Wanted: Accountants Who Can Think

In a study on recruiting within the accounting profession, Grant Thornton LLP found that a majority of CFOs identified their major recruiting challenge as “not enough individuals in the market with the necessary soft skills (e.g., critical thinking and problem solving, negotiating and communication.)” Specifically they were looking for candidates with “greater use of judgement in the application of accounting principles” and “increased reliance on data analysis to enhance decision-making.”

Many CFOs interviewed found that “accounting professionals possess deep theoretical knowledge which is due to the emphasis on rules-based accounting and modeling in the United States, yet those same individuals struggle when asked to conduct a general analysis or diagnose an issue from a practical or business application perspective.”

The accounting world been criticized over the past few years after some headline- dominating blunders and it’s refreshing to see that CFOs are recognizing the role that critical thinking can play in shaping the profession.


  1. ETF,

    Great post on CPA’s and critical thinking. This issue has been prevalent for decades but is surfacing now due to changes in business needs. CPA’s need to be well rounded business professionals, not just accountants, if they want to add more value in their organizations.

    I’m a CPA (since 1992) but I spend my time a management consultant and trainer. I approached the Virginia Society of CPA’s several years ago on this very topic. There were CPE courses on the technical aspects of accounting, audit and tax but virtually none in the areas mentioned in the study. I’m now a preferred speaker for the VSCPA on topics including: team building, project management, change management, process improvement, creativity and innovation. (http://www.vscpa.com/Content/education_networking/in-house_cpe.aspx#3)

    It will be very hard for CPA’s or accountants to step up and change their image in the marketplace until they consistently view management and leaderships skills to be as important as technical accounting skills. Thanks for posting this!

    Derrick Strand

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