The next 12 months are set to be as just as exciting as the last – all the hard work we’ve put in this year has meant we’re in an invaluable position to be able to deliver our ambitious plans for 2024.
But outside of Tax Systems, what are the key trends and developments that should be top of the agenda? This is the question I asked myself, and my colleagues Russell Gammon, our Chief Solutions Officer, and Richard Sampson, our Chief Revenue Officer.
Continued economic uncertainty will continue to impact businesses
From my perspective, certainly, one of the biggest challenges we are all facing is out of our control. The UK has been navigating a period of significant uncertainty, beginning with Brexit, and further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, businesses are grappling with the challenges of inflation and elevated costs, further intensified by conflicts in Europe. This turbulent environment seems unlikely to stabilise in 2024, prompting a shift in business strategies. Historically, businesses have benefited from affordable debt, but this era is changing. Leaders must now prioritise fundamental business practices: maintaining balanced finances, setting clear objectives, and operating within the organisation’s means. It’s crucial for businesses to reassess their plans, focusing on core markets and objectives necessary for survival. In this demanding economic landscape, those who adapt and transform their operations will likely thrive, while those who ignore these realities risk faltering.
Generative AI changing the game for the finance and tax industry
For Russell Gammon, our Chief Solutions Officer here at Tax Systems, AI is the main game in town. Throughout 2023 he has spoken to journalists and conference audiences about the transformation it is bringing to the tax industry, and he sees this intensifying in 2024.
“2023 has undoubtedly been the era of generative AI for tax and finance, as well as the whole world, but 2024 will be the year that we start to properly utilise it – and reap the full benefits. ChatGPT will go from being a fun toy to play around with, to the foundation of business applications and products. We have already seen businesses enhance existing products with AI but over the next 12 months we will see it add real commercial value as whole new products are built upon the technology.
In finance and accounting, this will involve generative AI taking over large parts of mundane admin tasks. Without the burden of spending hours on data entry and analysis, tax professionals can simply review the outcomes and apply their tax knowledge to the data set. Focusing on these higher value roles.
not only increases efficiency and productivity, but it also improves job satisfaction. It allows junior team members to use the skills and knowledge that they have gained throughout years of studying and training, and subsequently makes tax a more enticing career for the graduates of today. The rise of the ‘AI co-worker’ will be the key trend of 2024.”
Pillar Two will make itself known
Russell is also focused on the changes coming in the next 12 months due to Pillar Two and what finance teams should be doing to prepare for these changes.
He says, “2023 has been a surprising year for Pillar 2. The developments of the regulation haven’t gone as many expected, but for once, not in a bad way! Historically with legislation, we’ve seen plenty of delays and the compliance date gets pushed back. But with Pillar 2, there have been no material amendments and no delays announced in the UK, which have been particularly surprising considering the significant ramifications it will have on some organisations’ bottom line.
We are now two and a half years away from the first Pillar 2 filings in the UK, with organisations having to do full calculations for the year from December 2023 – 2024. Over the next 12 months, we will see organisations going full steam ahead on preparations – a testament to how difficult this legislation will be to meet. We will likely see a huge peak in demand for software that handles Pillar 2 calculations, and it will be high on the agenda of tax departments across the world. The time for back-pedalling has passed, and 2024 needs to be the time for organisations to focus on Pillar 2 compliance to avoid significant errors and consequences in the future.”
The war for talent
It’s not all about tech, the industry relies on the talent and experience of its people. This has been a challenge in 2023 and looks set to play out in 2024.
Richard Sampson, our Chief Revenue Officer, remains optimistic that the industry can continue to attract the best and the brightest with some careful thought and investment.
“Like many industries, there’s a shortage of both entry-level and experienced talent in tax. But the solution to this is far from easy. To entice and retain talent, we need to make tax attractive as an industry. Key to this will be aligning tax roles to the next generation’s expectations. Gen-Z don’t just want a job, they want to have a purpose and be part of something bigger. Tax is such an important part of society – it funds public services, such as schooling and healthcare, that would be unaffordable for many without it. Positioning a career in tax as contributing to these bigger purposes could make a huge difference to how it is viewed by the next generation and make it a more attractive, meaningful career choice.
Tax also needs technology to attract talent. Technology isn’t a ‘nice to have’ for the digitally native Gen-Z, but a make-or-break component. Organisations must invest in the latest systems to aid their employees, reducing their workload, removing repetitive tasks, and making their job more interesting. Shrouded in recessionary doubt and blinded by the AI spotlight, organisations have barely scratched the surface in 2023. Next year, the tax industry as a whole – corporates, professional service firms, regulatory bodies, and the government – must make more effort to make tax a more attractive career path to the graduates of 2024, to ensure talent and ideas come into the industry at an accelerated rate.”
So, there we have it – 2024 will not be without challenges, but if we approach it with pragmatism and consideration, embrace changes, and invest in the right tech and the right people, it will also be a fruitful year that will bring many rewards.