This article was first published in the February 2019 International edition of Accounting and Business magazine.

This is the first president’s column I have written since the turn of the year, and the most important thing I want to do in it is ask ‘how are you?’

I have made a New Year’s resolution to improve my small talk. When we are in a rush and heavily focused on getting the job done, it is very easy to skip the pleasantries and get straight down to business. In the short term, this behaviour may seem effective, but I have come to realise that, in the longer term, it demonstrates an acute lack of emotional intelligence on my part.

Asking ‘how are you?’ not only provides basic information to assess how the other person is feeling, but also enables you to benchmark your own emotional state. These are the building blocks of your emotional quotient (EQ).

It is great to see the article in this month’s issue about emotional intelligence, because human interaction and relationships are crucial to our profession and to our own personal development. Unfortunately, and perhaps unfairly, the accounting profession has traditionally had a reputation of being all about the numbers rather than the people.

In an increasingly technology-led future, sustainable advantage will not come from competing with machines. It is more likely to come from developing our EQ and enhancing the skills and competencies inherent in our humanity – such as influencing, empathy and perspective-taking.

The good news, for both you and me, is that EQ can be learnt. This and many other insights are in one of our latest publications Emotional quotient in a digital age.

More generally, we are always very keen to know how our members and students feel about ACCA. I encourage you to give us any feedback you can – the easiest way is by taking part in our regular customer satisfaction surveys.

Robert Stenhouse is a director, national accounting and audit, at Deloitte in the UK.