This is a topical item. It is claimed that having gone to public school, and speaking with a posh accent, is the key to success in life. Well I did go to public school, but my accent hardly betrays the fact. Should I be taking elocution lessons?
I think that if I did, I would soon be sitting in an empty office. I would suggest that accountancy firms in general adapt themselves so that the range of people they employ matches the range of clients that they have. If all the clients speak with posh accents, then accountancy staff should learn to talk proper as well. Most clients do not, so accountancy staff should adapt themselves.
The main thing is to speak with an accent which gets you understood. I was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, and can easily do the well-known local accent. However, attempting to speak Geordie elsewhere in the country means that I will simply not be understood, and won’t get business. People with posh accents do have an advantage here, because they are speaking something like BBC English, and everybody will understand them if they don’t overdo the “rah” factor. Everybody else should just accept that speaking in a broad local accent can be a problem elsewhere in the country. The main point of language is to communicate, and if you cannot do this to a variety of people, then you are in trouble.
New technology, of which I am a prime advocate, is likely to be a great leveller. We will be looking for people with computer skills as part of their portfolio, and anybody can have these. Balance this with the ability to communicate, don’t have a chip on your shoulder, and stop worrying.
David Porthouse & Co is a firm of accountants based in Carlisle and serving clients in Cumbria and North West England. We have a major interest in new technology and we are developing an optical number recognition/datepoint system for scanning bank statements with the intention of reducing the cost of accounts preparation. We also have a spreadsheet system which can be e-mailed back and forth.