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Soft skills series: The Art of Conversation


"A little less conversation, a little more action please”. A legendary line from “The King” but now, for accountants anyway, the reverse holds true. According to recent research from CIMA, insights generated by accountants to aid business decisions often come about through conversations with colleagues – not just crunching the numbers – with communication skills holding a new level of importance alongside technical skills. 

With so much data now inundating businesses, accountants can stand out by demonstrating a sound grasp of the key soft-skills and showing their advice can truly make a business more effective. This is how accountants can move from the role of ‘traditional finance’ to being a ‘business partner’.

With busy schedules, it can be tricky for accountants to find the capacity to make the leap from straight accountancy to business partnering. But to do so you need to be confident enough to question the status quo of company practices, empathise with colleagues (typically non-finance) and have the commercial curiosity to ask about the issues they face. This also helps build the broader understanding of the business in all its complexity.

Kate Winslet hit headlines recently for banning devices and social media in her household to prevent her children becoming introverted. I would never endorse prohibition of Facebook or Twitter, but  I do advise all accountants to step away from their desks, and truly get to know the business and its people –communicate your knowledge face to face and embrace the new way of finance to avoid being seen as a ‘keyboard warrior’ or ‘business preventer’.

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