Ru Lim, Senior Accountant at Rise High Accounting Solutions, says during her schooling in Malaysia, she would be allocated into the “science stream” which included subjects such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics. She never thought that accounting would be her choice of career.

“I always knew I wanted a career where I could educate and help people,” she says.

“As soon as I started working in the profession, I realised that there is a huge gap of knowledge in tax accounting in the Australian community, especially in the small business sector.

“New legislation is introduced almost every day, which can have huge impacts, especially for an average business.”

In November 2015, Ru made the leap from a full-time tax accounting role to start her own business with Rise High Accounting Solutions.

“I love that I never deal with the same thing over and over again,” she says.

“Things change all the time, whether the circumstances of your client, or changes in tax legislation.”

Tax pros develop great client relationships

Ru says that technology is slowly taking over repetitive tasks in major industries. In tax and accounting, compliance tasks are expected to be taken over by software and apps.

“However, I believe that clients still look to their accountant to give them financial and tax advice,” she explains.

“We model our business to maintain long term relationship with our clients. When we meet with new clients, we often talk about what their short and long term financial goals are.

“We will then customise our advice based on the needs and wants of each individual client and refer them to our trusted referral partners (e.g. lawyers, financial planners, mortgage brokers) to ensure we can help our clients achieve their goal in the most efficient way.”

Advice: don’t back down

Ru says that since she was a teenager, she has “seen and dealt with men being chosen to lead the team because they were viewed as more ‘charismatic’”.

“I have always felt that I’ve needed to work harder to earn my spot compared to men of the same qualification and experience,” she adds.

But she has a few tips for women starting out in tax.

“Ask a lot of questions, even if they sound silly,” she advises.

“Don't back down, even if people call you aggressive or loud because at the end of the day, you are responsible for your own career.

“Surround yourself with good people - in the workplace that means people who are willing to teach you and encourage you.

“Finally, read a lot! Subscribe to newsletters, tax updates. Attend workshops that increase your skills and knowledge,” she adds.

Work-life balance

Having work-life balance is extremely important to Ru but this has proved to be challenging as a business owner.

“Some days, especially during peak tax season, I struggle to find time to exercise or see my friends,” she admits.

However, she has learnt to accept that being a business owner means that she has to be flexible with her routine.

“Check in with yourself once in a while and be aware when you are pushing your limits,” she advises.

“Schedule in some down time with friends and family, or even just on your own."

 The Tax Institute is dedicated to supporting the career progression of women in the tax, accounting and legal professions. As the leading forum for Australia’s tax community, we are committed to representing our 12,000 members and the continuous improvement of the tax system. Find out more about the benefits membership of The Tax Institute can deliver for your role.