Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Successfully Managing Your Career Requires Good Communication

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Successfully Managing Your Career Requires Good Communication

Article excerpt

If I were asked to identify the most prevalent failing of accountants, it would be the inability to effectively communicate, both orally and in writing. This isn't unique to the accounting profession, of course; communication is perhaps the most troublesome area in many disciplines.

But by neglecting to incorporate these nonaccounting skills into their overall professional development, CPAs not only shortchange their career potential, they can even inadvertently mislead their clients, despite having done good work for them.

For example, a friend of mine experienced the result of poor communication in his dealings with his accountant, a top-notch professional who'd done fine work for a long time. One year, after doing a thorough and exhausting analysis of my friend's finances, the accountant gave him a written report in which he recommended that my friend take certain actions. The advice was good but because of the accountant's use of ambiguous language my friend misunderstood one of the steps suggested and took the opposite action, losing money as a result.


The importance of combining technical knowledge with effective communication skills was demonstrated a number of years ago in a study conducted by Purdue University. Although the subjects were young engineers, the lessons learned also are valid for the accounting profession.

Purdue's engineering graduates were as well educated as graduates from other fine universities, but Purdue found that its graduates hadn't climbed as high or as fast on the corporate ladder as had other schools' graduates. Seeking a reason, the school compared its curriculum with those of the other schools. The answer was clear: Alth core engineering curricula were similar, the other universities required many more courses in oral and written communication. Purdue revamped its curriculum, adding communications courses, and saw significant improvements in the career progression of its engineering graduates. …

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