You’re an accountant, not a journalist.
You work with facts, figures and spreadsheets. You haven’t considered writing a novel in your free time, and the struggle of how to use the Oxford comma remains happily irrelevant. So why must you bother mastering writing skills?
The truth is, even as an accountant, language skills are essential to your career.
You’ll need to articulate your work to non-accountants
As an accountant, you’ll have insight into the strengths, weaknesses, dangers and opportunities facing a business. This information is invaluable but it’s useless if you can’t communicate it effectively. Financial data and terminology will be indecipherable to most people.
While analysing financial performance or preparing financial statements may be part of your day-today tasks, you need to be able to explain this information and what it means for your client or your business in practical terms that allows them to take action.
Written communication is on the rise
Once upon a time, boozy client lunches, long-distance conference calls and water cooler chinwags were standard in the world of business. Then the internet showed up and made communication faster and more efficient than ever.
Instead of giving a weekly presentation to the board, you can simply send out a written report. Fast-paced emails can replace long drawn-out meetings. Even office rumours are no longer whispered with a sideways glance, but discretely discussed in real-time via instant messaging.
With limited time to get key information to the right people, knowing how to be professional without being formal, avoiding jargon and engaging your reader allows you to be more persuasive and get what you want.
Every career relies on written first impressions
The first thing any new employer sees about you is your CV. It’s the golden ticket that gets you through the door and into the interviewer’s office: it’s vital that it’s up to scratch. You can be the best accountant on the planet, but if that information is hidden beneath mangled sentence structure and shoddy word choice, you’ll fall at the first hurdle.
Your CV isn’t the only written first impression you’ll make in your career either. Whether it’s a letter of engagement for a new client or your first email to a colleague, you’ll regularly introduce yourself via the written word.
And if you’re self-employed? Writing skills are even more important for you. When you work for yourself, you’re your own secretary, marketing guru and sales executive. It’s up to you to fill every role, which will inevitably involve a certain amount of writing.
Clarity, simplicity and brevity are more important than ever
The internet hasn’t just changed how we communicate, but also the way we absorb information. Accustomed to getting our knowledge from websites we’ve become skimmers, scanners and list junkies. Our attention spans are shorter and there’s a growing expectation for content to be as clear, simple and brief as possible.
Learning how to translate your ideas into bite-size, easy-to-digest pieces is useful for any profession, but particularly accounting, where giving your clients or bosses a clear understanding of the bigger financial picture is of essential.
Proper formatting, sentence structure and punctuation play a big role in this. By understanding the ‘rules’ of the English language (and how to apply them), you’re able to get your point across quickly and with minimal confusion.
If you are completing the Professional Diploma in Accounting, your internal controls and accounting systems report is your chance to demonstrate everything you’ve learned while studying, so you want to make the most of it. 5000 words is undoubtedly daunting, but the terror is exacerbated when you don’t know how to put your knowledge into words effectively. Learning how to write cogently and succinctly in a professional style will take some of the pressure off.
Plus, attention to detail is a must for accountants, so having perfect spelling and grammar demonstrates to assessors that you have what it takes to succeed.
Fortunately, it’s easy to brush up on your skills. An IGCSE English Language will give you a firm grasp on grammar, writing for a purpose, and forming an argument – skills that are essential to a successful accountancy career.
Lauren Jack is a content writer for ICS Learn.