Why Diversity is Important on Financial Planning Teams

Portrait of Tara ThomasTara Thomas is a Senior Tax Manager in DHG’s Atlanta office who is presenting Financial Planning Ideas from Inside the 1040 with DHG Partner, Alpa Patel at the AICPA’s Engage 2018 Conference. As Tara gets ready for her presentation, she discusses how this opportunity arose and why diversity is so important in serving clients and guiding them through financial planning.

How did you receive the opportunity to present on financial planning at the upcoming AICPA Engage Conference?

This truly is an exciting opportunity. Alpa Patel was invited to present at the conference by one of her clients, and she asked me to participate in one of two presentations with her. Alpa is my sponsor in DHG’s ASCEND program, and part of her sponsorship includes helping source opportunities like the AICPA Engage conference that may not have otherwise been available to me. With her network, I am able to make new connections and experience unique leadership opportunities. In the past few weeks, we’ve been preparing for our presentation and staying in close communication about the conference.

In working with many engagement teams, why is it so important for teams to have gender diversity as you are serving clients?

Men and women often bring different perspectives to the table, which help us provide new and creative solutions for our clients. We aim for our focus on diversity to be consistent with the clients we are serving so we are similarly aligned. Diverse teams are strong, and I am thankful for the opportunity to bring gender diversity to some of the engagement teams that I serve. Differences can be refreshing when you experience something from someone else’s perspective.

What can businesses do to be more inclusive of women in leadership positions?

Businesses that are proactive and flexible with both men and women are naturally more inclusive of women in leadership roles. When everyone on an engagement team can pull together to make the team successful, we see the potential for more women to excel to leadership positions. We have a new generation of employees in the workforce and a focus on and priority of work-life integration is critical. If you work for a flexible and supportive organization, the approach is a team effort enabling team members to manage busy family lives while juggling work deadlines and responsibilities.

I’m also a huge fan of sponsorship and mentorship opportunities. Having a dedicated sponsor like I have had with Alpa affords me those stretch opportunities like the AICPA presentation and in the long run, this sets me up for success as a future leader. I am confident that Alpa has my best interest in mind, and she works with me to identify enriching leadership opportunities. Fostering relationships with other women who have also had strong sponsors and mentors gives me a chance to learn how they may have navigated the path to partner or firm leader.

What is most exciting to you as you prepare for presenting at and attending the AICPA Engage conference?

I am new to this conference, but as I’ve prepared, I’ve been impressed with the variety of topics, networking opportunities and financial planners and advisors who attend. I am excited to learn from keynote speakers and leaders in the tax and financial planning sectors. Having access to the type of resources presented at this conference will provide me with the tools that I will use to be a trusted advisor to my clients, especially with the questions we are currently fielding related to tax reform and planning.

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