I had a most insightful chat with two accountants on the Gautrain recently. When I introduced myself as a business communicator, they immediately related to the value of stakeholder relations. Traditionally, “bean counters” and “ponytails” have seen themselves on opposite sides of the table. For all our creativity, communicators have in the past not provided the accountants with the communication measurements that could be slotted into financial models. For their part, accountants had no real need for us – or so they thought. My interactions with accountants these days increasingly reveal a shift in the relationship between these two top professions. There are a number of reasons why communicators are becoming more important to accountants, and why we working together will achieve results for our clients:
- Stakeholder relations are now part of the governance models that guide the financial industry with the inclusion of a full chapter on stakeholder relations in the King III guidelines.
- Communication has developed into a profession. The IABC’s Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) status is on the same level as a chartered accountant (CA).
- Auditable stakeholder relations is very important as the consumers and stakeholders are becoming more demanding about not only financial transparency, but the way that companies conduct business in general.
- Integrated reporting is increasingly a requirement for listed companies and can only be done successfully when accountants and communicators work together.
- True strategic communicators are measuring the impact of their work on the business bottom line.
From the accountants’ perspective, communication has become a skill they need thanks to the changes to the Companies Act. Where the law previously only demanded that company financials be audited, financial professionals now have to explain the value and benefits of their services to their clients. As a result, financial professionals should work with communication professionals not only to enhance their client service portfolios, but also to manage client relationships and communicate the benefits of solid financial practices. DevCom can assist accountants from both angles – keeping your clients through relationship and not through compliance, and assisting your clients to build audit value in the non-financial areas, such as stakeholder relations. For the month of April, we offer accountants a free 2-hour Introduction to Strategic Communication session. Phone Mari on 0828633670 to book.