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1 October 2019 / Accounting Tips

12 Accounting Skills You Need to Succeed

1 October 2019 > Accounting Tips

A good accountant has more than a degree in accounting or a related field. They have an interest in numbers and the right skillset to do the job. If you want to be a successful accountant, here are some of the required accounting skills you’ll need.

1. Project Management

Much of accounting work is tracking expenses and reconciling expenses, but sometimes, you’ll be asked to complete projects. They might be cost-savings projects, analyses portfolios, or projection presentations. In any of these scenarios, you’ll need a handle on project management.

Even if you’re not expected to lead the project, you should have a grasp on everything that goes into completing it efficiently, accurately, and on time. Teamwork is also an essential aspect of good project management.

2. Time Management

You’ll be responsible for managing your own workload efficiently and within your budget. Learning how to manage your time is the best approach. You’ll always have extra projects, multiple tasks, and competing priorities. Your work will likely never be finished, but you’re still expected to deliver reports within a reasonable deadline. Your ability to prioritize your to-do list and work quickly without sacrificing quality will be essential.

3. Attention to Detail

Accountants must input all data accurately—otherwise, the accounts will not reconcile correctly, and it will create more work in the future. Additionally, accounting errors can lead to legal trouble and tax problems.

Therefore, attention to detail is key for any accountant. Everyone makes mistakes, but major errors will not be treated kindly in your profession. You’ll have a difficult time keeping employment if you don’t work efficiently and double-check your work as you go.

4. Financial Management

Obviously, it’s helpful to have knowledge of the financial world. You’ll be expected to audit financial information daily, analyzing trends and noting patterns. You’ll be asked to compile reports, set budgets, create business plans, write commentary, and draft financial statements. There will also be a great deal of financial forecasting and risk analysis. As you handle each of these day-to-day tasks with a few larger projects thrown in, you’ll be grateful for your financial literacy and your ability to juggle multiple accounts at a time.

5. Leadership

When you consider accounting jobs, leadership isn’t the first accounting skill that comes to mind. Still, it’s an invaluable talent in the industry. Leadership skills come with a host of character traits that are useful in the profession, including confidence, patience, and ingenuity.

Leaders know what it means to lead by example. They’re more likely to put their heads down and work until the job is done, despite obstacles that come their way. They work well with others and are available and approachable.  Leaders also know how to balance their responsibilities and delegate when necessary. They know when to say no and when to move forward with enthusiasm. Whether you’re in charge of a group of people or you’re just part of the team, be a leader.

6. Customer Service

The accountant’s job usually doesn’t involve greeting the customers—still, they may be asked to work with customers on some levels. For example, an accountant in a small business may be required to answer the phone or greet customers at the front desk from time to time.

Accountants who want to offer freelance services or work virtually will also need customer service skills if they want to gain clients. They must know how to gain their trust, communicate in layman’s terms, and let the customer know their accounts are in good hands. It’s just one of many basic accounting skills required to be a good accountant.

7. Experience

Entry-level accounting jobs won’t expect you to have years of experience, but they would like to see on your resume that you’ve done some accounting work. This might be for an internship, a summer job, or even experience doing taxes for your friends. This signifies to them that you’re a good team player with strong customer service skills and accounting savvy.

When you’re looking to move up salary levels or take on higher profile jobs, experience is a must. You’ll want several years of relevant experience before applying for any position, even if it’s in-house.

The experience you get should be in the same field as the position. Therefore, if you want to prepare taxes, it’s important to work in that field for several years. If you’re looking to change areas of expertise, pick up a few side jobs or ask to do projects in this area at your current job. The more experience, the better the position and pay.

8. Communication

It’s difficult to succeed in any job without clear cut communication skills, and accounting is no different. Financial topics are confusing to most people. You’ll be required to convey complex bits of information to regular clients with little understanding of accounts receivables, invoicing, and assets management. Along with communicating with clients, know how to talk to your team. Miscommunications are typically to blame for late deadlines and improperly completed projects. Talking with other professionals will save you from many headaches along the road.

9. Initiative  

Bosses like employees who take initiative. Essentially, this means you can assess things clearly and work on your own. You also think critically in situations and can develop creative ideas of your own. This not only means that you understand the project and are enthusiastic about completing it, but it signals that you can think independently, come up with creative ideas, and work well without being micromanaged. Those who can take initiative in a job are more likely to be given more responsibility and to become front runners for promotion.

10. Organization

Depending on your position, you could be dealing with millions of dollars in multiple accounts. That kind of responsibility must come with thorough organizational skills. You can’t assign transactions to the wrong account when you’re dealing with large numbers. Mistakes do happen, but frequent mistakes could get you fired.

Companies look for accountants that can juggle multiple accounts and responsibilities with minimal errors. Future employers will look for this on your resume, but it doesn’t hurt to arrive to the interview organized with your resume in a folder, your appearance neat and orderly, and your speech prepared.

11. Adaptability

Things will change, and the job may not be what you signed up for when you’re a year in. This kind of change is common in workforces, and you must know how to roll with the punches. You’ll be at a distinct advantage if you can show that you’re dynamic.

If you’ve struggled with change in the past, try to turn things around with proactive thinking. Look for the opportunity in the situation and work towards that. Your ability to remain stable during change is vital to a successful career.

12. Problem Solving

Although this skill comes last in this list, it’s among the most important. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t always add up, and you’ll need to look at the problem with a clear head. You’ll want to calmly approach the situation and develop logical solutions for working through it.

Additionally, you may encounter problems with clients or coworkers. Your responsibility is to work with them, despite differences. Your ability to work through problems with dexterity and poise will speak volumes.

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Jessie Suarez

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