The Three P’s – Public Speaking, People Skills and Practice Development
These are probably the least addressed skills that provide for a successful career in public accounting – people skills, public speaking, and practice development. Developing these talents can be challenging, but it can be done. People skills are crucial from several different vantage points. A CPA needs to build relationships with clients, staff and referral sources. This means being able to speak with clients and relate to their personal and business needs (remembering that the customer always comes first), being able to assign work, train, motivate and mentor staff, and developing a rapport with attorneys, bankers, real estate agents and other professionals who will refer business to the practice.
Furthermore, CPA’s are sought after for their expertise. This means that they are often asked to speak at seminars, meetings, and other group functions. For those who aspire to the Audit world, addressing company Boards is a required practice. Thus, public speaking is a necessity for the successful CPA. Through training and practice, this is a skill that anyone can master.
If you add people skills and public speaking together, you get practice development. So many accounting graduates will indicate that they aspire to become an owner in a CPA firm, yet, they don’t completely realize what it takes to achieve this. Practice development is the function of building a book of business (or clients). It can be achieved through many avenues, including speaking at seminars, writing articles, networking at various events, developing referral sources, participating on a civic, charitable or other Boards, etc. Whatever the method, the successful CPA needs to understand that it means going above and beyond a nine-to-five job.