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CPAs Admit That They’re Not Good Business People

Here's something interesting (hilarious, even) from the Indiana CPA Society's Center of Excellence: CPAs lack a bunch of important skills and they're completely aware of it.

The Society conducted a survey of over 600 CPAs across 30 states and found that the profession that constantly goes on about being "trusted advisors" to businesses and entrepreneurs, don't think too highly of themselves in areas like leadership, critical thinking, relationship building and entrepreneurship.

Some of the stats from the survey include:

  • Zero percent of senior/staff accountants ranked themselves high in critical thinking.
  • Thirty-five percent of managers ranked themselves low in relationship building.
  • Four percent of managers ranked themselves high in leadership.

And let's throw in some testimonials, like this guy with a grim outlook:

"As far as the skills necessary [for a CPA], an analytical mind with a touch of persistence and the ability to follow through are essential,” said one survey participant. “These skills are rare and seem to be becoming more rare when I look at the staff coming into the market these days.

Or this guy:

I work with a small CPA firm and have for the last [20+] years…The focus here is on technical skills. Skills related to leadership and communications aren’t discussed much,” said another survey participant. “Problem solving of the young staff is lacking as well. They seem to want to copy what was done before and not think for themselves.

“I hope that the organization structure will change and someone other than the partners can improve the culture so that this is more dynamic and resilient organization."

That's pretty amazing how he mentioned the firm where he's spent more than 20 years working focusing on technical skills and pivoted right at "young staff" using SALY and "not think for themselves."

And then here's a new partner, who actually says something meaningful:

"As a new Partner who worked in the private sector, I am shocked at the lack of business acumen applied at the partner level. We need to think and operate as a business."

The irony is just too much. Your average person on the street thinks a CPA is a good business person. The CPA profession talks about the value of the CPA, being the go-to "trusted business advisors"  and on and on, giving the impression that CPAs are good business people. Now we have a survey of CPAs saying, out loud, "Hey, we're not really good at this business stuff."

Accounting firms complain about staff lacking skills, that the necessary talent to take over their firms is scarce, that technology is to disruptive. I'd venture to say that any half-decent business person could solve or, at the very least, mitigate those problems. Like "new Partner" said above, many people currently at the highest levels of the firms don't have the necessary skills!

But, that's fine, they'll hold their staff and managers to new higher standard because, you know, the current business environment demands it.