To the casual observer, emotions and accountancy can seem like unrelated concepts from two separate worlds. But to succeed in an era of increasing digitisation, professional accountants need a rounded set of skills that go beyond technical knowledge, important as it is.

ACCA refers to these skills as the professional quotients – a unique model that encapsulates technical excellence, ethics, and a range of personal skills and qualities, one of which is the emotional quotient.

The findings from the report, Emotional quotient in a digital age, inform the view on both the level of EQ among accountancy respondents in this digital age, as well as the impact of technology on their need for EQ.

Speaking about the emotional quotient research, Helen Brand OBE, chief executive of ACCA said: ‘Many people have an intuitive sense of EQ, often expressed as something to do with emotions and interacting effectively with people. But it is important to go beyond this and critically reflect on the value embedded in emotions in today’s digital age. Being able to effectively harness this value is vital for success.’

The report notes that developing one’s EQ requires working on a range of competencies including a growth mindset, self-knowledge, perspective-taking, empathy and influence. The growth mindset emerged as a key enabler for the development of EQ and is a point of high leverage – for example, improvements here can help with those needed across all emotional competencies more generally.

The findings also showed that experience can be an enabler for improving EQ with higher scores for many competencies being correlated with the level of exposure to situations needing that competency. An implication of this is that EQ can be learned – it is not a magic trick, and like most other skills, it can be developed and improved over time. The more one focuses on it, the better it becomes.

A unique diagnostic tool has been launched alongside the report for individuals to self-assess their level of EQ against a credible global benchmark specific to the accountancy profession. The tool provides practical guidance on how to improve effectiveness in this competency.

The report also explores the multi-dimensional impact of technology on the need for EQ in professional accountants. This impact is articulated along six areas, namely: change readiness, increased diversity, ethics and beliefs, cognition and learning, human-machine interaction and shifting power (softer, rather than directive, forms of influencing).

‘Our report on the emotional quotient represents one step in our long-term commitment to providing the finance leaders and strategic professionals who will create the accountancy profession the world needs” concluded Helen Brand.

ACCA officially launched the report at The World Congress of Accountants 2018 in Sydney, Australia. The theme of the event is ‘Global Challenges. Global Leaders’ a topical area highlighting the importance of leadership in dealing with emerging threats that cut across boundaries. In this context, forming effective partnerships and developing strategic professionals who can truly think ahead with an emotionally intelligent mind-set has never been more important.

Emotional quotient in a digital age surveyed 4,660 respondents primarily comprising ACCA students, members and affiliates, with a small sample from 20 other International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) bodies. Respondents were from 139 countries. A series of interactive workshops were also carried out with 120 professional accountants participating in Australia, Canada, China, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore and the UK to determine the impact of EQ.

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