Mac Killoran, Tax Partner at Fruitman Kates, on his Career, the Industry, and Recent Government Changes

Mac Killoran has over a decade of experience in public accounting and tax. He now heads Fruitman Kates’ tax group, which covers everything from corporate tax compliance to CRA disputes. We sat down with Mac to learn about his career path, his experience growing a practice, and his thoughts on the recent tax code changes.

Did you always imagine yourself taking this career path?

“I’ve always had aspirations to get to where I am today.

I laid the groundwork for it back in University: I was in first year and didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I had a friend in my fraternity who was older and doing his CA. He mentioned that he thought I’d be great at it, and that’s where I started.

Honestly, I’m not where I want to be so it’s hard to say. I had a meeting yesterday who referred me to someone worth $250m and said ‘I invited Mac and he’s the best guy in the city’—so that’s a humbling experience.”

What are some of your insights on running a successful practice?

“I started growing my practice with family and friends, then word of mouth took hold. A word of advice: get connected with lawyers who think you do good work.

Recently, I’ve been trying to show my staff who want to get there to how to do it. A lot of people are really anxious and if you’re too anxious, it just doesn’t come across well.

My favourite line is: you can only give 2 of these 3 things to clients: Price, Quality & Service. Since I’m never willing to compromise on quality, you can tell me what kind of service you’re looking for and I can bill you accordingly. My practice is all about service so that really is what differentiates me from people on the street. In today’s society, people want service and the good clients are willing to pay for it.

In the mid-market space, there is a lack of quality advisors. A lot of talent is going into industry, and with the recent changes to the designation, there are a lot less people who want to be in public accounting. It’s a trend that’s been happening over the last 10-15 years. There’s a huge succession of the baby-boomer generation passing down wealth to their kids, and they’re looking for quality advisors which I think I’m positioned well for.”

We’ve heard a lot about the recent federal policy changes—how have they affected you and your clients?

“Since the Liberals have come into power, they’ve taken the tax code and complicated it; new eligible capital property rules, specific corporate income rules, they’ve really made some major changes. I read through it all and frankly felt it was so far reaching and so complicated that people like myself had to stand up and say something. The bulk of my clients rely on me to advise them on how this all works, but if they don’t understand it at all, it puts a lot of risk on us as public practice professionals. If when I look at it I can barely understand the changes, how does everyone else understand it?

I’m really left wondering why the government didn’t take this opportunity to make the system simpler and fairer for everyone across the board. We file roughly 3,500 personal returns and the system is broken.  Why can’t we attach a PDF when we do e-filing? It would save us a ton of headaches and time, and it would save admin costs reviewing it on the other end. It makes no sense.

My goal is to streamline the process, not only for my clients but for the entire community as a whole. There’s a lack of resources to turn to and people don’t know what to do. How are people dealing with it? They’re just not. I’m trying to take a step back and say that if the system is so broken, how can we make it better? That’s what I’m fighting for every day.”

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