist which websites are the best to peruse for new information, too, is an invaluable step towards ensuring your new workers are getting started with the right foot forward. This ties into your next and final step, educating them about the disruptive technologies that are reshaping the field of accounting, and can’t be skipped if you want to sufficiently train your new specialist to the point where they’re valuable for years to come, rather than mere months.

Be as realistic as possible during all steps of the training process, which may necessitate digging up actual old tax returns done for previous clients, amongst other things. If you’re not drilling them with real-world examples, your new specialists won’t even gain the skills needed to make it in today’s competitive market. Above all else, be prepared to pay the big bucks for the best talent; it’s a crowded field out there, after all, and by being willing to spend more than your competitors, you’ll ensure that only the best tax specialists walk through your front doors.

If you would like to contribute an article to Cornell React, please email us.
Skip to toolbar