If you were asked to rank an accountant’s skills in order of importance, you might not place interpersonal skills high on that list. But the ability to create personal relationships has now become indispensable, argues Director of AR Advisors Mark Giglia.
“Cloud accounting has greatly reduced the amount of time we spend processing debit and credit transactions,” Giglia says, referring to accounting programs, such as Xero and MYOB, where data can be stored and accessed online.
“We can now use real-time data to advise clients on their business performance and focus on reporting against our clients’ key performance indicators.
“Solutions don’t come from a spreadsheet. They come from creative thinking and a strong, close working relationship between advisor and client.”
In fact, interpersonal skills are the now the most requested set of skills for accountants across Australia and New Zealand, according to a study of more than 39,000 advertisements published in the Accounting Education journal in 2018.
“Accountants don’t work in the background anymore,” Giglia says.
“They need to be comfortable advising clients face to face.”
Giglia has worked at Perth-based accountancy firm AR Advisors – an early adopter of digital advances in tax, compliance and cloud-based bookkeeping – since 1992.
Lately, under the leadership of both him and the other directors, the company has transitioned into new areas, including virtual chief financial officer (CFO) services offered as part of its gold or platinum business bundles.
This means AR Advisors will undertake a holistic analysis of its clients and provide recommendations as to how its clients can improve their bottom lines.
These services align with the latest industry insights by NAB in their 2018 Key Insights into the Australian Accounting Industry report, which found that one in five Australian small-to-medium enterprises want additional help with their business strategy, and advice on financial future and growth opportunities, on top of the services they already receive.
“We want to work on strategies with our clients that will enhance their key drivers of revenue and build efficiencies in the delivery of those costs,” Giglia says.
“By having people who can go beyond the numbers and work in collaboration with our clients to help them reach their objectives, we deliver greater client satisfaction, which in turn benefits our business.”
Giglia, who is also a Director of Perth-based self-managed super fund business Altimus, thinks students who choose to study at Curtin will be well placed for a successful career in the rapidly evolving accounting industry.
“My accounting degree gave me a strong basis of knowledge to start my career in public practice.
“I was also given the skills to become a self-starter, which have been very useful in my career. I believe that if you can motivate yourself to work hard, you’ll achieve great results.”
To ensure students build their interpersonal skills, Giglia thinks it’s important students network with their peers and industry professionals.
“A degree can teach you the ‘what’ but at the end of the day, a lot of business, especially when it comes to career progression, is about the ‘who’, as in your reputation and who knows about you.”