Modern accountancy is more than just bean-counting and crunching numbers. An accountant plays a vital role in the affairs of individuals and businesses alike. As well as being a crucial advisor you will be expected to play a role in overall strategy and direction. While the bread and butter of your position may still be in balancing the books, the accountant of today and tomorrow needs to have an overview of the bigger picture. When you find out what you can do with an accounting degree, you will see that there are many roles available that are always developing and changing, just as the way we do business develops and changes. The role is developing and changing, just as the way we do business develops and changes. Therefore, the skill set of an accountant needs to widen, and whether that comes from on the job learning or further education through training and courses, here are a few of the skills which will boost your accountancy career in the future.
Getting Down with Business
Beyond the numbers game, an understanding of your clients wider goals, expectations and strategy is crucial in fulfilling your role as part of their working team. Your business acumen needs to develop so that you can see the bigger picture – from an overview of personnel and talent to providing counsel to board level executives, it’s crucial to be sailing in the same direction of your client or company. Grab every opportunity you can to cross-train with different departments, jump into projects which will get you collaborating with different teams and keep your eyes and ears open to understand the demands and pressures which other parts of the business face on a day to day level.
Overall Skill Set
Gone are the days where the accounts department was a secret society, seemingly governed by their own rules. Interaction between departments is critical to good business practice, and therefore it’s important to develop a skill set that goes above and beyond the accountant’s skill set of old. As we move into an era of cloud platforms, advanced databasing solutions and more modern approaches to data analysis, an accountant will be expected to have a higher level of IT acumen than in bygone years. To those with a traditional accountancy skillset, it may be beneficial to engage in formal study in this area to take those skills to an advanced level, and courses are available that delve into the adoption of modern technology in accounting. It won’t hurt to brush up on other regular business skills – time management to meet the demands of a busy workload and communication skills to deal efficiently and cooperatively with all levels and areas of the business.
As mentioned above, technology is moving at a startling rate in all areas of business. Not only will you be expected to become au fait with modern accounting and data analysis systems, but you’ll also have to become accustomed to staying on top of new roll-outs and changes to software, databases and more. Make a habit of learning new functions – they are there to streamline and boost your productivity, and don’t turn down an opportunity for a tutorial, even one that seems a bit simple or too advanced – you’ll either learn something new or strengthen your existing skills.
More and more emphasis is being put on communication between workers from all departments and areas. This means that, despite mostly working with figures and charts, paying a bit of attention to your communication skills will pay dividends going forward. Check the tone of your emails – you want to strike a balance between formal, informative and friendly. As well as that, check your demeanor when meeting clients or coworkers face to face. Maintaining friendly relationships with the people you work with has been proven to boost productivity. Network when you have the chance – meeting people face to face is always good for future communications, and you’ll get an insight into other areas of business. Keeping accounts-based communications simple and informative (jargon-free) is also a good idea. You want to minimize confusion, so keep things clear and concise, and make sure your information is always 100% accurate.
Honesty, integrity, and transparency are absolutely keys to working as an accountant. Being an accountant means adhering to a code of ethics. Openness will also help inter-departmental relationships – if you’re known to be a transparent decision maker and a trusted team player you’ll find this adds greatly to the respect you command in the workplace and subsequently to the productivity you’ll be able to achieve working in collaboration with other departments and areas of the business.
This goes without saying – and it’s been touched on in most of the paragraphs above – staying on top of your workload is crucial. Utilize new technology, calendars and appointment apps, schedules, daily planners. Whether you use apps or prefer the old school notes/ datebook methodology, staying organized is the most basic skill an accountant needs – and will always need.
Accounting in the modern age requires greater insight into the overall functioning of a business or portfolio of clients. It may seem challenging at first to take on more duties and responsibilities but ultimately makes for a more rewarding role, with more efficient and productive business practices.