Tax Innovation

Kate Barton, EY

Kate Barton

Editors’ Note

Kate Barton is a member of the Americas Executive Board, the Global Management Group, and the Global Tax Executive Committee, and is a partner at Ernst & Young LLP. Prior to this, she served as the Northeast Region Tax Managing Partner and as the New York Office Managing Partner. She joined the firm in 1985 as an intern. Barton received a B.S. from Boston University, a J.D. Magna Cum Laude and Order of the Coif from Boston College Law School, and an LL.M. in Taxation from Boston University School of Law. She is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the states of New York and Massachusetts. She is a member of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the American Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Company Brief

The global EY organization (ey.com) is a leader in assurance, tax, transaction, and advisory services. In the Americas – EY’s largest area – member firms employ more than 70,000 people across 30 countries and generate $14.5 billion in revenues. Globally, EY member firms employ nearly 250,000 people and generate $31.4 billion in revenues.

What has made EY so strong in its tax practice?

It’s all about our culture, which comes from the top. Women and people of all cultures and backgrounds are encouraged to flourish and to develop.

It’s a rich culture that supports grabbing as much opportunity as one can and paying it forward.

When it comes to the Big Four, tax services can sound similar. How challenging is it to differentiate?

On the tax side, in order to be really successful, we have to be experts in technical knowledge, but we also need to be very relational. People want to work with those they enjoy being with.

It’s an area where EY shines. Our tax brand is number one and we have a great group of people who are at the top of their field. We inspire a lot of young people to come into the profession, fueled by a strong sense of purpose to help build a better working world.

Do those entering the profession understand the scope of the innovation taking place in the industry?

We’ve spent a lot of time in our tax practice making sure the innovation mindset is valued and treasured. Our existing fleet knows that well and the word is spreading. We’re steps ahead in our tax innovation culture in technology, robotics and automation. Our clients are looking for us to be the compass and lead them through these changes.

Do you worry that technology will detract from some of the human element of the business?

Relationships are critical. Many millennials are not used to using their vocal chords. Emotional quotient is so key. This is a service business and it can be enabled by technology but the human element cannot be replaced.

For the tax practice, how valuable is it to have a broad range of clients?

We serve clients everywhere on the spectrum, but we have a fondness for the entrepreneur. At EY, an entrepreneurial culture is deep rooted and that culture resonates. We like to take the concept from the garage to a public offering and then to stardom. We have that range of capabilities to do this from a tax perspective and we’re the most globally aligned firm. Even start-ups have global businesses and setting up the right structure from the beginning is critically important.

Would you discuss EY’s focus on diversity and inclusion?

At EY, we focus on the science of diversity and inclusion, and we’ve done a great job training our people about unconscious bias and the role that plays in the workplace starting 15 years ago. Our people who go through this indicate how the training is pivotal. Many of our clients are interested in replicating our progress in this area, so we’ve been ahead of the curve in this regard.