Regardless of your specific profession within the industry, all accounting and finance professionals must examine and interpret complex financial data and clearly communicate findings to clients. The role also requires strong interpersonal skills as you will be required to work in teams and regularly meet with clients. So, wondering what it takes to be a great accountant or finance professional? We break down some of the top skills you should have.
Being able to analyze data:
Accounting work requires a meticulous, detail-oriented eye. Accountants must sift through financial records to ensure that every detail is accurate and current. There is no “skimming through” information or doing a “quick read”. Otherwise, your analysis may yield inconsistent results. The best accountants can look at an analysis report and quickly determine whether the facts and figures compute.
You must be organized:
Accountants must be highly organized to juggle clients, meet deadlines, and follow proper reporting guidelines. Each assignment presents a significant amount of documentation, regulations changes, and software/digital data. So, a disorganized accountant may struggle to keep track of important paperwork.
You can’t just sit at your desk and not talk to anyone. Accountants are more forward-facing now than 20 years ago. Accountants and Financial Analysts must explain findings to colleagues and clients, many of whom do not have a strong understanding of complex financial concepts. For this reason, you essentially serve as the data interpreter. One of the most important skills the best accountants possess is the ability to transform numbers, charts, and tables into a story a regular person can understand. The best accountants use communication skills to simplify the vast amount of data at their disposal.
Being able to adapt:
The industry is ever-changing, more so now than in the past. Accountants should always be prepared to adapt to changing standards and protocols, as well as technological advances, workplace dynamics, and new platforms for client interaction. According to the Accountancy Journal, change is particularly common in the public accounting profession. New clients come on board regularly, and new projects come up regularly. Being able to adapt and be comfortable with change is incredibly important.
Know your industry:
As accountants and financial “experts”, you should have extensive knowledge about financial statements and how they work. Technical expertise in specific areas of accounting and financial laws can shed light on different topics. It’s always a good idea to sharpen your understanding of generally accepted accounting principles, Securities and Exchanges Commission reporting, and initial public offerings.
Many accountants work on multiple projects at once. The ability to multitask and effectively manage time ensures that you meet deadlines and provide satisfactory results for clients. Working on different projects and being able to manage deadlines is a trait that separates passable accountants from top-shelf experts in the industry. According to many CEO s, this skill is particularly valuable during tax season, when many accountants are overloaded with clients and bound to inflexible deadlines.
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