What personal qualities do accountants need?

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Mark Lee considers what accountants in practice might be able to learn from the apparently “bumbling” mayor of London.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, recently admitted that his “colourful” style is a deliberate ploy he uses to get attention.

In an interview with the American TV channel CNBC he indicated that his bumbling self-deprecating persona is part of an attempt to be noticed and remembered by people who are bored by conventional politicians.

Boris is clearly more memorable and more likeable than most other British politicians these days. His personal qualities, including his bumbling style, clearly make him stand out whatever we may think of his policies and politics.

At the other extreme I recall John Major being defined by ‘Spitting Image’ (a satirical TV show) as a very grey and boring politician.

Are you memorable or boring? What personal qualities do you have that make clients like you? Are you referable? By which I mean, do the people you meet, whether at networking events or elsewhere, remember you and feel comfortable referring their clients and contacts to you?

In the CNBC interview Boris said..

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About Mark Lee

Mark Lee works almost exclusively with savvy sole practitioners who want more out of their practice.  More clients, more money, more time, more satisfaction - or everything!

An accountant by profession, Mark moved away from the provision of professional advice in 2006.   He is now a professional speaker, mentor, facilitator, author and debunker.

Mark Lee is a realist and regularly debunks myths and hype related to his areas of interest and expertise.  His keynote talk for audiences of accountants is How to STAND OUT and be more than 'just another accountant'.

Mark is passionate about helping accountants generally so is a keen blogger and commentator in the accounting and tax press. He is consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB and has written hudnreds of articles here that have been viewed over a million times.

Check out how he could help you here: www.BookMarkLee.co.uk/savvy

Mark stopped giving tax advice himself despite being a past Chairman of the Chartered Accountants’ Tax Faculty. He is however Chairman of the Tax Advice Network - the UK's highest ranked lead generation website for tax advisers and accountants. The network also publishes a weekly practical tax update for accountants in general practice and full tax support, on demand too.  You can also use it as a lead generation resource for local people seeking tax advice from an accountant.

Mark has extensive network reach through his blogs, talks, social media activity, articles and his regular newsletters that go to thousands of accountants every week.


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15th Apr 2013 16:09

Mark you are

really scraping the barrel now.

This must be one of the worst articles you have ever written, if it wasn't written tongue in cheek.

Well I'll start it off.

I use lifebuoy soap cos it gives a manly smell and that's what my clients like.

I have "power ranger", "ninja turtle" and of course "Thor" characters on a shelf behind my desk so my clients can feel safe.

I also have piped music in the toilets for that calming effect.

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16th Apr 2013 09:49

Something that wasnt mentioned...

having just got off the phone with an upset client I would submit that an important quality is the ability to listen and (hopefully!) work miracles at least in the clients eyes.

And how about the ability to nag (possibly only a quality we women accountants are best at!)

Thanks (1)
By waltere
16th Apr 2013 11:05

Dear, oh dear!

Boris's comments are a sad reflection on the beauty parade that modern politics have become ("I'll do anything to get your vote.").  Let's hope that accountancy doesn't go the same way.

Thanks (2)
16th Apr 2013 14:30


Thanks for that - 'a good listener' is indeed an important additional personal quality.

It also goes hand in hand with being perceived as good company. People like people who make the time to listen.

Not sure I'd agree that being a nag is a good quality. But being persistent is and needs adding to my list. Thanks for that.



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16th Apr 2013 14:29


I see Boris's antics as intended to get our attention - and in this his approach is successful. Only when he has our attention are we even in a position to decide whether or not we wish to vote for him.  

As I have suggested many times, accountants need to stand out more (in a positive way) from each other. I firmly believe that those who can successfully distinguish themselves from the majority will be more successful.


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16th Apr 2013 14:56

I have watched

Boris over the years (always thought he would make good PM material) and I don't think he puts on an act. Yes he will play to the crowds but that is his natural outgoing personality (schoolboy stuff). He is highly intelligent so will always put his foot in it, but will be very quick to remedy.

I don't think you need to be different to be successful. If you have the right training, work hard, have a bit of natural ability and oomph, then I think you will be successful in any trade/profession.

We should all be mindful of Waltere's last comment.

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16th Apr 2013 15:28

"oomph" could be defined as the right personal qualities


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29th Apr 2013 12:36

standing out from the crowd

Hi Mark...I thought this was an exemplary article of how to make friends and influence people [a book written by Carnegie, you may recall]

There are  many comparisons [in politics anyway] such as John Major and Tony Blair et al; but what I like most about this article is the way you've articulated those boring characteristics and the popular qualities that make us all different.

I t reminds me of those tax men who exemplify the cautious and very serious to those whom are seemingly, quite jovial. Both get the same results when under an investigation. 

I personally believe if you make 'em laugh they're more likely to feel more comfortable with you than that very 'pin stripey' brigade that put us all on edge.


Well done!



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29th Apr 2013 14:14

Well Mark

have you made more friends since, that you could attribute to this article?

By the way Dale Carnegie didn't do all that well.

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