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Felicity Bandic

DNA of a Tax Leader

Felicity Bandic headshotFelicity is Director, Tax at Silver Standard Resources Inc., a Vancouver-based publicly-listed mining company, focused on the operation, development, exploration and acquisition of precious metal projects in the Americas. Felicity also manages Enterprise Risk Management at the company. With more than 20 years of experience in income, mining and commodity taxes, Felicity has experience in jurisdictions globally including the Americas, Australia & Asia, and Europe, bringing an international perspective to tax policy and planning for large and medium-size corporations.

Her public practice experience has been split between KPMG and Ernst and Young over 10 years in both Canada and Australia working in mining and real estate, specializing in corporate tax (inbound and outbound), transfer pricing (including APA and Competent Authority negotiations), tax controversy and income tax provisions (US GAAP and IFRS). Felicity is currently a member of the CPA Canada Industry Tax Committee, the Vancouver Chapter of TEI and the BCCPA Taxation Forum.

Director, Tax
Silver Standard Resources Inc.

How long have you been a leader in Tax?
I would say I first became a leader in tax when I transferred In-House for the first time, after being at a Big 6 firm. I had 7 staff reporting to me and managed/planned and oversaw an entire tax function.   The shift from being in an advisory role to one of bringing tax into real life operations was a significant transition but one that required leadership.

Have you always aspired to achieve a senior leadership role in Tax?
Being a naturally assertive and curious person I strive to constantly learn and grow.  That will often lead you to take on challenges that have an untrodden path and/or an uncertain outcome.  Leadership will often be a natural outcome of such curiosity and tax is a natural fit. 

Was Finance/Tax always your career path?
Not at all. I chose my university degree, a combined commerce/law degree, because I thought it would present me with options since I didn’t know what I wanted to do after University. I had an outstanding professor for an Advanced Tax module and that opened my eyes to the field of tax and how it combined both streams of study, law and accounting. 

Have you ever second guessed your career path?
YES! After about 8 years in the field I actively considered different career choices, ones that would bring me closer to the business operations within an organisation.  I ultimately decided to stick with tax but committed to making my career path one that allowed me to be a tax professional that kept me as close as possible to the business operations within organisations.  That has proven over time to have been a smart choice.   

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced along your career path?
Explaining the significance of tax impacts to executive teams within organizations so the business can make tax intelligent, risk-based decisions. Over the years I have grown as a tax professional and so too has the awareness of tax in organisations.  It is far easier in today’s world to communicate tax impacts on business strategy, and how tax aware organisations can add value to the business.

What technical skills do you think are integral to a tax role?
I think gaining a strong and well-structured public accounting background and pursuing a strong tax focused post-secondary designation (CPA In-depth tax program or a Masters in Tax) will provide a platform to understand the theory, public policy and practical application of the field of tax.  But at the end of the day you become a better skier the more turns you do and so too as a tax professional, the more situations you encounter and help resolve the better technically you will become.

What is your advice to someone who is moving up the ranks in the field and wants to pursue a management/executive career?
For those wanting to progress in industry specifically, my advice is to get out of your office and speak to the wider business as much as possible.  Really get to know the industry drivers.  You want to be able to understand all aspects of the business in order to present the best alternatives which will contribute to the growth of your organization and keep tax at the table as a trusted business partner.

Have you ever worked abroad?
Yes, I’ve lived and worked in Sydney and New York and for a period I visited Singapore quarterly and I am now located in Vancouver.  I believe my exposure to different tax regimes has really helped me develop my career from a technical and public policy perspective.  All tax regimes work within a similar framework and once you understand a government’s motivation behind tax rules the details will fall into place.

What’s your favourite part of your job?
Problem solving. Most matters I am involved in requires a multi-disciplined approach to finding an elegant business-focussed solution and needs input from legal, treasury, accounting and the business.  I also take pride in implementing non-person dependent systems and solutions that will endure.

What is the one thing you have to have to be a Tax Leader in your opinion?
Assuming you have the appropriate level of technical training and ability I would say having the personality fit for the specific company you’re working in. A great working relationship with the CFO/COO and other strategic decision makers is vital to longevity and development.

In your opinion, how important is networking?

It certainly should never be neglected. Being tapped into the tax community is a great way to be aware of future opportunities, get assistance and discuss opinions on issues.   For example, there are no text book on how to efficiently manage a CRA audit, however your local network will be an important resource to understand best practices and general tips and traps. 

In your opinion, how important is social media for networking/helping one achieve their career goals?

I think it’s a good way to maintain connections in today’s world, for example business cards have been replaced to a significant degree with Linkedin.  If you are using social media in a more active way it is important, like all business goals, to understand what the measure of success looks like in context of the desired goal. 

Compared to 5 or 10 years ago, in your opinion how would you say your role has evolved?
Tax professionals can no longer merely rely on the technical merits of an argument to measure successful advice, the technical position must now also translate into facts.  Tax is a much more interesting field to me today than it was 10 years ago.