Christine Kearney, CTA, is a Corporate Freelancer who specialises in providing tax advice to Irish entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals. She is the Founder of and Independent Tax Adviser with Venga People.
Prior to taking the big and brave step into the world of self-employment Christine worked in various tax roles including Tax Adviser, Assistant Vice President and Senior Trust Professional with Twomey Moran (Ireland), Maples Group (Grand Cayman) and FFP (Cayman Islands).
We caught up with Christine recently to find out a bit more about her and to gain an insight into her career journey so far. Here, in the first of a 3-part series about diversifying your career as an Irish Tax Advisor, Christine also shares her best advice.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure! Well, I recently turned 30 and am currently living back in the Cayman Islands. I definitely have two personality types. I am a free spirit at heart. I love nothing more than watching the sunrise or doing something creative, while my alter-ego is an ambitious goal-obsessed boss! I’ve somehow managed to balance these two contrasting traits by spending almost 4 years working in the Cayman Islands before setting up my own company ‘Venga People’ and becoming a Corporate Freelancer in June 2022.
Tell us a little about your career to date…
I started my career in one of the top private client advisory firms in Dublin, Twomey Moran (TM). The fact that Twomey Moran was recently acquired by PwC, proves how lucky I was to get experience here in the early days of my career and learn from some of the best private client tax advisers in Ireland. I spent 4 years working in TM before I decided it was time to check out what the rest of the world had to offer.
Queue…career break! For me, this involved booking a 2-month European interrail pass, a one-way flight to Bali (it wasn’t as cliché 4 years ago) and teaching English in a place I’d never even heard of. I headed off on my own and ended up traveling through 10 different countries over 10 months.
My career break ended in the Cayman Islands, where I worked and lived until June 2022.
How did you decide upon a career in tax?
I studied Commerce and Spanish in college, which was pretty broad in terms of career options. Eager not to spend another summer waitressing, I headed to Dublin on the train two weeks after my final year exams in search of a job. After a number of interviews (most of which I attended with my suitcase in tow – in typical ‘up from the country’ fashion), I headed home with two job offers, one for a trainee tax adviser position and one for a corporate marketing position.
Ultimately, my decision came down wanting a career which involved constant learning and solving complex problems. I always liked the idea of studying law, and essentially that’s what tax is. Plus, there was only one trainee position available within the firm each year, so I saw this offer as a great ‘hands-on’ opportunity.
While I have a strong creative side, I’ve never regretted choosing a career in tax because as it turns out, you have to be rather creative for that too.
What does life as a tax advisor look like?
Right now, because I am building my own business my days are hectic.
I would consider my time working in Dublin as the ‘typical life’ of an Irish tax adviser. Lots of interesting, challenging work, multiple client meetings every day and lots of overtime around the income tax filing deadline.
As a private client tax adviser, you build strong relationships with clients as your advice plays a role in almost every financial decision they make. I find the relationship-building aspect of my career very rewarding.
As for my life as a tax adviser now, I essentially provide an ‘out-sourced CTA’ service to both large and small-medium size firms. As well as this, I advise a small number of private clients. I focus on providing advice to high-net worth individuals and business owners. As a sign of the times, it is now becoming increasingly common to speak to clients with international interests, so I am working more and more with tax advisers in other jurisdictions to provide unique client solutions.
As I have essentially been outside of Ireland myself since 2018, I have a personal interest in staying abreast of tax laws in multiple jurisdictions and can relate to others with the complexity of not being tied to one jurisdiction. The role of the Irish tax adviser is definitely becoming more ‘international’.
Outside of the actual tax work, I am currently developing a website for Venga People, developing a marketing strategy and mentoring a handful of other tax advisers who are interested in becoming Corporate Freelancers.
Next up Christine will share what like and work was like in Cayman, the best career advice she was given, her top tips and what’s next for her.
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