The Accountants of The Future: Test Scores Versus People Skills

At The Orbit Group, we know you want the right person for your small business accounting, SMSF and taxation advice. However, the right person doesn’t always stem from the smartest student.

Dealing with finances, taxation and business advisory needs more than high test scores alone. It takes personality, people skills and a dash of around-the-corner thinking. That’s why articles about a recent change to Ernst and Young’s student recruiting policies got us talking.

Ernst and Young UK have scrapped their policy of only hiring the highest of grade scores for university graduates in accounting. We think it points to a positive change in the accountancy industry for the future.

Here’s a little snapshot of The Orbit Group conversation on the subject. And why we believe you need more then book smarts to make a decent accountant.

The perpetually curious go-getter (and our fabulous bookkeeper) Amelia thinks the move is a positive one. To Amelia, it highlighted the fluid and dynamic relationship modern workers have with their career.

“My working background is creative. When I was young, I would never have expected to end up working as a Bookkeeper and working for an accountant – especially considering maths wasn’t my best subject. However maths hasn’t stopped me learning what I need to do to be successful and happy in this role. Academic education is important. But I believe that communication, common sense and kindness are way more important in the workplace – and in life,” shared Amelia.

Highlighting the importance of clear communication and empathy shows a lot about Amelia’s approach to bookkeeping and client management. And it’s something we count as a massive plus at The Orbit Group. There’s a lot more to wrangling the tax office or solving a creative business problem then algebra.

Our founder and lead accountant Greg was also quick to give two thumbs up.

“I am surprised it has taken them this long to work it out! I would never have been chosen based upon previous criteria. When I went to uni, I made a conscious effort to balance my further education experience. I focussed my talents both on my academic studies whilst still enjoying the social aspects of university life to grow and mature. I wanted a well-rounded experience, not just a well-used library card. Today, though, I can guarantee I would have been chosen on talent. Attitude matters,” Greg enthused.

Greg’s passion for making accounting and tax simple and hassle-free clearly drives his excitement. Greg believes that the better you can relate to another person the quicker problems are solved, or concerns dismissed. And it’s part of his motivation for creating The Orbit Group in the first instance.

“Orbit will always focus more on communication skills, problem solving and application of good old common sense when recruiting. If they came top of the class that would be a bonus – but it’s not a replacement for the right attitude and communication abilities,” explained Greg.

While Kate didn’t begin her career in accounting, she knows the importance the right personality can make to any working relationship.

“I think it is a smashing idea. Here at The Orbit Group, we apply a similar principle. We place a higher onus on personality than theoretical skill. Yes, we recognise that skill is important, but we recognise that skills can be taught and nurtured over time. Kindness, open-mindedness, dedication and a can-do attitude cannot. It’s all about making a practical application of the knowledge you learn and applying it and translating it to best suit your client’s situation,” agreed Kate.

Will accounting in Australia follow the same line?

Working at the coalface of small business and startup accounting sees us wear many kinds of hats. We’re everything from a universal translator of government regulation to the kindly psychologist when the tax department has the heavy gloves on. We’re the cloud accounting boffin or the business advisor in your pocket. And we can be your virtual CFO and/or the people you count on to help with your future retirement via self managed super funds.

Money, business, tax – all these aspects are important parts of life that at times, can be quite emotional. It’s because they are so important personally and professionally. So yes, we’d love to see a move towards accounting students and a financial sector that has less technical terminology. The idea of more customer-centric, easy to relate to accountants at the helm is wonderful.

Hats off to Ernst and Young UK. Let’s see more of the same in future!

If you’re looking for accountants and bookkeepers who know their accounting as well as their people skills, contact The Orbit Group now.

You can pop into our office in Randwick or contact us from anywhere in Australia online.