Accountants must be above reproach, well-informed and highly skilled. Additionally, they must exhibit critical thinking and leadership skills and be able to interact effectively and politely with their clients, no matter how bad the monetary news is for the client or clients. With the changes in pecuniary law in the 21st century, it is also imperative for future accountants not only to be aware of these changes but also plan for how they will affect future changes. Here are some skills that all accountants should master.
Hollywood may be replete with examples of little guys with bad hairpieces cobbling together “cooked” books after some syndicate or other such “bad guy” takes its “cut,” but in the real world, accountants are held to an exacting standard. A great many people depend on the results of an accountant’s work, including shareholders, other investors, company employees, and the public itself, just to name a few. If you learn to be ethical, not only will your prospective clients trust you, but your instructors will too. As an accountant, ethics and judgment are your calling card.
In the accounting world, the last thing you want to do is add the wrong figures to the wrong column. Whereas ethics covers doing that on purpose, organization is key to not doing it by accident. Necessarily, accounting demands an eye for attention to detail. To be effective as an accountant, you must be able to put your hands on any document, chart, or any other piece of information germane to the task at hand at any time. Organization speaks to your professionalism in the same way as ethics speak to your character.
Ability to Acquire New Skills as Needed
It used to be that anyone with good character, a slide-rule, and a No. 2 pencil could wear a checkered bow tie and walk into the accounting department. That is not true anymore. In a world suffused with technology, accountants must remain up-to-date with changes in computers, their operating systems and social media. You must also build up a wealth of general knowledge on the inner workings of the business world, including both state and national business law. You must have a voracious appetite for learning and be able to pick up new concepts on-the-fly or in the classroom.
You may not be able to hang out your own shingle and compete. You might find yourself working for an accounting firm instead. If this is the case, getting ahead includes being able to administer other people and motivate them. Pursuant to acquiring new skills, you would be wise to train yourself in leadership development and conflict resolution. Many leadership skills are also concomitant with other skill sets. Long-term planning, for example, would be extremely useful if you were required to present a series of income projections for one of your firm’s clients.
At a basic level, accountants perform a service for others. Almost all customers like to be schmoozed. A lot of the time, people will prefer to work with someone of lesser skill who can interact with them in a pleasing manner rather than the top expert who is just plain blunt. Of course, there are times when bluntness is called for, but the true customer service-oriented professional knows the whens, whys and hows. Of course, combining expertise with exceptional customer service skills will give you every advantage in the marketplace.
Although these skills form the crux of the burgeoning accountant’s toolbox, they are by no means exhaustive. You should always look for a new source of knowledge to better yourself. Do your research. It is the key to unlocking new vistas of knowledge.