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Communication in the Accounting/Business Fields
There are many forms of communication utilized in today’s business world.
Written, verbal, and non-verbal communication, which can be learned in college, teach the necessary skills to communicate effectively in the accounting field. All of these forms of communication are valuable skills in the field of accounting. The single phone call and face to face meetings have not been totally eliminated, but with the advances in technology many other forms of communication have emerged at the forefront of doing business. In the accounting field you would be required to “prepare, examine, or analyze accounting record and financial statements” (ONET). Ensuring the information which you have prepared is accurately and quickly relayed is an important part of this field. Oral as well as written communication skills are necessary to make certain your findings, data, and analysis are accurately documented and communicated to your firm or clients. Advanced oral and written communication skills are an important tool in the accounting field, enabling you to make well-reasoned decisions and then put them into action. Although modern communication forms are quick methods compared to years ago they still have their challenges and many graduates entering the field of accounting find it is necessary to hone their skills to advance in the field of accounting.
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Forms of communication today in the accounting field involve emails, texting, social networks, conference calls, as well as video conferencing to name a few. Shannon Wild, Vice President of Information Technology for Brown and Root Industrial, tells of how “conference calls are a communication form which she uses in a typical day”(Wild). She goes on to say that while she prefers face-to-face communication, it is not practical with people working in different locations (Wild). She “almost always follows up with an email documenting the discussion so there is a clear record of what was said and agreed to” (Wild). This written documentation is important so there can be no disagreements later on the information. Written documentation is a major part of all communication today. Documentation is important to ensure all participants are on the same page, and in the accounting field, that the facts and figures are accurate. In the field of accounting for example, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) would be responsible for managing assets, budgeting, auditing, taxes, and preparing financial reports. All of these skills need written communication abilities to guarantee the financial statements are recorded accurately. No errors are acceptable if you are a CPA. Your clients rely on you to manage their assets properly. Not having the organization and written communication skills open you up to unwanted audits and difficulties in filing financial documents properly.
Modern forms of communication can also give rise to new problems. Using texting and Instant Messaging are great, quick forms. However, not being able to see the person’s body language could lead to information being misconstrued. This type of interpersonal communication where you are not able to see the person’s body language can be difficult to interpret. Not being able to look people in the eye is “frustrating” according to Mrs. Wild. She has had “challenges with people using aggressive tones in emails that they wouldn’t use face to face” (Wild). She also goes on to tell of her “frustrations during conference calls where employees are distracted and unfocused.” These modern forms of communication have made it very impersonal due to the distances in today’s workplaces. Many firms are national and global where face-to-face communication on a daily basis is not practical. Good communication skills to assure your words are spoken clearly and you also are listening precisely play a large role in todays accounting business. It is not only important to relay your information to other co-workers, but listening skills are needed to ensure everyone is on the same page. Coordination of meetings to keep projects on track cannot be accomplished without verbal communication skills.
The accounting fields require not only for you “to examine and prepare financial documents but you must explain your findings” (Bureau Labor Statistics). Many people are not familiar with complex financial matters and it is up to the accountant in a business to convey their findings or point their clients in the correct direction. In the accounting field, it is important that you have good communication between you and your clients. An accountant must be able to express their findings and then convey their financial plans to the clients. Both the accountant and the client must clearly agree on the expectations and goals that will take place. This financial plan cannot be conveyed without good forms of communication. Both verbal and written have a part in this process.
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Louisiana State University (LSU) has recognized the importance and need for communication skills, and has instituted requirements in their degree programs. An accounting major must complete English requirements as well as communication requirements to attain their degree. Writing skills are learned through the English Department by taking classes such as English 1001 and 2000 courses. These English classes teach a “purpose for writing” as well as the ‘audience for whom we write” (LSU Catalog). The English classes objectives are to educate you on how to “interpret and evaluate” information, which you have gathered (LSU Catalog). This is an important process in the accounting field. Information in the accounting field needs to be interpreted, analyzed and evaluated to make sure there is no misinterpretation with the gathered information. (ONET). The English classes also teach a student to “integrate information from sources into writing, and document this information appropriately” (LSU Catalog). Documentation is an absolutely necessary skill in the accounting field. LSU English classes also focus on how to “integrate information from sources into writing and document this information appropriately” (LSU Catalog). Fact gathering is another skill accountant’s use that is being taught by LSU. These classes are necessary for the accounting field as “presentations, fact-finding, documentation, and reports are a part of the daily job” (LSU Catalog).
LSU additionally requires communication classes to complete the accounting degree program. These classes, such as CMST 2061 (Business and Professional Communication) and 2064 (Small Group Communication), educated in the areas of business communication. These classes teach “presentations, group decision making, parliamentary procedure and interviewing”(LSU catalog). The small group communication class was a class I experienced over the winter semester. This class gave me a greater understanding of how group projects would work in a business atmosphere. Since this class was offered online I was informed I needed to communicate with others in my group to complete a group project. This of course needed to be accomplished through written communication via texting and emails. I found that just as Mrs. Wild previously discussed, the inability to plan meetings face to face because of logistics was concerning. This course showed me how to maneuver through a project without any forms of personal meetings. It also gave me a greater understanding of how necessary it was to be on the same page as others in my group. Ensuring my findings were accurate and that I relayed the information properly for our project was necessary for its completion. I was fortunate to have reliable teammates. I could see where there would be downfalls if students who were involved did not complete their tasks. Just as in a business atmosphere, it is extremely important to compile and relay your information timely and accurately, so as not to miss deadlines and slow down future progress in the business.
Louisiana State University is correct in recognizing the needs for communication skills in the LSU graduates. In an article by Leticia Camacho, she describes the communication skills which accounting firms deem necessary or desire in new hires. This article was about a survey conducted with Human Resources managers from accounting firms. It was trying to determine the “expectations of future accounting graduates” (Camacho). They were looking to see if new hires had the oral and written communication skills they found necessary for their company’s positions. The survey consisted of seven questions using participants who had worked for each company for at least five years. They also were “familiar with recruiting, hiring, training, and advancement practices within their companies” (Camacho). Their study confirmed that communication was a necessary skill to succeed in the accounting field. Students with greater communication skills found their leadership opportunities became more available. They also found there to be a greater need for more communication courses for students to become more successful in this field. The point they made was poor communication skills by an employee would show “the firm being represented poorly” (Camacho) which is not what a company strives to convey to its customer.
Communications skills play a major role in the areas of accounting. From conference calls to written reports all of these skills need to be honed to make you successful. The successful completion of the LSU English and Communication classes will put you on your path to better communication skills, which you will be able to adapt to the field of accounting.
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