Want Advancement? Work on Your Writing.

Sep 20, 2022

By Elizabeth Harkness

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Accountants primary focus is often numbers, of course, but strong writing skills are critical to your advancement. Here’s why:

1.  Basic communication calls for clear writing

Most accountants dedicate a significant amount of time to writing emails and other correspondence.  You need to ask and answer client questions. You may need to respond to notices from or submit inquiries to the Internal Revenue Service.  Accountants also need to communicate internally with their teams or the organization.  Regardless of your level or who you are writing to, those who demonstrate the ability to write clear and concise messages set themselves apart from their number crunching peers. 

2.  Need to translate technical information

A financial statement might make perfect sense to you but for many clients, these documents may read like a foreign language. To make this complex data digestible, you’ll need to remove the technical verbiage and convert the information into terms that a non-accountant can understand. That means developing a writing style that is clear, succinct and coherent for accountants and clients alike.

 3.  Adjust to different modes of communication

Long gone are the days when clients only spoke to their accountants by phone or in-person meetings. Annual white papers sharing legislation changes or regulation standards are also a thing of the past.  Today, written thought and ideas are shared in all kinds of platforms—emails, proposals, contracts, reports, internal memos, text messages, social media posts, blogs, etc.—and all are shared much more frequently.  Accountants are pushing out written thought more than ever. 

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With increased writing frequency and many formats, the ability to apply the appropriate tone for each platform is critical. As a strong writer, you will know how and when to inject a personal feel while always maintaining a professional tone. 

Yes, accountants are masters of data and numbers, but they shouldn’t neglect their writing skills. Whether drafting technical documents, replying to a client’s email or engaging with your team, being able to write well will usher in more opportunities and advance your accounting career. 

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