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Climbing out of a Social Rut

Published on Friday, 20 Jun 2014

It's not just what you know, it's who you know that matters, says the adage. Successful accountants tell Robin Lynam how careers can be boosted with a little networking ability

In accounting, as in all professions, those who rise to the top tend to be those who are good at their jobs. That, however, is seldom all there is to the story. 

Successful professionals have usually managed to build up a broad-based network of contacts and connections, many of whom have been instrumental in helping them serve their clients, build their profiles and enhance their reputations. 

Of course, people who are merely good networkers will not advance far as Hong Kong Institute of CPAs members unless they are also skilled professionals. However, there are probably more than a few skilled accountants who are at a career disadvantage because they are not also skilled networkers. 

“The accounting profession has a very disparate range of services and a broad range of people who are involved in that space, some of whom are more introverted by nature and others who are more entrepreneurial and will be out every day building connections,” says Keith Pogson, a managing partner at Ernst & Young and past president of the Institute. 

Pogson sees networking as an essential part of social and professional life, and points out that those two areas often overlap. 

Some people, however, are naturally better at it than others. “From experience, accountants are generally singularly poor at structured networking,” adds Rupert Purser, a board member of the Asia Transformation and Turnaround Association, a group of professionals from business, law, banking and accounting with a focus on corporate restructuring. 

Purser, an Institute member, says creating opportunities for members to mingle through social events, seminars and discussion groups is a major focus of the association. “Accountants at large international firms rarely have to hunt for work, as it comes to them as statutory audit and assurance through their international networks,” adds Purser.

“Training on communication and marketing as well as related soft skills is, in my view, of great value to accountants who have in the past almost solely focused on technical skills training.” 


Source:  HKICPA's APlus Magazine – March 2013

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