Six skills accountants need to succeed in the future

Six skills accountants need to succeed in the future

Accountants might traditionally be viewed as number-crunchers but there are other skills that are possibly far more important to today's accounting professional

Today’s accountants and finance professionals are expected to master skills in a wide variety of areas which means they can do much more than count beans.

If you’re striving to succeed in accountancy and increase your satisfaction at work, here are a few key skills you should look to develop throughout your career.

1. Emotional Intelligence

It’s hard to ignore the importance of cultivating emotional intelligence. It’s what helps you work effectively with others, approach complex situations with empathy and understand your own strengths and weaknesses.

Thien Nguyen, an attendee at our 2018 RevConnect conference and Revenue Manager at Veeva, shared this thought on the importance of emotional intelligence to his career:

“Emotional Intelligence is not something normally associated with revenue management but having an understanding of how others are experiencing a situation and understanding your own experience as well really helps. I am really motivated to succeed in finance and being able to work well with others is a key part of my job.”

Tip: Make a point to actively listen to others and don’t just wait for your chance to speak.  Active listening can help increase compassion and empathy.

2. Communication

No matter what industry you work in and who you have to work with, strong written and verbal communication skills are very important.

From attending corporate functions and networking events to meeting clients and welcoming new coworkers, well-developed speaking skills are useful. They can help you properly assert yourself in a way that makes a good first impression and establishes a strong relationship.

In your email communication, pay attention to your tone and make sure the content is relevant, grammatically correct and easily comprehensible. Think about whether the message is appropriate to send via email, phone or in-person.

Tip: Start by working on your smile, posture and handshake. Then, practise on your friends and family. Memorising a short list of questions to ask people when you first meet them can also help.

3. Honesty and Integrity

These traits are highly valued in any industry but they are of particular value in the accounting world. The best accountants adhere to the highest ethical standards.

As an accountant, you should be both transparent and empathic when making decisions and providing advice. This can help improve your working relationships, making teamwork easier among both your colleagues and your clients.

Tip: Make sure you think through the short-term and long-term consequences of your decisions and articulate any potential concerns to leadership or client teams.

4. Leadership

Leadership is a challenging but important skill for accountants to develop. Leadership involves taking ownership, coaching talent and making difficult decisions when required.

Chief Technology Officer at Aptitude Software, Martin Redington, cites building great teams as one of his passions: “I build teams that allow people to be in control of what they do and give them the ability to be able to do really fulfilling work. Each team knows that when we work together, for each other, we give the best value to our company and to our clients.”

Tip: The best leaders are the ones who are willing to put in the time and the late nights with the rest of their team, regardless of the official hierarchy.

5. Flexibility

The accounting world is dynamic so accountants who are willing to adapt to the changing environment quickly and easily are at an advantage. As well as providing a better service to your clients, it can also help you go further in your career because you’re able to keep learning and improving skills.

Tip: It’s better to be prepared for changes rather than to be taken by surprise. So, try and be proactive by doing your research on industry trends or developments within your organisation so that you know as much as possible about the changes before they happen.

6. Tech-Savviness

The lines between accounting and technology are blurring so it’s not surprising that organisations are looking for people who are not just skilled in accounting but have technical skills – or at least a certain level of comfort and enthusiasm about technology.

Showing a willingness to learn new solutions and help others do the same is critical. Make time for training that is offered even when it seems to interfere with the day’s tasks. Learning new skills may save you time in the long run.

Tip: Make connections with the people in your IT department or the technology power-users in your office. They can be key resources who can help you skill up and stand out.

Accountants need more than just qualifications. If you can cultivate these six skills, you can show your clients, colleagues and boss that you have what it takes to contribute to a successful organisation.

Ross Chapman is the Marketing Director for Aptitude Software, a company focused on equipping enterprise finance teams with the control, agility and insight to transform finance and the business it serves.

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