Why accountants need soft skills

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Guidance is provided to the members of most professional accountancy institutes regarding the Continued Professional Development. The ICAEW specifically state that all members should reflect on the knowledge and skills required for the role not just technically but non-technically, and consider the expectations placed on them. At the same time, business owners have indicated in various surveys that they are crying out to spend more time with their most trusted adviser – the accountant. With client relationships becoming more important than ever, shouldn’t you be making time for soft skills, Peter Gill argues?

Many partners, in their open, honest and private moments, will tell you that they trained to be accountants, which meant technical training and little else. The sk...

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By Anonymous
05th Feb 2009 15:39

Max your own ROI
This is a very topical issue for clients of theaccountantscoach.com right now. I'm getting a lot of demand to speak and write about leverage ie working your existing assets more smartly and this is where soft skills are vital. What worked for you in 2007 and 2008 probably won't cut it in 2009 and accountants are starting to wise up that new ways of thinking are required to deal with a rapidly changing landscape. Bottom line - need to achieve more with the same or even less resource. Bring on the soft skills!
(sign up for monthly free tip at www.theaccountantscoach.com)

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03rd Feb 2009 15:45

I agree with the need to develop soft skills
Indeed I wrote a white paper on the subject a couple of years back and have mentored a number of individual accountants to enable them to accelerate their personal development.

In the main though I suspect that traditional views still remain in force - despite the lessons of experience:
- "it's all common sense" - just not 'common practice';
- "it's not something you can teach" - why on earth not?
- "we don't want to invest in developing our staff as they'll just up and leave to get a better job afterwards" - so it's not just staff who would benefit from additional training!

Mark Lee
Tax Advice Network

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03rd Feb 2009 19:02

The tide is turning
Sadly Mark’s comments are still typical in many firms, but the tide is turning. Indeed, we developed our professional skills development programme because many of our clients were asking for it. The key reasons were staff retention, to make sure that they keep the best (and to counter the recruitment agencies’ suggestion that they have to move to gain wider experience) and giving the firm the right structure for growth.

Of course, those firms that do invest in their people, and see the benefits flowing through, are more than happy for their competitors to continue ignoring this area of professional skills!

With the recession there is a temptation to cut back in areas like soft skills training. I may have a vested interest, but it seems to me that in a recession, more than ever, you need to ensure that your qualified staff focus on issues like efficiency, client care and business development.

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