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Accounting degrees lacking soft skills focus

With many accounting practices moving towards high-touch services, universities should be teaching students how to develop relationships and communication skills beyond technical knowledge, says one accounting firm.

Accounting degrees lacking soft skills focus
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Interactive Accounting virtual CFO Lisa Callaghan said the expectations firms have of their accountants have changed considerably with the focus shifting from end of year compliance and reactive services to becoming a regular business advisor and mentor.

“This means contacting and communicating with the client on a regular basis instead of seeing them once or twice a year,” said Ms Callaghan.

“Clients want that really high touch relationship and that’s the services they’re looking for.”

As a result there are a lot of soft skills that universities need to be able to teach.

“For example how to develop relationships, how to communicate, how to deliver advisory services, and how to use applied knowledge,” she said.

“It’s not good enough to understand tax law or accounting standards, you need to be able to go into a business and to be able to understand that business and it’s model and all of its components and then be able to advise what is the best outcome for that business.”

Ms Callaghan said it is up to the education providers to make sure graduates are coming out with the relevant skill sets and knowledge to make sure that they’re able to walk into a modern day accounting firm and be able to contribute to the business.

“A lot of the work that juniors and graduates used to do won’t be required anymore, so they’ll need to be educated more quickly into higher level skill sets.”

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