Certain skills are specific to certain jobs, and when it comes to accounting, particular skills and strengths can add to your advantage. Like any other field in the industry, accounting is also evolving, and new tools are being developed to make work better, more innovative, and flawless.
And yet, certain strengths and skills are inherent. One needs a good mix of technical prowess and soft skills to do well in this job and be observant. After all, an accountant is responsible for maintaining the financial records, and there is room for very few mistakes.
Essential Skills Need for an Accountant to Succeed on the Job
Here are some skills you will do well to hone if you want to be a distinguished accountant.
#1. Numerical Skills
Having a head for numbers is a prerequisite when it comes to being an accountant. You need to be good with numbers and calculations if you are to do your work flawlessly. One of the primary responsibilities of an accountant would be to total numbers, prepare spreadsheets and create financial reports. They will be responsible for creating detailed balance sheets for every quarter and keeping a record of income and expenses.
In addition, they will also need to decipher numerical data and apply logical thinking to organize all the information to provide a clear picture of the cash flow in the organization, and based on that. The company will be making major financial decisions. Hence, being good with numbers is crucial, and you can always work on improving your skills further.
#2. Attention to Detail
It would be best if you were very attentive to the details as an accountant. Sometimes the smallest mistakes can bring down a month’s worth of work, and you would have to start with the calculations again. A lot of it comes with practice as you train your eyes and mind not to miss anything.
It is essential to go over each number and sometimes double-check calculations to ensure that the finances are accurately managed. The slightest slip can reflect poorly on the success of the organization. To become better at this, you could practice thoroughly checking the accounts until it becomes a habit.
#3. Time Management
The better you are able to organize your tasks, the better you can manage your time. Modern accountants are now expected to handle diverse roles, and you should be able to manage all the responsibilities without any compromise to your work. The better you are at it, the more diverse your portfolio will become, from handling transactions to crunching numbers.
Hence, juggling all the various tasks will make you an excellent accountant and send a strong message to your superiors that you are a reliable and resourceful employee, perfectly capable of managing all the roles that come with your job. It is not just about ticking off the tasks but also about doing them efficiently and not adding to the stress.
#4. Use of Computer Tools
It is almost impossible to get through current accounting jobs without some knowledge of accounting softwares. Some tools that an accountant should know about are ERP tools like Oracle and SAP, along with advanced Excel. Big data analytics and query languages like SQL are also an added plus.
Proficiency in other kinds of business development softwares such as IBM Cognos, QuickBooks, Microsoft Visual Basics, or using Hyperion for help with financial reporting and analysis.
They save time and effort and make your calculations and tabulations flawless. Knowledge of different software’s and platforms will also help you take on more diverse roles.
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#5. Business Awareness and Communications
A modern accountant does not simply work with numbers but also has to convey the findings to colleagues and superiors whenever necessary. You would also have to talk to clients and express to them clearly any concerning matters that you might come across while handling the finances.
In addition, they also need to have a specific idea about running a business because it gives them a perspective regarding how the finances would end up affecting the business. It can help you develop strategies to avoid any mishaps.
It also gives them an insight into the current state of economics, allowing them to foresee many changes that might be brought about in the financial world and help them adapt accordingly. Industry foresight is a considerable strength, and it will work wonders for your career.
Here are some ways in which you can evaluate your communication skills.
- Whatever you are saying, is it easily understood by your colleagues and coworkers?
- If not, is it because you are using too much accounting jargon, or you cannot express yourself?
- Are you listening to the questions correctly before coming up with responses?
#6. Leadership Skills
If you are going to make it big as an accountant, you must have some leadership skills because eventually, you might be responsible for handling a team of accountants of your own for a conglomerate. And a leader is not just accountable for others but also needs to have integrity and excellent strength of character.
You will be privy to lots of sensitive information regarding finances, and you should be discreet and trustworthy, along with helping your junior accountants imbibe the same qualities. It would be best if you were firm and transparent while making decisions and should be resilient in the face of temptations.
All of this will eventually help you overcome several challenges at your workplace. Developing this skill from the beginning will help strengthen it over time and help you later in your career as a senior accountant.
Once you have made up your mind about being an accountant, get certified and specialize in an area. Today employers are looking for much more than simply making accurate spreadsheets.
Hence you can look into consumer protection, anti-money laundering or AML, Know your Customer, or even understand the Dodd-Frank Act and Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review. You can get certified by organizations like the American Institute of CPAs if you want to pursue a field in revenue recognition.
Moreover, when you are have attained specialization in a field, you get to focus more on a particular aspect of accounting, becoming an expert on it over time. It is a quality that will be highly coveted down the line and contribute to your success.
#8. Being Adaptable and Flexible
Being adaptable and flexible can work to your advantage if you want to succeed as an accountant because you constantly have to adapt yourself to new tools. Today many business tools are powered by artificial intelligence, and knowing about them can be a bonus. In addition, you can also learn to upgrade your skills to adapt to various new platforms.
For example, at times, you might have to focus on customer retention by holding back old customers and showing them the promising data reflected in the accounts. Moreover, fields like corporate accounting also demand that you work with managers and coworkers from other departments as well, and being flexible here can also be to your benefit.
How to Become an Excellent Accountant?
When you think of succeeding as an accountant, you need to ensure that you have what it takes to become one. Here are some parameters based on which you can evaluate yourself.
#1. Do you Have Patience?
Patience is a crucial parameter when it comes to managing accounts. You will have to go through tons of data and numbers to make sense of finances, especially for clients who are not best at compiling data themselves. You will have to go through methods of taxes, bank accounts and pour over spreadsheets to understand and compile financial records. It would be best if you had immense patience and a lot of calm to do that day in and day out.
#2. Can You Investigate?
You must have a zeal for investigation when trying to be an accountant. You cannot simply give up when the numbers don’t add up. You need to go back and forth to decipher where the mistake was made and fix it if needed. One glitch and all your calculations will be turned on their heads, so you need to be able to prevent that.
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#3. Are You Quick to Learn?
Being a fast learner can be an asset when you want to make a career as an accountant. Be it the Excel formulas or the features of accounting softwares. You will need to know everything to ensure you are prepared to apply your knowledge in the best possible manner. Since the industry is very dynamic, being a fast learner can help.
#4. Are you Tech-Savvy?
Because accounting tools today involve using softwares, being tech-savvy can help you to a significant extent. Using technology can help you come up with new ideas and offer new solutions to problems that you might not have been able to come up with manually. Thankfully, it is one of those strengths you can build upon by honing your skills.
Good accounting is much more than meets the eye. You can upgrade your technical skills by undergoing refresher courses and keeping yourself abreast of industry news and the latest methods and techniques used in accounting. As you become more confident in your job, you will be able to take on greater responsibilities and will surely succeed in the position. Once you have honed and strengthened these skills, you will feel more confident in your job as an accountant.