One big four firm director believes that as technology continues to infiltrate the industry, accountants will shift back to traditional skills to attract and retain clients, and are likely to start "banging their drum" for their firm as competition intensifies.
Big 4 tips 'full circle' move for accountants
KPMG Enterprise director Fleur Telford told Accountants Daily that the skills accountants need have done a full circle back to the traditional set.
Accountants should “focus back on the traditional skill set that is centred around knowing your clients, being comfortable with having conversations with your client, being comfortable with approaching new clients, business development skills, networking skills, all those traditional things,” Ms Telford said.
“It’s not that they're fallen by the wayside but we became so engrossed in the delivery that a lot of these skills weren't as highly valued as they should be and they seriously need to be highly valued in the future because that processing that we were so busy doing is drying up.”
Ms Telford says she predicts a change in the type of accountant that we will see over the next five to 10 years.
“I anticipate they will still be highly technical, but they will be less introverted and more extroverted with a greater willingness to get out there and bang their drum for their firm,” she said.
“That is where the strength of the firm is going to be in attracting and keeping clients at a personal level. The systems are going to be such as that you will get delivery in most firms but it will come down to that traditional relationship that you hold with your client.”
Dean Sammut from MMT Accountants and Advisors recently called on universities to review their accounting degree curriculums and look to include more courses on soft skills.
“We proclaim to be experts in numbers but clients are able to do the back office stuff automatically now through the automation of technology, so where we can provide value is in explaining how those different things impact their businesses and help them to make decisions,” he said.
“I think where clients actually value our relationships, it’s really the soft skills that we can provide them.”
Ms Telford added that the desire for human interaction will never go away for the clients.
“Clients will even pay more for that service in comparison if they are happy with the relationship they have with that firm,” she said.
“People like people, despite the robots and the machines and the technology, we're still a social creature and we still like to talk to another human being.”