Accounting is about numbers, money, and cash flow, but it is also about people. To stand out in the marketplace and be the type of firm that clients stick with, your firm needs to do more than provide traditional accounting services. Your team needs to have people skills—or be willing to learn them. By dedicating time to training your staff on some of the softer skills, you can connect with your clients and differentiate your firm in the marketplace.
Important Accounting Soft Skills
Here are some of the most important soft skills you can develop in your team.
Your accounting team may be used to talking to other accountants and finance professionals and getting their points across, but you can’t expect clients to understand all the industry’s jargon and lingo. To communicate effectively with your clients, you must simplify accounting and financial concepts so that they understand how it relates to their business. Often, the simplest way to do this is by using real-life examples. Your clients may not need to know the exact definition of a debt ratio if they can grasp what can happen to a business when it takes on too much debt.
When performing traditional accounting tasks like bookkeeping, an accountant doesn’t need to be very persuasive. But if your firm offers advisory services, your team must consider how your advice comes across. If your clients trust you to advise them, you need to embrace the role. They are looking for guidance from professionals with years of financial and business experience. Present your advice with authority and use examples from your past if you want your clients to listen.
Accounting is a highly dynamic industry. It is important to adapt quickly to changes, not only to changes in technology and regulations, but to changes in your clients’ businesses. Showing your support as you navigate unforeseen challenges together communicates your client-centered priorities, leading to more trust. That could mean upgrading your accounting system every few years. While this can be a stressful process, it often pays off by allowing your firm to keep ahead of trends and remain competitive. An adaptable accounting professional will anticipate changes, stay calm in stressful situations, think quickly, and be able to deal with occasionally capricious workloads.
It is important for your clients to know you are dependable. Your clients depend on you to provide information on the financial health of their business, so it is vital that you give them communication options when you aren’t able to address their questions immediately and answer them with the type of urgency that reflects their importance to your firm.
Running a business is rarely trouble-free. Most businesses are full of problems that need to be solved, and most of these problems have some financial impact. By gaining detailed knowledge of your clients’ goals and obstacles, you demonstrate how important your clients are to you. Additionally, your firm is also in a better position to use its years of experience to proactively solve your clients’ business problems and become one of their most valuable assets.
Empathy is another important soft skill you can bring to the table with your clients. As an accounting professional, you must be able to see situations from more than just your perspective and step into your clients’ shoes to address their needs and fears. This is especially true when you are providing advisory services. It allows you to be kind and help your clients solve problems that they may see as insurmountable.
Meeting or exceeding time expectations is an easy way to show your clients you care about them and their business. Time management has always been an essential skill for accounting professionals simply because of how focused the profession is on deadlines. But lately, it has even become more important with the widespread shift to remote work. Plus, when a firm adds advisory to the services they offer, it adds even more complexity to managing time because advisory services don’t have a static endpoint. Time management is a skill worth working on, and often, the simplest tactic you can implement to help improve time management is accounting automation.
How PABS Can Help You Improve Your Personal Touch
Pacific Accounting & Business Services (PABS) provides white-label services for CPAs, bookkeepers, and tax professionals. When you outsource some or all of your bookkeeping and day-to-day tasks to PABS, you get more time to build relationships with your clients, examine their needs, and provide them with the advisory services they’ve been asking for. Learn more by connecting with PABS today!