Q&A: KPMG’s Jeff LeSage,
Vice Chairman, Tax Services, U.S.
Jeff LeSage drives the strategic vision and direction of almost 5,500 partners and
professionals across all tax disciplines—federal, international, and state and local,
as well as specialty practices such as mergers and acquisitions, economic and valuation services, and global mobility services. Before his current position, Jeff served
as the U.S. national managing partner for KPMG’s Tax practice as well as the East
regional managing partner for Tax. He also held the area managing partner role for
KPMG’s Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions from 2003–2008. LeSage sat down
with ALM Intelligecne’s Gabe Walle, an analyst, Financial Consulting Research, to
discuss the market, the firm and the future.
: In last year’s edition of
your online tax publication, CTO Insights,
there is mention of the growing trend of
having a “technology leader” in the tax
function. Can you describe how this trend
has evolved over the past year?
LeSage: This trend has only accelerated.
Not only are companies hiring technology leaders within Tax; more and more,
we are also seeing entire Tax Process
and Technology (TPT) groups embedded
within the tax organization.
We’re seeing much greater awareness
among our clients and at other companies of the need for and benefits related to
having a technology leader for tax. This
is especially true for companies that are
beginning what we call “the technology
journey” in tax. Traditionally, the size of a
company and its tax function has dictated
the amount of direct technology support
for the tax function.
The responsibilities of CTOs are
only becoming more complex. There is
a growing recognition that the level of
operational precision demanded of the
tax function and the need to find greater
efficiencies in the tax department itself
require resources within the tax organi-
zation that excel in the use of technology
and operational processes.
Specialized knowledge in specific tax
applications, such as compliance and reporting applications, fixed asset applications, and related applications typically
comes from someone who was historically
a tax subject matter expert and has transitioned into this tax technology role. On the
other hand, general technology support for
data acquisition, workflow, web support,
document management, and the like could
come from someone who has been a deep
technology expert and is now applying that
skill to the tax function.
In this rapidly evolving environment,
companies are realizing that tax professionals with a traditional education and
background may not excel at these skills.
Embedding TPT resources within the tax
organization enhances a company’s ability
to capture these efficiencies and positions
the tax function to integrate more effectively with other stakeholders such as corporate accounting and IT.
: How are companies
incorporating tax data and tax issues
into broader business discussions such as
strategy and risk?