Canada's Best Accountants
Canada’s accountants are important to the financial industry. For an accounting firm to survive, they must employ the best of the best. With the size of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) currently comprised of 77,000 chartered accountants and 12,000 students, it’s clear there is heavy competition. To be at the top of the accounting industry you not only have to have the experience but also the expertise to back your performance. Business Review Canada is taking a look this month at the top Canadian accountants and the firms they help build.
Meyers Norris Penny LLP
Daryl Ritchie, CEO of Meyers Norris Penny LLP (MNP), got his start in 1978 as an articling student at the firm and has stayed with MNP throughout his career. Holding many senior level executive positions within the firm, Ritchie served as Director of Tax Services, Director of Client Services and Regional Managing Partner for Southern Alberta. In 1998, Ritchie was promoted to CEO and has since led the firm in leadership and growth. Because of Ritchie’s hard work, MNP is now the seventh largest chartered accountancy and business advisory firm in Canada. Employing more than 2,500 in 50 offices across Canada, it’s clear Ritchie led MNP to new heights.
Deloitte & Touche LLP
Alan MacGibbon, Managing Partner and Chief Executive of Deloitte Canada, started with Deloitte & Touche’s predecessor firm, Touche Ross in 1978 and received his chartered accountant certification from the New Brunswick Institute in 1981. Holding prestigious positions throughout his career, MacGibbon became an audit partner in 1989, was leader of the consulting practice in Atlantic Canada in 1992, created the National Management Solutions business for Canada in 1996, became Group Managing Partner of the Growth and Markets Group in 2000 and in 2003 and 2004 was appointed Group Managing Partner for greater Toronto and elected Managing Partner and Chief Executive respectively. Clearly a wealth of experience behind him, MacGibbon was recognized as an expert in the accounting field when he was designated a “Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants” (FCA), the highest honour awarded to Ontario Chartered Accountants.
PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada LLP
Chris Clark, CEO and Canadian Senior Partner of PwC, has a thoroughly successful career. Starting at Queens University in Kingston and an MBA from the University of Toronto, Clark is well versed in finance. Practicing in areas of valuations, corporate finance and large corporate restructurings, Clark’s prestige in these areas is what led to his appointment to partner in 1987. By 1995, Clark was made national managing partner of the Financial Advisory Services practice. His success led to an appointment of CEO, where Clark now leads a firm of more than 4,300 partners and staff. As PwC has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Clark believes this proves that the company is getting things right in strategy and focus, specifically on the development of employees through good and tough times.
Bill Thomas, CEO and Senior Partner of KPMG Canada, started his career with a bachelor of Science from the University of British Columbia in 1989. Thomas began at KPMG in 1990 in Audit practice. Quickly recognized, Thomas soon after moved up to become Audit Leader. Before appointment to CEO, Thomas was the Office Managing Partner for KPMG’s Greater Vancouver Area Office where he oversaw 800 employees. Appointed to CEO in 2009, Thomas is now head of the 4,500 employee company. Widely recognized for his successful career, Thomas was awarded Business in Vancouver’s Forty Under 40 award in 2002. In 2010, under Thomas’s direction, KMPG saw marked improvement—growth at double digit rates, specifically in performance and technology, indirect tax and transfer pricing practices.
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.