The most useful non-accounting skills
For many years, effective communication abilities have been a must for any aspiring accountant.
But with the rise in remote working, communications has been placed front and centre among must-have skills during this year’s transition.
Likewise, the ability to present information in an easy-to-digest manner, especially for audiences that are not as numbers-savvy, can be a real value-add to the business right now.
Adaptability and flexibility were also top among the skills accounting and finance professionals needed before the pandemic and this remains the case.
As organisations face mounting pressure to meet corporate governance regulations and ensure the security and integrity of their financial data, aptitude in emerging accounting technology has become particularly important.
Employers are constantly looking for trainees who are proficient in the latest database applications, as well as enterprise resource planning programs. Also, many companies are migrating to more sophisticated systems and analytical tools, so they will need accounting and finance professionals with strong technical know-how and who can adapt quickly.
Matt Weston, managing director at Robert Half UK, says: ‘Technological change, like the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) as a critical business tool, was a key driver for that trend, and you can expect that it will remain so.
‘But now, as businesses try to define and operationalise their next “new normal”, the ability to pivot and remain resilient is an absolute must.’
Accountants can expect to play an ever-larger role in businesses going forward. As a result, employers are looking for accounting and finance professionals who possess strong business acumen to help develop strategy, inform key decisions and serve as business partners across multiple departments.
As businesses look at new ways of working, as well as keeping the best practices developed during lockdown, business leaders may also look for fresh ideas as to how the company can ensure continuity of service to clients, improve compliance procedures or address a host of other issues.
Whether you work in public or private accounting, solid customer service skills are critical too. If you work in a public accounting firm, you need to be able to retain current customers and bring in new clients.
Also, if you work in corporate accounting, you must meet the needs of the organisation’s other departments and managers. Accounting professionals can demonstrate good customer service by earnestly listening to the needs and concerns of clients, whether they are internal or external.
Essential accounting skills encompass more than the ability to crunch numbers, complete expense sheets and depreciate fixed assets. In addition to traditional accounting knowledge, there are a number of hard and soft skills that every accounting professional needs, whether they are working in an office or remotely.
This article was first published in Student Accountant in July 2020