Accountants, it’s time to keep up or fall way behind. Better yet, learn how to get and stay ahead. Because, while change has been a constant for decades – thank you, Bob Dylan – it’s reaching warp speed.
That’s the overarching message of a new series of webcasts from the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants – the combined CIMA and AICPA – called the “Human Intelligence Series.” And, appropriately enough, it’s called “Beat the bot: An introduction to our new series designed to prepare your career for the future.”
The 13 webcasts available on Facebook Live or through nano learning offer a variety of discussion topics pertinent in today’s professional world. But the first two webcasts point to key issues facing accountants today: the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) and the necessity to increase your technological know-how.
The first webcast, “Emotional Intelligence,” makes clear that people skills (EQ) are far different from intelligence (IQ). And we all know highly intelligent people who simply don’t know how to read the room, so to speak, or how people perceive them.
Emotional intelligence, therefore, affects workplace success because those who are adept at it know these three things gain them a lot of traction in dealing with clients and colleagues:
The ability to recognize yourself. Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Are you socially self-aware (how you’re perceived by others)?
Situational awareness. That’s that “reading the room” talent. If you walk into a client meeting, can you sense the mood before anyone speaks?
Responding appropriately. You customize your behavior to your audience. So, if you’re always a direct sort of communicator, you need to drop that one-size-fits-all approach and realize you need to tailor your response to the situation or client or colleague.
In the second webcast, “Future Proof Your Career,” AICPA’s Clar Russo, vice president of member learning and competency, drops a bombshell: In the next few years, 40 percent of what accountants and finance professionals do will be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI).
Ouch. What to do? Bolster the cognitive skills that bots and AI don’t have. That includes more critical thinking, and complex and creative problem-solving.
And, yes, it circles back to EQ, she says. People leadership will be critical, and that includes playing nicely with others – such as key stakeholders.
So how crucial will these skills be and how soon? “Yesterday,” Russo said.
Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.