Survey Shows Accountants Want to Improve Business Skills

CPAs do not rank themselves highly in areas of critical thinking, leadership and relationship-building, according to a new survey of more than 600 CPAs in 30 states.

According to the survey, conducted by the Indiana CPA Society’s Center of Excellence:

  • 0% of senior/staff accountants ranked themselves high in critical thinking.
  • 35% of managers ranked themselves low in relationship building.
  • 4% of managers ranked themselves high in leadership.
  • Less than half of all CPAs ranked themselves high in communication skills.

The national benchmark survey, which was conducted earlier this year, asked more than 600 CPAs in public accounting to self-evaluate their level of proficiency in each of seven core competencies:

  • Communications
  • Leadership
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Anticipating and serving evolving needs
  • Synthesizing intelligence into insight
  • Integration and collaboration
  • Knowledge sharing

Some comments from the survey:

  • “As a new partner who worked in the private sector, I am shocked at the lack of business acumen applied at the partner level. We need to think and operate as a business.”
  • “As far as the skills necessary (for a CPA), an analytical mind with a touch of persistence and the ability to follow through are essential. These skills are rare and seem to be becoming more rare when I look at the staff coming into the market these days.

The CPA Center for Excellence is offering several tools to help CPAs develop the skills they need.

A new Insight Toolkit for HR and Career Development, centered on the CPA Core Competencies, allows professionals to go to to take a

self-assessment to see how they rank against colleagues in the benchmarking results, the survey says.

Upon completion, they have the option to register for a complete 360-assessment that gathers anonymous feedback from supervisors, peers, direct reports and/or clients. These assessments can be ongoing, as part of a staff review or an engagement review. Individuals can use the personal online learning journal tool within Insight to document comments and progress, as well as the action plans tool for outlining how they will build their skills.