The LCN Tax Interview: David Mackay

Many thanks indeed to David Mackay for participating in this interview. David is the Group Tax & Treasury Manager at SThree PLC.

Why did you get into tax?
As a child I used to watch the soap opera Brookside with my mum. The only character I ever identified with was an accountant (played by Amanda Burton). Since then, I wanted to be an accountant. Scroll forward a few years, I’m working in a pub and meet an ex-Tax Inspector. One thing leads to another… Now that I’ve fulfilled my life’s ambition of becoming a Brookside character, I can reflect that the real reason I got into tax was that it suited me. The mixture of technical challenge and problem solving, with the ability to explain complex issues in a simple way, and (hopefully) provide great value to clients is hugely rewarding.

Who has been the most influential role model for your professional life?
I don’t think I could name one. There have been a few who have provided great support and encouragement. One that stands out is Margaret Ross, Grant Thornton Glasgow. She took a chance and gave me my first job, and then went on to spend her time training and trying (and through no fault of her own, mostly failing) to polish my rough edges.

What do you see as the biggest trend affecting the tax world over the next 10 years?
BEPS is too obvious isn’t it? What I’d like to see is an increased focus in targeting tax evaders and the black economy. If we could achieve a substantial increase in compliance, that would be a massive improvement in many areas. The UK is one of the top ranking countries on this front incidentally.

What is your pet hate when dealing with advisers?
Most I have dealt with are very fair. Price will of course always be an issue, but I have no truck in paying for good service. Just don’t stick me on the ‘dump code’ list!

In a movie of your life story, which actor would you like to play you?
Can only be Tim Robbins, who played Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption. This is of course the only movie in which a tax accountant is the hero! Why they don’t make more like this I’ll never know.

What would be your dream job if you didn’t work in tax?
Architect.

What is your biggest extravagance?
I’m a Scottish tax adviser, I don’t have extravagances!

What do you do to relax?
Gym. Wine. Backgammon. Not all at the same time of course. Also currently enjoying researching and taking photographs of the City. Not the financial side, just the architecture, streets, social history etc.

What is your favourite holiday destination?
This is virtually impossible to choose as it really is comparing apples and pears. Venice has fond memories as it’s where I got engaged.

What piece of advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
Get a mentor. In fact get two or three. Build as many business relationships as possible. Try and get on the coat tails of some really great senior people in your office to secure the flow of good work. The rest should fall into place.

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