Monday, June 25th, 2018

Talking and Writing

“The spoken word and the written — there is an astonishing gulf between them.” – Hercule Poirot 

The above quote from an Agatha Christie novel made me think of CPAs and all the other people working inside accounting firms.

Talking – – You have developed your own language. You never say individual tax return, you say 1040. You don’t say:

  • We need an Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate; you say we need a W-4.
  • We have the U.S. Return of Partnership Income; you say 1065.

Be careful, especially when talking to clients and new hires, that you answer questions in a way that is easily understandable for people not familiar with life inside a CPA firm. As for your new hires, they will soon be very comfortable with form numbers.

Writing – – So much is conveyed these days in writing. Email is our main form of communication with clients, business associates, and employees. I see first-hand that many CPAs rank poorly with grammar and spelling! After all, they are numbers people. More than once, I have talked with firm administrators and partners who are actually embarrassed, for the firm, because of a way a partner corresponds via email.

So, back to the quote. Are you easily able to put in writing clear, concise answers to your clients’ questions? Are you careful not to use CPA lingo that might not be understood by outsiders?

Some CPAs are skilled at putting things in writing yet find it difficult to convey verbally, and vice-versa. Talking and writing are things we can all work on to become more skilled and proficient.

  • "It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous."
  • Robert Benchley

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