According to an analysis of 26 accounting courses in Australia by University of South Australia adjunct researcher Dr Alan Reddrop, just one reference to “listening” was found in their curriculum.
This comes despite his survey of 140 business leaders followed by 59 interviews with CEOs and accounting firm partners revealing their listening skills were highly valued.
“You’ve got to talk about things that are relevant to the client, and 80 per cent of that comes down to using the right proportion, the ears versus the mouth,” one accountant said.
Another experienced adviser said of his colleagues: “They often give advice which is premature, off target, sounds plausible, but doesn’t work and can’t be implemented, simply because they haven’t taken the time to come to grips with the real issue or understand the person.”
Dr Reddrop believes that as artificial intelligence plays a bigger role in accounting, soft skills such as listening will be even more valued, a factor that educators need to recognise.
“Unfortunately, as an earlier study found, accounting educators by and large are an ageing, change-resisting faculty, which limits the power and will to change the status quo,” Dr Reddrop said.
“It is also concerning that in a recent study, accountancy graduates regarded listening and reading as the least important communication skills related to employability.”