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Groundbreaking Survey Reveals Accounting Professionals Desperately Need Communication Skills

Make sure you're sitting down before you read this incredible news courtesy the March survey of 422 public and private CFOs, controllers, chief accountants and other senior finance executives [note: free subscription required to read the article]:

The results show that today’s accounting and finance staffs have more than enough data skills. But they often lack the ability to wade through the numbers successfully to communicate with senior management, according to the respondents, who represent U.S. corporations with sales of between $50 million to over $1 billion.

What skill is most lacking in today's finance and accounting professionals?  “Communicating with other groups” tied for first place among the respondents with “thinking about the company’s goals and focus as a whole.” Each answer drew a  29 percent response rate, followed by 25 percent who said “displaying abilities to take charge of situations,” 9 percent who chose applying IT skills, and 8 percent who said “traditional finance understanding.”

Here's the chart:

Gud riting skillz won't just help you pass BEC, they are essential to moving through the ranks. “The people that rise to the positions of senior team leadership or controllership typically have [verbal and written communication] skills,” said CBIZ CFO Ware Grove:

Focusing on data is a typical quality of most accountants, from entry level on up, says Grove. But they often underestimate the importance of softer skills like effective communication. “If people are frustrated with the controller, it’s not that the controller isn’t working until 8 p.m. or attending to details, it’s because he perhaps doesn’t communicate well,” he says. 

Or he spends all day on Going Concern practicing his communication skills on trolls instead of mentoring young staff and writing killer memos?

You can find related survey results from on Non-U.S. CFOs Donning Green Eyeshades and New Hires: A Skills-and-Demand Balancing Act here.