Earlier this year, I ran a poll on LinkedIn, seeking to understand how professionals view their professional bodies. They’re such a big part of our professional lives, from our exams to our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and our livelihoods. And, naturally, while we pay ongoing fees to them, often annually, our relationship with and expectations of them change as we mature in our careers.
Our relationships with our professional bodies
In addition to the membership fees we pay, some of us also volunteer our time to help shape our professions, perhaps by contributing to research on professional working parties and/or committees and/or presenting our insights for free at professional conferences or webinars. I was personally quite surprised when I learnt how small the percentage of a profession’s membership that volunteers generally is. Similarly, the percentage of those who vote in elections of council members is low… These point to a significant proportion of professionals who are disengaged, and only do what they are required to do to maintain their professional designation (such as meeting any minimum CPD requirements). It also amazes me how a substantial number of professionals kick into panic mode weeks or days before the deadline, grasping at content that will allow them to confirm their compliance before pushing CPD to the back of their minds for the next cycle.
On the other end, there are those who volunteer significant amounts of their time (perhaps supported by their employers) for their profession over years. Their dedication and ability to deliver on everything they’re involved in is phenomenal. A few of Protagion’s professional mentors have fulfilled roles as presidents/chairs of their professional bodies, or have contributed to the council / leadership team, so have first-hand experience.
Read more for the poll results and my reflections on them, exploration of the evolving role of professional bodies and examples of their forward-looking initiatives, and links to profession-specific pages we’ve put together for you sharing example career paths, selected mentors, and further resources for members of each profession.
One of our professional mentors, Hafsa Daware, is an expert in tax as well as a Chartered Accountant. Earlier this year, she wrote an article on careers in the Tax Profession for the IntegriTAX section of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ (SAICA) Accountancy SA magazine. She describes her profession as “lucrative, inspiring, challenging and versatile”, writing that she has “always had a passion for tax, and value[s] the breadth and depth of what I have been able to learn over the years from all the disciplines that I have been privileged to work with”. Such cross-functional collaboration is fundamental as “understanding a business from all angles is critical to effectively advise and guide it from a tax point of view”.
Read more for Hafsa’s thoughts on the skills required of tax professionals, the wider understanding of commercial aspects you can build through working on tax matters, the areas and roles tax professionals can work in, and some lessons from the business and tax authority perspectives.