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Soft skills increasingly important to client relationships

THE PACE of technological change is forcing more collaboration among accountants and their clients, with soft skills increasingly important to a firm’s success, delegates at the National Accountancy Day conference heard last week.

In a keynote address, Nancy McKinstry, CEO and chairman of information services and publishing company Wolters Kluwer, said that extending client relationships requires more than just technical skills; soft skills like communication and collaboration are coming to the fore.

“The ability to work anywhere, anytime is…forcing more collaboration,” she said. “Social media is transforming our business into a social business.

“The world is moving towards communicating and collaboration.”

Alongside developments in social media, big data is increasingly being harnessed by corprorates. According to McKinstry, clients now expect accountants to provide “in depth analysis on top of that data”.

Ten years ago, maths was seen as the most important skill for an accountant to possess. But this has now been supplanted by skills such as communication, collaboration and consultation. “It’s all about connectivity,” said McKinstry.

“There has to be a shift towards adoption of new technology to drive productivity and how you bring in those skills around communication, collaboration and consultation,” she said.

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