A while back I met with a CFO of a privately owned steel fabrication business. Their revenue was over $100m and they employed a workforce of just over 200. To protect the innocent, lets call the CFO Jack as in the great Jack Nicholson. I asked Jack the following question – What is the most important quality or attribute you look for in an accountant?
Integrity, supported by the capability to get the job done. A strong, considered independent viewpoint with the comfort to communicate in a frank and open manner. Having a clear understanding of the genuine incremental value of what can be provided to an organisation. Maintaining a consistent reputation with an acceptance of past failures and an ongoing focus on improving the quality of their offer. An attribute that I would like to see more of is the nurturing of commercial acumen across the range of individuals in the accounting firm and the application of that into the dialogue of business thought and sentiment.
Jack is offering a most interesting insight here: nurturing commercial acumen across all the professionals in the accounting firm, not just the partners or directors. The definition of the word “acumen” is to have the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions, typically in a particular domain. So it follows that commercial acumen refers to an individual’s ability to exercise judgment and make quick decisions in a commercial setting. It is vital that individuals coming into a firm as graduates, and those moving through the ranks, are given the opportunity to develop and grow their abilities to judge a situation and make an informed decision. No number of courses, workshops or reading books can ever take the place of a younger inexperienced accountant being mentored and nurtured by more experienced professionals within the firm. If you’re a partner or a director, a key part of being a leader is to grow those in your team. By doing so, you will help your clients, your firm and yourself. Sounds like a great deal!
Until next time,