Accountants need an image overhaul because the role we fill has changed, explains Lesley Stalker.
Although we are now well into the current series, cast your mind back to earlier in May when accountant Edward Hunter received the dubious honour of being the first person fired from The Apprentice... for extreme incompetence, let’s face it. He was spectacularly off the mark when it came to doing the cost analysis required for Lord Sugar’s food business task.
But while Hunter scored points mainly for his striking looks and charisma, (we love the blue eyes) most accountants, sadly, do the opposite. Much as we like to pretend otherwise, accountants tend to be true to that old stereotype and are a pretty dry bunch.
The focus of our work is on achieving technical excellence, acquiring knowledge, passing exams and then advising clients on how to run their businesses so as to maximise their profits. Those clients and, if we are being really honest, the world at large, see us as aloof and intellectual. And as a profession, we have struggled to change that image. Edward Hunter might not have done much to promote our reputation for technical excellence, but he’s obviously a very colourful character and in that sense, just what the profession needs to change its image.
Increasingly our work requires us to move away from a pure focus on technical excellence and build stronger client relationships; and this undoubtedly requires greater emotional intelligence.
What is EQ?
Sociologists reckon that only around 20% of a person’s success results from his or her Intelligence Quotient (IQ) - a measure of an individual’s ability to learn, understand, and reason.
They now believe that the remaining 80% depends on his or her Emotional Quotient (EQ), which measures the ability to relate to others, understand oneself, and to usefully direct one’s emotions. That alone is a good enough reason to read on.
Lesley Stalker is head of Tax at Robert James Partnership (RJP), a firm specialising in high growth businesses.