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A hard truth for accountants: you need to be good with words as well as numbers.

Doing some great analysis and having useful insights counts for little if you cannot communicate them and yet these skills are not a core part of accounting training. As a result many accountants and auditors are not as good at written communication as they need to be.

Chris Argyris wrote a seminal article for Harvard Business Review entitled, Teaching Smart People How to Learn.

The gist of the article is that smart people are almost always successful at what they do. They pass exams and job interviews and so on. Because they rarely fail they haven’t learned the skill of learning from failure.

The problem with this is that when they fail at something they become defensive, screen out criticism and look to blame someone or something else.

When it comes to accountants I think there is something similar about learning soft skills like writing. If you’ve managed to pass accounting exams (where more of the marks are for content than style) and get a good job, why would you try to improve your writing?

Well, better writing results in clearer communication. That will save time and money within your organisation and reduce the risk of mistakes based on misunderstandings. It will also be better for clients. If clients are more satisfied then they are more likely to give you repeat business.

And on a personal level, accountants who write well stand out from the crowd so it would enhance your career prospects.

You owe to your colleagues, clients and yourself to learn to write better.

Gary Bandy Limited is a company registered in Cardiff, number 5660437.

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