COLLABORATION

Digitising tax and accounting studies: A KPMG, Thomson Reuters academic partnership

SOURCE: Ed Jones/AFP
As more industries become fully digitised, it is important for students to keep up to date with the application of technology.

Audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG, Thomson Reuters and three American universities worked together to develop an interactive and immersive classroom case study that allowed accounting students to be better prepared for the digital workforce. 

The case study, which was successfully implemented across tax courses in Bentley University, San Diego State University and the University of Miami in 2019, provided tax and accounting students with the necessary and most relevant digital skills to ensure they were ready for the technological shift within the accounting industry. 

This study was also presented via a live demo at the midyear meeting of the American Taxation Association earlier this year on 29 February 2020. Following this success, KPMG and Thomson Reuters plan to expand this initiative to additional institutions in the next couple of months. 

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Looking at one of this initiative’s success stories, Bentley University professor of accountancy Tracy Noga explained that the students are really excited to apply cutting-edge technology to work on a challenging case study in the classroom. 

“With the support of KPMG’s tax professionals, as well as Thomson Reuters’ ONESOURCE Tax Provision software, university courses will better align with the skills and competencies that are now expected of tax and accounting professionals in this era of technological disruption,” she said. 

The case study that was provided to students in these tax and accounting courses draws upon the real-life industry experience of the professors at the participating universities along with expert input from KPMG professionals who work extensively on tax provisions. 

KPMG
Students will be able to adapt better to future workforce practices involving technology. Source: Fred Dufour/AFP.

This initiative makes use of Thomson Reuters’s ONESOURCE platform, a cutting-edge tax provision tool developed by the firm. 

Together with tax professionals from KPMG’s Ignition centres, the firm’s technology-focused centres, the providers ensured a seamless implementation of the case study data and other relevant materials collected into the platform. 

“Advances in software, automation and artificial intelligence are enabling tax professionals to spend more time on higher-level problem-solving earlier in their careers,” said KPMG tax principal and executive sponsor for the firm’s Thomson Reuters alliance Steve Fortier. 

“Professionals that have deep tax technical skills alongside strong technology and analytic skills are increasingly valuable to companies, and this initiative is all about accelerating the development of those skills.”

Thanks to the new coursework, tax and accounting students will be able to prepare tax provisions in Excel-based models, create tax provisions in ONESOURCE, and develop a foundation of tax provision/compliance cycles which are all vital skills and knowledge that will prove to be an added asset for these students as they enter the workforce in the future. 

This case study collaborative initiative is the latest development in KPMG’s partnerships with academia to better train professionals for the future of work. 

Back in 2016, for instance, KPMG launched its Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics Program at several leading universities across the country. 

This programme, which also offers a Master of Taxation and Data & Analytics degree as another option at several universities, is designed to bring a data and analytics-focussed curriculum to the classroom to better adapt students to today’s complex and data-centric environment. 

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“With rapid advancements in technology, tax is being totally reimagined,” added KPMG National Managing Partner in Tax Will Williams.

“It’s no longer a back-office function where professionals are busy on their calculators from dusk ‘til dawn. Professionals armed with tax knowledge plus technology and business skills are going to have seats at the leadership table to advise on the strategy and future of the company.”