Laurie Austin, CPA
Managing partner and a partner in the Private Client Group at DGC (DiCicco, Gulman & Company LLP) in Boston
'Delegating is critical to growth ...'
Drawn back to international tax work: While I was still in school, I interned in the expat tax group at Coopers & Lybrand. I got great international experience but eventually bridged into other areas of tax. When I later moved to a regional firm, my international experience was a unique specialty. I was a magnet for anything international. Many professionals are afraid of it because it's specialized and complicated. When I left the Big Four a number of years ago, I thought I would leave the international work behind, but instead it has become a large part of my practice. I work primarily with individuals — I love the client contact and developing those relationships.
Guiding clients on international issues: Sometimes the challenge is explaining technical information in a way that our clients understand so they can make informed decisions and understand the ramifications or the opportunities unique to their situations. In addition to trying to reduce taxes for our clients, I also need to keep everybody within the guardrails and help them make decisions that are beneficial in the short and long term. It involves discussion and communication, often including coordination with tax advisers in other countries. I focus on the U.S. taxation of international issues for U.S. citizens living overseas and non-U.S. citizens living in the United States, as well as others with international activity.
Delegating successfully: I've learned to delegate over the years, although it can be a challenge at times. I've seen others struggle with this as well. It can be difficult to let go and to trust others while accepting that they may not do it the way you would do it. However, without taking the time to delegate and to teach others, we are limiting what we can accomplish. It is critical for the growth of our firm and our people to spend the time to teach others and provide them with the skills and tools to grow. Delegating is easier working with team members like mine, who share our commitment to our clients and embody our core values: Team first, be curious, and do what it takes.
Keys to good leadership: Authenticity, being genuine and sincere, and behaving like you would want others to behave are the keys to good leadership. It's important to listen, to respect others, and to understand what motivates them. There's certainly a lot more to running a firm than just the mechanics of being a leader — how you behave is critical if you expect people to respect and listen to you.