Skills Required for Future Accountants - Soft skills more important than technical knowledge!
In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous workplace, accountants need to possess knowledge and skills across multiple disciplines. These include technological know-how, interpersonal and communication skills, critical thinking and creativity.
Longer and more structured internships, as well as apprenticeships are welcomed by the accountancy profession to enable accountancy students to understand real-world problems and determine where their passion lies.
These are some of the findings from a report produced by the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), with the Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Accountancy coming on board as knowledge partner.
The report, entitled “Industry Perspectives: Future of Professional Learning and Entrepreneurship”, is the second “Our Future Together” collaboration between ISCA and ICAEW, which aims to discuss how education, training and professional learning could be redefined to better develop and prepare professional accountants for the future economy.
Soft skills more important than technical knowledge
Focus group discussions and interviews with senior leaders, employers and young professionals were undertaken as part of the project. The young professionals emphasized the importance of soft skills in the workplace. They found themselves lacking in essential soft skills such as interpersonal and communication skills when they entered the workplace.
The report highlighted the need for accountants to be multi-disciplinary, and to acquire and develop skills and knowledge such as psychology, leadership, negotiation, critical thinking, creativity, predictive analytics, understanding of computer coding / programming, economics, risks, project management, business writing and persuasion skills.
Such skills and knowledge will enable accountants to make better decisions as well as facilitate their role as business advisers.
The young professionals today are driven to learn new skills and are keen to have a broader spectrum of knowledge so as to be more versatile in today’s VUCA environment. This is in line with the government’s narrative to broaden the breadth and depth of one’s skills and knowledge.
Respondents mentioned that attributes such as intellectual curiosity, resilience, adaptability, professional skepticism and good emotional intelligence are vital for accountants to address challenges in the fast-changing environment.