There are a plethora of opportunities available for both entry-level and experienced in the field of accounting. But as the way of business is constantly evolving, so is the accounting profession and as such if you want to land the role of your choice and achieve success, then you will have to acquire the most sought-after accounting skills. These skills are not just number crunching ones, but a combination of both technical knowledge and soft skills. So, here are the top nine accounting skills that will help you to stand out as an excellent accountant:
- Numerical Skill
- Eye for Detail
- Time Management and Organisational Skill
- Computer Skill
- Communication Skill
- Business Awareness
- Resilience and Adaptability
1. Numerical Skill
Numerical skill is one of the very basic skills needed for a career in accounting. Such number crunching skills are built around basic mathematical skills wherein you can demonstrate your ability to understand and analyze numerical information and draw meaningful conclusions in order to arrive at the right decision. As an accountant, you will be engaged in preparing various financial reports. You should be well versed with numbers so that you are able to connect the figures in the income statement to that of the cash flow or to the balance sheet.
For instance, a depreciation in the income statement should add up to the accumulated depreciation in the balance sheet. However, there may be some variance due to the sale or disposal of assets. But as an accountant, you should be able to figure that out. As such, some of the major numerical skills include understanding relationships between numbers, calculation skills, logical thinking, ability to organize information, data analysis, etc.
2. Eye for Detail
To be a successful accounting professional you need to pay attention to detail as it is one of the crucial skills. You should have an eye for detail such that even the smallest of the errors can’t escape the span of your eyes. As an accountant, you will be responsible to keep track of tasks and ensure its accomplishment by limiting the possible shortcomings. Any error in financial reporting can end up becoming the reason for monetary penalties and stained reputation in the business world.
3. Time Management and Organisational Skill
Accountants are required to manage various responsibilities, which results in a lot of activities to be accommodated in a tight schedule. As such, in order to become a good accountant, you should be able to track all these responsibilities efficiently. Such responsibilities can include portfolio management, transaction handling and meeting important deadlines. By discharging all these duties to the best of your ability you will be able to demonstrate competence to your colleagues and show them how well organized and reliable you are.
The skill for time management goes hand-in-hand with the organizational requirements. A seasoned professional will manage the workload effectively by re-prioritizing competing tasks and juggling between myriad responsibilities to ensure timely completion of everything. So, to be a successful accountant you have to emulate the above-mentioned qualities immaculately, which will not only impress your manager, colleagues, and clients but also put you on a fast track to an exciting career prospect.
One of my friends is in the accounting department of a mining company. He is associated with the budget preparation and continuous monitoring of the actual cost. For him, it is very important that he adheres to the timeline of presenting the variance analysis (actual cost vis-à-vis the budget plans) for the previous month within the first week of the following month. So, he makes sure that all the information is available to him within the first 3 days of the following month so that he can prepare the report within the timeline.
4. Computer Skill
Given the volume of information to be processed on a regular basis, it is quintessential that you have commendable computer skills. In the field of accounting, computer skills include decent working knowledge of different types of accounting software, besides the basic computing abilities for excel and word. In fact, the present-day accountants are required to use a wide array of accounting tools like timekeeping software, payroll software, resource management software, etc. Some of the examples of in-demand accounting tools include:
- Advanced excel and modeling techniques
- ERP tools such as SAP, Oracle, etc.
- Big data analytics and query languages (eg: SQL)
- Microsoft visual basic
5. Communication Skill
A big part of the accounting responsibilities includes writing reports and presenting them to senior management. Some of the other major interactions are with other accountants, financial managers and other stakeholders of the company. As such, as an accountant, you are expected to be a good orator and narrator to communicate your ideas effectively. In fact, if you chose to become an auditor, then you should be able to communicate your findings in simple and yet legally convoluted jargon.
6. Business Awareness
It perhaps should come at the top of the table of skills required to be a successful accountant. While all other technical skills and soft skills are necessary, but the need for business awareness is crucial. Essentially it means that you should have the knowledge pertaining to the business profile and be well aware of the economic events taking place that can impact the business either directly or indirectly. Knowledge of economic, social and political movements will help you in thinking ahead of your time and evolve to master your craft, which can eventually be the launchpad for your career.
For instance, an accounting manager in a mining company should be aware of the governmental regulations pertaining to environmental clearance, mining permits, etc. Ability to understand the upcoming market trends can help budget planning or another decision making.
As an accountant, you will have certain fiduciary responsibilities to the shareholders and pecuniary information about the company – which puts higher stakes against your integrity and an accountant of questionable integrity can be a major risk to the company. As such, there are several ethical standards to which an accountant must adhere. You must understand that the public, businesses and the government trust the accountants as they believe them to always look out for the beneficiaries’ best interests. As such, as an accountant, you should be transparent in your decision making as it improves your working relationships with your team and fosters an environment of respect and collaboration.
8. Resilience and Adaptability
If you are thrilled by the exciting career prospect of an accountant, then you should also be ready to put in the extra effort that goes into forging this fruitful career. As an accountant, you will start your career at the entry-level and then work your way up the ladder, which is not going to be easy. You should be resilient enough so that you can work with tight deadlines and manage multiple clients’ needs while maintaining a positive attitude towards your work. It is the ability to keep a cool head on your shoulder that will take you through these challenges.
Another attribute that can make your life a little easier is the ability to adapt to the job requirement. As the accounting industry is constantly evolving, so if you are able to adapt quickly, you will be at a distinct advantage. Additionally, being adaptable means that you will be required to unlearn some old tricks and learn the new tricks of the trade to beat the competition. The best mantra is to embrace change as change is the only constant.
Last but not least is the quality to be a good leader, which means that you know how to mentor your team and make yourself approachable. Although this skill set is required at a later stage of the career, but people with leadership skills upfront always draw the attention of senior management. In accounting, leadership skills can be demonstrated through strategic thinking and long-term planning. In some of the profiles, you will be responsible to provide consulting services to your clients, and the ability to look ahead and help the clients improve their operations can be a dealmaker. The best accountants in the business are usually known for their vision – the ability to make logical decisions with a bit of creativity. In order to be recognized as a successful accountant, you have to prove your worth to the clients by helping them improve not only their present but also their future.
So, the need for these nine skills highlights the fact that how well the accounting career is becoming big. Nevertheless, good accounting skills and competencies coupled with right qualification and knowledge is the recipe for a successful career in accounting. In case you are planning to take on more responsibilities, then you can always upgrade yourself by signing up for higher certification courses in accounting.Read more: HOW TO BECOME AN ACCOUNTANT? MUST-READ FOR INDIAN GRADUATES