Long-time tax expert Steve Reed reflects on business growth

Steve Reed | Submitted

After a career spanning 38 years, 28 spent with accounting and business advisory firm Manning Elliott LLP, tax specialist Steve Reed has seen the business evolve and grow to become one of the largest mid-sized accounting firms in British Columbia. The North Vancouver native and Simon Fraser University graduate has been lead senior tax partner at Manning Elliott for his entire tenure at the firm and has contributed to the growth of the tax team throughout that time.

Watching the business grow

Manning Elliott—which did not have a dedicated tax team at the time—recruited Reed from Deloitte & Touche in 1989. The firm had around 8 partners and 35 staff in total and was focused on a very hands-on approach with clients. “We still are,” said Reed of Manning Elliott’s business model. “When I joined I was a tax team of one and had to do everything myself. Growing has permitted us to specialize in many different niche areas.”

With offices in Downtown Vancouver, Surrey, and Abbotsford, and status as a top 20-ranked firm in Canada, Manning Elliott has allowed Reed the opportunity to support clients with tax services including corporate, personal and estate tax planning, while building a strong office culture.

“In our profession, it’s definitely got to do with the people,” said Reed of the key to success in the tax consulting industry. “The human resource is the most valuable resource we have, especially in tax.”

The balancing act 

This past May, Reed was elected president of the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), a passion project that stems from a lifelong love affair with soccer. The volunteer position has Reed taking care to ensure his total commitment to Manning Elliott—however, travel and opportunities to host key matches like the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and bidding for the 2026 FIFA Men's World Cup, have kept Reed motivated to volunteer for many roles at an administrative level in soccer for years.

“If you have a passion, compensation is probably the last thing on your mind. If that’s restricting you then maybe you don’t have that passion," said Reed of choosing to balance a busy tax career with volunteer work. “Volunteerism is massive and has so many benefits for society in general.”

England-born Reed came to Canada at nine months old, and recalls playing soccer since he could walk. Having had played until he was around 55, Reed experienced an organic transition into volunteer administrative roles in the world of sports.  

Work and the city

Looking back, Reed admits that the city of Vancouver had a lot to do with his choice to leave Victoria’s Deloitte & Touche for Manning Elliott. “I have traveled extensively, and when I come back here I am in awe of the natural beauty of this city. I never get over it,” said Reed.

In 1989, Reed saw Manning Elliott as a firm that held a lot of opportunity for both professional and personal growth.

“I’ve come through some pretty vibrant economic times here,” said Reed. “My career path followed the growth and success that Vancouver has had. It’s become a world-class city.”

The veteran tax expert says that living in a city he loves impacts the attitude he brings to both his work at Manning Elliott and his commitments with the CSA. As Reed’s firm now boasts a staff of over 170, he feels that there will always be opportunities to expand into different markets, both regional and out of province. Even as he begins to think about retirement, Reed admits that it will not take him out of the accounting game entirely, or diminish his passion for soccer.

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