The accounting industry in changing rapidly, requiring a combination of accredited qualifications and excellent interpersonal and professional skills.
If you are striving for a successful career in accountancy, there are a number of key skills which you should look to develop and build upon throughout your career.
- Adaptability. The role of the accountant is becoming more of an advisory one as technology automates processes and removes the need for paper. Clients have new expectations, and accountants can now collaborate and work with their customers in real time. With technology bringing constant change, accountants need to be able to adapt quickly and react to whatever curve ball is thrown at them.
- Openness. Honesty is highly valued in the accounting world. Accountants and the firms they work for pride themselves on adhering to the highest ethical standards and always treating their clients with honesty and integrity.
It is important to be transparent when making decisions, providing advice, and completing tasks. This is true of every workplace relationship, whether with clients, your manager, or when working in a team of colleagues.
- Strategic decision-making. Automation of many administrative tasks means accountants have more time to focus on the strategic decision-making side of their role; and clients know this. Individuals who have strong commercial skills and have invested in their accounting training will be considered highly valuable by clients and firms alike.
- Information technology expertise. Accountants should look to be knowledgeable in general IT and accounting software, especially when it is likely your client will know how to use it too. Cloud accounting is the latest technology break-through in the accounting industry. Working in the cloud means data and software are available anytime and anywhere, so clients can keep their finances up to date across different platforms.
- Communication. Clients and colleagues can communicate with you at any time they want to from anywhere in the world. Accountants need to be willing to interact with people across all mediums, from phone to video conferencing. It is a good idea to master social media as well as the more traditional email. While clients may contact you regularly via the phone, most will also value face-to-face meetings. This is also the best way to build a trusting relationship.
- Creative problem-solving. Change is likely to bring about challenges as well as positives. Therefore, firms need accountants who can think outside the box and come up with effective ways to solve new problems. Initiative, a skill which can be developed in professional, educational, and personal situations, is highly valued by employers. Firms are keen to recruit staff who want to share ideas to continually improve business performance.
- Customer service skills. For accountants working in public practice, it is essential to be able to build a strong relationship with current customers, in order to retain them, as well as being able to attract new customers. In corporate accounting, individuals must meet the needs of the organisation’s other departments and their managers. In both instances, strong customer services skills are invaluable.
- Industry knowledge. Finally, be an expert in the accounting industry and any changes being applied to it. This can be achieved by embarking on key training to help you break into the profession successfully, and then being hungry to continue building knowledge. Take courses to achieve higher qualifications and gain new skills. Take note of news which will affect your industry, and never stop learning!