The ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is a global body for professional accountants, with over 178,000 members in 181 countries).

The ACCA recently published a report ‘Professional Accountants – The Future’ that outlined the skills and capabilities that our future accountants will need. These changes are being driven by the development of intelligent automated accounting systems, adoption of cloud computing by business, greater harmonisation of accounting and business standards and the changing aspirations and expectations of young accountants.

The report highlighted that all accountants will be expected to look ‘beyond the numbers, to collaborate and partner with people in other parts of the business and outside the business; interpret and explain the numbers; provide insight and information; help organisations to achieve short-term goals and longer-term objectives; think and behave more strategically, and become more involved in decision making.

The report identified 7 professional quotients (PQs) that should be used to identify competencies and skills for the future of accountants:

This list of capabilities seems more in tune with the expectations of managers and leaders in public practice rather than young accountants. However, the training of our future leaders must start now. To create more capacity and time for strategic thinking and advice, managers and leaders need to leverage more effectively – and this means placing more responsibility for client relationships and workflow into the hands of the people around them.  Are your accountants forward thinking? Do they show real curiosity about the work they are doing, about the clients they are servicing?

As a starting point, consider the following 7 tips and hints to help you develop the minds of your young accountants:

  1. Get your accountants in front of clients as soon as possible, initially in a support role in client meetings and over time in managing compliance work. There’s no better way to bring work to life than to engage with clients.
  2. Give your accountants full responsibility for their personal workflow, including allocation of clients, calling in of work, review of job budgets, follow-up of clients and management of work in progress.
  3. Establish a monthly client review workshop where all the people involved in servicing clients have the opportunity to consider the client relationship – not only the services provided, but also the way in which they are provided.
  4. Start reporting to clients with information that will influence their decision-making in relation to financial matters – and train your young accountants to develop and interpret these reports.
  5. Use technology, cloud accounting and outsourcing (where appropriate) to reduce or eliminate the ‘processing’ components of client work so that more time can be spent adding value to clients. Get your young accountants involved in this process.
  6. Critically review the way you measure the performance of your accountants. Focus on KPIs that measure the quality of client engagement, the completion of work in a timely manner and the identification of opportunities to add value to clients.
  7. Provide training and coaching to your accountants that incorporates all of the skills and capabilities required to progress to manager. Refer to the 7 professional quotients outlined earlier in this article. Note that just one of these PQs refers to technical skills.

The Young Accountant eLearning Course – 2018 enrolments now open

‘The Young Accountant’ 16-part eLearning Course is specifically designed to accelerate the process of developing key communication, workflow and organisational skills of accountants in public practice.

In this course.

  • We’ll show your young accountants how to really take control of their time, their clients and their workflow – to develop core skills of effective communication, workflow management, client relationship management, team collaboration and personal time and task management.
  • We’ll demonstrate how they can show curiosity about numbers and clients to drive innovation in your firm, rather than simply acting as number crunchers.
  • We’ll help them to engage with the people around them, become more proactive and how to take responsibility for their time and their work.

CLICK HERE to view the course brochure.

Just some feedback from previous course participants:

When I first enrolled in this course I was sceptical, after all what could I learn after already working in public practice for 4 years? I was wrong – this is the most beneficial course I have completed since deciding back in year 12 that I wanted to be an accountant (even more so than my degree or CPA)! It teaches you so many of the basic skills required to operate as efficiently as possible and encourages you to think in new ways and approach difficult situations from a new angle. The slides/presentations are easy to understand and Dale was always on hand when I had any questions. I would highly recommend this course to any young accountant and can’t even imagine how much more rewarding it would be to someone who has just started out in their career.

This course has been very beneficial in my development. I found it to be informative and comprehensive. I have learnt – Methods to overcome bottlenecks on jobs – How to actively listen – How to structure my workday to improve my efficiency – how to better engage with clients. I have learnt that using SMART actions enables me to complete tasks more effectively. I have learnt to be more confident in engaging with my manager.

This course is simply great! The presentation and slides are straightforward for us to understand, but meanwhile it’s highlighting things that are important for us accountants to add value to our client, to our firm and to ourselves. As an accountant who’s been in the industry for 5 years, I still learnt quote a lot from this course. I can imagine how beneficial this is going to be for those who have just started their career.

I think this course has been very helpful as it makes you self-review as well as make numerous goals to set and achieve. I have not done any other courses that have been as helpful in assessing myself by making me think about my current level of capability and all the different things I can do to continually improve my professional development.

For more feedback from course participants, CLICK HERE

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