After I wrote my final CA exams in Charlottetown in June of 1965 I immediately returned to Toronto to start working for Clarkson, Gordon (now Ernst & Young). I had to be employed by a CA firm until I had passed all the exams, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to stay in the program. The exam results weren’t due to be released until late September, but one evening around the middle of August I received a phone call from Lorne Reesor, at the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, who asked if I could go to the CICA offices sometime in the next week or so. He went on to explain that I had won the Hoben Memorial Prize, the award given to the CA finalist with the highest marks in the four Atlantic provinces, and the CICA wanted to take my picture and prepare a press release to be used when the exam results were announced in a few weeks time. He then admonished me not to “say a word to anyone” about this.
As a CA student I had become keenly interested in income tax and actually had done a lot of tax work during the last two years of my training in Charlottetown. It was always my intention to move into the tax practice at Clarkson Gordon as soon as I could. When I went into the office the next day I went to see the Personnel Partner, a gentleman by the name of John Stohn (pronounced “stone”) who had hired me back in January after an exchange of letters and a flying interview in Toronto. I told Mr. Stohn that I wanted to move into tax work. He informed me that under the Institute rules I had to stay in audit until I actually received my CA designation. I told him I was pretty confident that I had passed the exams. He said that didn’t matter and, in any event, Clarkson Gordon had a policy that all new CAs had to stay in audit for a full year after qualifying before moving into another discipline. I didn’t say anything to him, other than to thank him for meeting with me, but I knew at that moment that my career with Clarkson Gordon was going to be short because there was no way I was going to wait a year to get into tax work. And then serendipity took over.
When I returned to Toronto at the end of June, I naturally began seeing old friends from TCPL, particularly Gerry Hutchko, Peter Scheirich, and Brian Williams (although Brian was no longer with the pipeline). The Saturday after learning that I had passed the CA exams, and then meeting with John Stohn, I was a guest at TCPL’s annual golf tournament. One of the people I ran into at the dinner following the day of golf was Andy Jessen, who was now TCPL’s Personnel Manager. We got caught up on things and when he learned that I had written my final exams, was back in Toronto, and working at Clarkson Gordon, he asked, “Would you be interested in coming back to TransCanada? We’re about to advertise for a recent CA graduate to become a one-man Tax Department within the corporate finance group.” I couldn’t believe my ears. “I can start September 1st,” I said.
Andy walked me over to an empty table and we sat down. “The job pays $5,500 a year and you would be reporting to Al Martin,” he explained. Al was a CA and was Assistant Chief Accountant when I left TCPL four years earlier. I knew Al very well and liked him a lot; also, the salary was more than I would be making as a first-year CA at Clarkson Gordon, so again I said, “I can start September 1st.” Andy said, “I’ll be right back after I talk to Al Martin.” A few minutes later Andy and Al both came over to where I was sitting. Al shook my hand, and said, “Welcome back, Lyman.”
Wednesday, September 1, 1965, found me back on the 6th floor at 150 Eglinton Avenue East, but now I wasn’t sitting at a desk in the large open space, but rather in a private office on the north wall. My first official act was to deal with a couple of people in personnel to complete the documentation of being back. Coincidentally, the two people I had to deal with were my old friend and former apartment mate, Pete Scheirich, now a Personnel Officer, and the same Personnel secretary who first suggested I become a CA. Next I was given a briefing by Al Martin and the guy who had been doing the tax work part-time (another old acquaintance by the name of Rick Beck, and with whom I would share a secretary). After that I spent most of the day renewing acquaintances.
At one point Jean King came into my office, closed the door, and brought me up to speed on all the office politics and gossip. At lunchtime I went out to the little sandwich shop around the corner on Redpath Avenue and picked up french fries with ketchup, a ham on a Kaiser, and a coke. I brought it all back to the office and joined three or four of my old friends watching the high stakes bridge game that took place every noon hour in Bob Heider’s office. It was as if I’d never left.
Looking after TCPL’s income and commodity tax compliance and planning really wasn’t a full-time job, which the senior finance people recognized. Accordingly, I was sometimes brought in on special projects, such as submissions to the National Energy Board, and no one complained when I spent free time studying tax texts and court cases. I was encouraged to join, and become active in, the Junior Board of Trade, and was asked to take on the role of Treasurer of The March of Dimes. When I asked Al Martin if I could also become active in The Institute of Chartered Accountants, he seemed overly enthusiastic. I found out the reason a year later. All of these activities helped launch me on my professional career, none more importantly than my direct involvement with the profession, first through the Ontario Institute and later through the Canadian Institute.
My official title was Tax Analyst and the only times I was fully occupied with tax were: during the year-end accounting period; when Peat Marwick Mitchell (now KPMG) was in to do the annual audit; or, when tax auditors were snooping around. By the fall of 1966 the novelty of being back at TCPL had worn off and I was spending a lot of time outside the office with The March of Dimes, Junior Board of Trade committees, and being very active on two very busy ICAO committees: Tax, and Public Relations.
I went to see Al Martin and told him that although I enjoyed the outside activity and appreciated the company’s support of it, I didn’t find my work particularly challenging. He said there was about to be a development that might take up a lot of my time, and it was then that I found out why, a year earlier, he was so keen on my getting involved with the Institute. Al explained that he’d been working on a joint committee of The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accounts and the Canadian Bar Association that had set up a comprehensive income tax course to be offered annually starting in a few months. The course would span two years and would consist of intense study of prescribed texts, court cases and other material, augmented by a full month in-residence term each year at the University of Toronto, taught by Canada’s leading tax practitioners and academics.
There would be fifty CAs and fifty lawyers in the inaugural offering. Of the fifty CAs, forty would be from CA firms with only ten from industry, government and academia. The total cost of the course would be $5,000; a lot of money in 1967, but which the company would pay. Al said that he had submitted my name as one of the ten CAs from industry. He felt that the complete support from the company, combined with my Institute activity, would give me a good chance. Although he never said so, I suspect the fact that he was on the special committee that developed the course also had some influence. In any event, I was one of the chosen few who assembled at New College at the University of Toronto in April 1967 for the first edition of the now famous CICA In-depth Tax Course. This, as you will see, was to have a profound effect on my career.
Al, and the other senior finance executives, recognized that because my income tax experience at the company was very narrow I would have to spend a lot more time studying than the other CAs in the course, so they had no problem with my spending a good deal of company time studying the course material.
Although the year 1967 passed very quickly, by December I was bored again and it was clear to me that spending another year as a Tax Analyst wouldn’t give me another year of tax experience but rather just the same one-year experience over again for the third time. I again went to see Al Martin and suggested that I be promoted to Tax Manager, which would mean I’d be reporting directly to the Vice-President of Finance. This would entail a significant raise, would allow me to hire a junior person to do the actual tax work, and, at the managerial level I would be involved in other senior treasury and finance department matters.