Accountants can enjoy a secure career and often lucrative salaries to go with it. When working in a wide variety of industries, many rise through the financial departments to CFO level, or even CEO, depending on their preferences and aptitude. Successful practice accountants can rise to partner level within a firm or work independently and start their own.
It’s a popular career choice for those looking for stable, well-paid careers who have a natural interest in and flair for numbers.
What skills are needed to work as an accountant?
There are a number of accounting skills and qualities necessary for the role, some may be considered inherent aptitudes, however, many can be learned through relevant study and experience. Hard skills relate to the function of the role, whereas soft skills are those that support the function and enhance performance. The latter aren’t necessarily specific to the job, which makes them highly transferable.
A keen sense for and interest in numbers is an obvious starting point when considering accountancy as a career, although having an interest in business and strategy often compliments it. While becoming an accountant requires an accounting-specific qualification, usually taken after a degree, many who wish to become accountants often study subjects related to finance and/or business, e.g. economics, accountancy and finance, business and management studies. Some degrees have accountancy modules that may contribute to your accountancy qualification.
Hard/technical skills for accountants:
- Performing functions critical to the role – tasks centred on or around producing financial information for the business (or businesses if practice), using the information to make strategic decisions and forecasts, auditing, etc.
- Accounting software knowledge & IT skills
- Business knowledge
Soft skills for accountants:
- Great communication – in particular, the ability to translate data/numbers/technical information to non-finance people and departments
- The ability to manage others and own time
- Creativity - particularly if working within a strategic role, such as management accounts or board leadership
The best accountants do more than simply number-crunch, they have the ability to translate financial information into key business decisions that help drive the business forward, deftly combining streamlined costs and profitability. Those looking to gain senior positions within industry and practice must mix financial and numerical skills with excellent communication skills and a supportive management style.
The ability to translate financial information about a business and communicate this to the board and or other areas of the business is vital. The finance department is business critical, and finance leaders have crucial input in business decisions, given they are responsible for the ‘purse strings’.
How to improve your accounting skills:
Improving skill level requires continued commitment to personal development and keeping abreast of current changes in trends and technology. Exposure to different accounting systems will make a more dynamic employee. Access any training focused on the aforementioned soft skills, in support of technical skills learned from qualifications and on-the-job experience.
What are the transferable skills of an accountant?
The transferable skills of an accountants are wide-ranging, with many amply qualified and suitable to become CEOs if they are dynamic, strategic and creative and have the communication skills required of key leadership roles. The same stands for practice accountants, those who aspire to partnership level must combine excellent finance skills alongside interpersonal and business skills.
Edward Mann can assist you in finding the right job move where you can fully utilise your skills and plan for personal growth to ensure a bright future. Our consultants will help you at every step of the way, offering application support, and interview advice so you make the right impression.