Nicola Taylor, Co-founder - Creative
From dreams of following her parent's path into teaching, to navigating her way into the world of entrepreneurship, Nicola Taylor, Co-Founder at Tax Traders has had a very interesting career journey.
We caught up with Nicola to learn more about her drive for social justice and change, how she pivoted from working as a commercial lawyer to starting a business and the strong motivation for that business to be mission-led and a force for good.
We also touched upon the incredible growth the business has seen over its inception, the key attributes of people that thrive in the Tax Traders environment and what the future holds for the business.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Nicola.
“I run a company that helps New Zealand businesses pay their tax in a way that suits them best. ”
How would you explain to a five-year-old what it is that you do?
In New Zealand, everyone pays money to the Government so that the Government can do things like build hospitals and roads. I run a company that helps New Zealand businesses pay their tax in a way that suits them best.
And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?
Tax Traders is on a mission to change the way you think about tax. We provide all businesses with a better way to pay their tax, unlocking greater flexibility and a range of new business benefits for them. We work within the 'tax pooling' legislative framework (contained in Inland Revenue Acts); this allows businesses to manage their tax payments and cash flow through an Inland Revenue-approved flexible payment offering.
Our magic lies in our ability to disambiguate this legislation, turning a complex system into intuitive smart software tools to help accountants and businesses. We now work with 12,000 companies, 800 accountancy practices and have $3b of funds in our “tax pool”.
We’re a fintech company that believes in the power of business to be a force for good in society. We were founded on the belief that a tax system should be fair, transparent, and accessible, and that the benefits and opportunities of our tax system should be available to every taxpayer, (and not just a select few).
“I probably thought I would outwork my desire for social change in politics...”
Was building a tech company something you dreamed about doing as a kid? If not, what was?
I was born with a strong drive for social justice and have always been wired for social change. I think my first career aspiration was to be a teacher because both my parents were school teachers. However, when I was 17 my mother suggested I would enjoy law school (and she was so right) so I studied law, english and politics before starting my career as a commercial lawyer at Russell McVeagh.
I probably thought I would outwork my desire for social change in politics but through the various twists and turns of life (and three young children), we decided to set up Tax Traders. However, my earlier drive towards politics and social change probably explains why we are so motivated to see business as a force for good and committed to being mission lead, putting people first and seeking to have a positive impact on the world around us.
“...Josh had just been made redundant and I was coming to the end of my last pregnancy and we found ourselves at a crossroads.”
Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and what inspired you to start Tax Traders?
Josh and I both studied law and worked in big commercial law firms before taking separate pathways, me to public policy and Josh to finance and then tax. We are both naturally entrepreneurial and have always had a notion that business could be a force for good.
There was a moment in time when Josh had just been made redundant and I was coming to the end of my last pregnancy and we found ourselves at a crossroads. Neither of us felt like going back into employment and we were both ready for a new challenge.
We looked at the tax system in New Zealand and we could see that there were some amazing benefits in that system that were only accessible by large corporates.
That didn’t seem fair or equitable to us so we wondered if we might take our skills and experience, as well as our entrepreneurial nous, and change things so that all New Zealand businesses could access the benefits of our complex tax system. This was the inspiration to start Tax Traders, and this still remains our driving purpose today.
Where do you hope Tax Traders will be in five years from now?
We are gearing up for significant expansion to take our offering to more businesses in New Zealand and release a range of new products. In five years (by 2027), we hope Tax Traders will be providing every New Zealand taxpayer with the smart tools they need to pay their tax in a way that best suits them.
We also hope to be the payment engine driving New Zealand’s payments and to provide tools that go some way to solving many difficult payment issues whether that’s Working for Families; R&D tax credits, or other tax types/payments.
I hope we have expanded into other countries/jurisdictions with our smart tax tools, and I truly hope to have elevated the conversation about the role of business in society. I also hope that we have been the best place our people have ever worked (or will work).
“We aim for a flat structure at Tax Traders, where everyone feels like they can contribute to the shape and future of the company.”
What kind of boss are you, if I was to ask one of your employees?
To be honest, we don’t talk much about bosses and we don’t use words like “manager”. We aim for a flat structure at Tax Traders, where everyone feels like they can contribute to the shape and future of the company.
We have three CEOs being Josh Taylor, Tim Kirkpatrick and me (nicknamed 'the Trinity') and we each bring different styles of leadership to Tax Traders. I think employees would describe me as warm, loving, hardworking, future-focussed and driven.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
The best piece of advice I received was from my dad when I turned 21. He said “don’t be flattered by the world’s praise nor flattened by its criticisms,” and I come back to that regularly. He was encouraging me to know who I am, where my value is derived from and what I am on this planet to do and be.
It’s not specifically career advice, but it is relevant for every aspect of life. Apart from that, the single best piece of career advice I’ve heard is to choose an outstanding life partner, someone who will really be a partner (not a “helper”), who is very secure in themselves and can grow and change.
“We hire talented people who want to grow with us.”
Lastly, as Tax Traders grows, what are the key traits and characteristics of the people you look for when hiring?
We hire talented people who want to grow with us. Our team say that to do well here, you should be comfortable with change, adaptable, collaborative, curious, determined, and self-motivated.
We love people who bring any and all manner of ideas to the table to help us innovate and improve, and drive us into new areas and ventures. We don’t have a specific “type” however because we understand that complex problems are best solved when there are a diverse range of people in the team.