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Accountancy Looks For 'Soft Skills'

Posted on March 31, 2015 at 10:40 AM

Accountancy jobs advertised today have a heightened requirement that many may find unexpected: 'soft skills.'

More than 76% of accountancy jobs advertised today demand candidates who can demonstrate such skills, according to accountancy recruiter Randstad Financial & Professional. While these skills are less tangible than professional knowledge, technical ability, and ACCA, CIMA or CIPFA qualifications, candidates are increasingly preferred if they have them, it says.

Economic research recently commissioned by McDonald's suggested the UK was facing a shortage of such skills, placing their contribution to the UK economy at £88bn, with the figure expected to rise to £109bn in the next five years. You can read more about that from me at Forbes.

"The soft skills in the highest demand are, possibly, not the ones we might expect, While we might imagine managerial and leadership skills would be the most popular with big professional services firms, for instance, the ability to communicate effectively is actually their top priority" says Tara Ricks,managing director of Randstad F&P.

"There are still a lot of professionals in the field who think they're going to get ahead on intellect and technical skills alone. Your ICAEW, ICAS or CAI qualifications will get you across the line, but they won't land you a partnership" she adds. 

Corporate governance watchers might well breathe a sigh of relief at that news. On panels and in seminars across London in the last year there has been much muttering about accountants as auditors being at the root of all that ails many organisations. 

But is a lack of Emotional Intelligence also a problem for the accountancy profession- and by extension, for the boards of publicly listed companies? Because boards  - particularly audit committees - are stuffed with them, to the exclusion of other skill-sets.

"Expanded responsibilities have put new emphasis on the importance of including non-financial expertise and soft skills within the group" says an interesting Audit Committee Bulletin from - surprisingly - EY, published in June last year.

Rising awareness of the importance of 'soft skills' is very welcome: the jury is out on how much progress the UK is currently making. For it to have a swifter economic impact, it needs to focus on the top echelons as well as on graduate recruitment. 

Categories: Corporate, Behaviour, Communication