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Are technical skills enough?

26th Jan 2010
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AIA

Many accountants assume non-technical skills can be developed on the job but is this really the case? Mark Lee makes a case for soft skills training.

Most accountants are justly proud of their technical skills. It is also common to find that firms rarely invest time and money in ensuring that partners and prospective partners have all the business skills they require to be profitable in the short-term and valuable in the longer term.

All too often practices merely pay lip service to the development of non-technical skills and yet there are few accountants whose success is solely dependent upon their technical skills. I know that my own career success owes more to the development of non-technical skills than it does to my knowledge and application of tax law.

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By scohen
26th Jan 2010 12:23

Non-technical skills development

These areas all  break down into a number of skills which can be learnt by watching others, being coached, training programmes etc. I would add two fundamental skills which I believe underpin the other skill areas:

assertiveness - having the skills and mindset to be able to deal with people and issues in an effective and confident mannercommunication skills - being able to converse with, write to and listen to others

Those you've suggested as "Binding" and mostly not relevant to sole practitioners, I might put a different way. Many sole practitioners use subcontractors, outsource certain services and have arrangements with other providers for areas they don't cover. They still need to work as a team, motivate others and delegate effectively. I would also say that if you are doing "everything", time management is critical.

Sue

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By Paul Shrimpling
26th Jan 2010 15:26

grow your people, grow your firm...

Great article Mark - i couldn't agree more.

It is clear how the accountants who invest heavily in the soft skills you describe also get a return on their investment - in the form of long term financial success.

There could easily be a debate on which skills but you capture four eloquently-put groups. Managing Partners who work out processes for growing their people in these four areas will ultimately grow their firm. What is also clear is those firms who don't grow their people will not grow their firm.

Paul Shrimpling

www.remarkablepractice.com

-- remarkable practice... inspires remarkable results

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By Anonymous
27th Jan 2010 10:53

Are technical skills enough?

An excellent article.  I would venture to suggest that the reason many of us are sole practitioners is that we do not have all (or sufficient) of the skills recognised as necessary to become equity partners.  For many older practitioners the idea that training might be required for the non-technical skills would not have been considered.

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