Technical expertise – just how important is it?

A while ago I met with the CFO of a $150m+ agribusiness and asked him the question …

How important is technical expertise in an accountant?

It’s extremely important.  What you’re paying for is their level of expertise and so they need to be able to give you that right level of expertise for that particular assignment that you’re engaging them in.  It’s the crux of it all.  They need to have the right skill sets to be suited to the particular work assignment at hand.  You don’t want a generalist normally; you want someone who can come in, do the specific assignment that you want them to do, deliver it in the most efficient, effective manner, and then be out again, because that is what you are paying for.

Do clients expect a certain level of expertise and skill when they engage a Big Four accounting firm?

Absolutely, yes.  With one of the larger firms, you do go in with an automatic assumption that they’re very well prepared.  That’s always been my experience.  I’ve never had any difficulties with that.  The issue more is in the level of staffing that they put on a particular engagement, and whether you get the junior who you end up training on the job, or whether you get someone who’s actually pitched at the right level that you need.  If you get the junior you find that they’re having to rework things as they go back to the partner and change things. So often with a larger firm it’s not the quality at the partner level, it’s the quality of the staff that are put onto the assignment and whether their skillset and experience is at the right level.

Enough said.

See you next time,

James E.