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Managing stakeholders to maximise your impact

Written by: EY Insights
Published on: 16 Feb 2024

For many, one of the most rewarding aspects of a career in audit is getting to work with a wide range of stakeholders across different industries. Working with different stakeholders is a great way to demonstrate your expertise, build trust and drive value. But whilst rewarding, stakeholder management requires a specific set of skills to ensure relationships are positive and productive.

Matt Wilcox, a Director in Assurance at EY UK, shares his thoughts to help you build successful stakeholder relationships.

Matt Wilcox

“Effective stakeholder relationships are not about being available 24/7. They are about building relationships based on trust though empathy and understanding.”

Build trust and credibility

Matt believes the foundation of any successful relationship is built on trust and credibility. To do this, he recommends setting realistic expectations with stakeholders and consistently delivering on your commitments:  

“A common pitfall is overpromising and underdelivering. It’s best to be open about other commitments and agree reasonable timeframes with stakeholders."

Being open, honest, and communicative, allows you to manage the expectations of your stakeholders and ensure that you have enough time to deliver high-quality work. When you consistently deliver high-quality work on time, this helps build a culture of trust and credibility.  

Matt’s top tip: I’ve tried lots of ways to keep track of deadlines and always come back to a handwritten to-do list. Crossing out completed tasks still brings a small sense of joy every time.

Communicate clearly

We all have preferred working styles. Some of us like to immerse ourselves in the detail of analysing numbers, others are passionate about storytelling to inspire outcomes, and some are focussed on delivering projects as efficiently as possible. This can affect not only the way we approach a task, but also how we communicate information to others. 

Although our preferred working styles may impact the way we deliver information to others, Matt feels that above all, it is the clarity of communication that matters most.
“Communicating clearly is easy to say, but hard to do. Before communicating with stakeholders, ensure you know exactly what question you’re asking, what information you need from them, and the deadline you’re working towards. Without understanding this yourself, you can’t effectively communicate this to the stakeholder.”

“Once you’re confident of your ask, make sure to communicate with your stakeholders in a clear and concise manner. It can also help to provide context on why you need certain information and why certain deadlines have been set. This can help stakeholders understand and prioritise your requests.”

By being clear, concise, and providing relevant context, you’re more likely to receive the information you need from stakeholders and maintain a positive relationship.

Be empathetic 

Regardless of the types of projects you work on, or stakeholders you work with, there are times when you may encounter challenges. Whether this is a deadline change, or an unforeseen issue, Matt finds that working through these challenges helps build the strongest and most successful relationships:

“When you encounter a challenge, it’s not always an easy road. Sometimes you need to make tough decisions, and other times there are no obvious right answer. When working through a challenge, try to remember that your stakeholders are people you work with – not just company names. Approaching situations with empathy and understanding can help strengthen your relationships.”

Matt also highlights that when challenges arise, it’s important to consider all the ways you can add value to the situation: 

“When faced with a challenge, reflect on your expertise and past experiences. Is there a unique point of view that you can bring to the situation? Similarly, encourage others around you to share their experience and expertise. Diverse perspectives can often lead to more effective solutions.”


Stakeholder management is an essential skill in assurance, but it’s something that takes time to learn and develop. You’ll get it wrong, we all do, but learning from mistakes and adapting is a critical step in your personal development journey. Take time to understand people for who they really are and what’s important to them, and don’t be afraid to share the things that are important to you too.

Building trust, communicating clearly, and approaching situations with empathy and understanding are essential to effective stakeholder relationships.

The exceptional EY experience. It’s yours to build.


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