In every issue, The LINK checks in with an interesting professional from one of our Member companies. For April and during a brief visit to Sweden, we caught up with Magnus Johnsson, Partner, Tax Services at PwC Sweden.
Magnus Johnsson started his career as a tax advisor at what was then called Öhrlings Revisionsbyrå in Sweden. The company is today part of the esteemed British-American consultancy firm and SCC Member PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Since joining the company in 1989, Johnsson has worked with everything from advising SMEs to the international transactions of bigger multinational companies and clients on the private equity side. Over the years, the organisation has of course changed, as has the area of expertise. At the end of the 1980s there were about 30 people working in the tax department - today they are 330. Also, back then the focus was mainly on Swedish tax issues.
“Today there is a whole new dimension to how tax is viewed and there is a bigger focus on specialization. With globalization, everything has become international in a completely different way than 20 years ago,” Johnsson told The LINK.
Responsible for 330 tax lawyers in 32 offices, spread over Sweden, Johnsson keeps track of the changes and the development on the market. Despite this, a substantial part of his time is still spent serving clients’ needs - something that he takes very seriously. He believes that great leadership within a consultancy such as PwC hinges on great trust from employees and partner colleagues. In order to maintain credibility as a leader, the teams must have great respect for what their manager achieves for his/her own clients. This, Johnsson believes, goes hand in hand with his leadership.
“It would be bad for the organisation if I was to give up all client based work. It all moves so quickly today, there are a great many new regulations and it is crucial to keep up and stay updated on what clients find of importance today. You would not manage to do that if you weren’t working actively with clients,” he said.
And for Johnsson, it is still the client based work that gives him the most job satisfaction on a daily basis.
“Being able to help and advice clients on an issue in a way that both makes them feel comfortable and feels sound from our perspective - that is the best feeling. It is an enormous rush to find oneself in the centre of a large client deal. There are always so many complicated questions needing answers and being able to successfully put together a network of people from different countries to reach important solutions and create reports that will aid the client in a transaction – that’s a fantastic feeling.”
What are you most proud over having achieved professionally?
“I think that I have been good at building long lasting and secure client relationships that benefit both parties.
I am also very pleased with the development of the PwC Tax Department in Sweden. We have created a smooth running operation here and it feels exciting with all the opportunities and challenges ahead to know that we have created a great platform.
I also really enjoyed the global assignment I had a few years ago, because it was all about creating something new, something that had not been done before. We built up a network for the M&A tax area in South America and Asia for example, and that was very exciting and a bit of a milestone for me.”
What do you think is good leadership?
“Communication is key, making sure that messages are clear. If you have 330 sharp tax lawyer minds interpreting everything you say - you have to be very clear in your direction.
People are expecting a vision, a mind-set. Do we have an opinion? Where are we going? These things need to be clear in an organisation like this. For me, it is all about creating respect and trust among my co-workers and to listen.
Some people would probably say that the way we lead in Sweden is a bit wishy-washy, but I don’t think it is. We may be more consensus-seeking and listen more to our staff but it doesn’t have to mean that we are not clear with our direction. At the end they know that a decision has to be made and I am the one with the mandate to do it. I shoulder that responsibility.”