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Be a storyteller, students told

Anyone entering the accountancy profession must understand that being good with numbers and doing the accounts isn’t what the future profession will be about (and perhaps never was).

August 2018

As we all enter the digital world ‘personality and communication’ will be the key skills to get you to the top.
That was the rallying call from all the employers and professional body speakers at the recent PQ/LSBF ‘Being Global: Future-proof your career in accountancy’ conference.
CIMA’s CEO Andrew Harding told delegates that they must become a storyteller, and the numbers alone won’t let you do that. He explained that disruption and change are the new normal. That means PQs need to stay relevant and refreshed even after they qualify. “Obtaining a professional accountancy qualification used to be a 40-year job promise,” he said. But he added that those days are long gone, broken by progress and technology. Today’s accountants need to add value and look forward, as there are no prizes for being a scorekeeper anymore!
It means tomorrow’s accountants need to learn, unlearn and relearn over and over again in their career, emphasised Harding.
Ethics and trust also look set to move up the agenda as AI takes over the transactional processes.
Employers are also increasingly expecting PQs who are more confident in dealing with data. The NAO’s Nav Gudra told delegates they expect candidates to be good early on with data tools. But business partnering and those softer skills, which help influence and add value, are increasingly coming to the fore, she stressed.
Kingston Smith partner Mark Twum-Ampofo said his firm looked for a questioning mind-set and adaptability in its PQ and NQs.
Interestingly, he said that he liked graduates who had ‘real’ work experience. And he included working for Next and MacDonald’s in that, rather than someone who had done two weeks of non-paid work somewhere. Working at Next means you are client facing in some way and have to develop your communication skills and worked in a team, he suggested.
At the interview he also wants to see ‘genuine interest’ in the firm, he said.
Pro-recruitment’s Tom Eagle stressed that PQs must never underestimate the power of social media has on their career, too. He said employers have phoned him to cancel interviews after they have viewed Facebook and Instrgram pages. He stressed, too, that everyone should have a good LinkedIn page.

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