Top Skills World-Class Accountants Should Have

Dimitri Raziev18 Jan 202313 mins
Top Skills World-Class Accountants Should Have

Key Points

– Irrespective of the company’s size and age, accounting is an essential function that helps with cost planning, decision-making, and evaluation of the firm’s overall business performance relative to its efforts.

– Accountants are finance professionals working for individuals, corporations, or even the public sector to make sure that the organisations are operating as efficiently as possible, with all records maintained up to date and associated taxes settled punctually.

– Depending on their market, professionally certified accountants abide by a set of accounting rules set by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) when generating a company’s financial statement.

– All individuals looking to pursue a career in accounting will need to attain specialised knowledge, education, and certification. Not to mention, developing an in-depth understanding of the fundamental accountant skillsets will enable aspiring accounting professionals to access an extensive range of career opportunities within this industry.

All in all, achieving success is much more than simply obtaining the necessary accounting degrees and qualifications. In the majority of cases, the top accountants will need to master a diverse combination of hard and soft skills to perfect their craft. On top of that, possessing such attributes and talents will allow them also to work more effectively each day.

What Is Accounting?

Simply put, accounting is the procedure involving summarising, analysing, and documenting all financial transactions associated with a company’s operations. These reports, in turn, may be reviewed internally by the management team or by third-party organisations such as regulators, oversight agencies, and tax collection bodies. With that, the financial statements prepared by accountants will need to be succinct and effectively summarise the company’s financial status within a certain accounting timeline.

In the majority of situations, accountants would adopt the accounting standards established by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP); which these sets of principles are created to increase the uniformity and comparability of financial reports across various industry verticals. Fundamentally, these sets of rules are developed based on the double-entry accounting principles, whereby it is a practice involving the entry of all accounting transactions as credit and debt in two individual general ledgers.

What Is an Accountant?

In essence, accountants are finance professionals who bear the responsibility of managing a set of accounts owned by a group of individuals or a company, which these accounts can be either public or private. On that note, it is fairly common for accountants to find themselves working with firms of diverse sizes, whether small or large, non-profit organisations, government entities, or even high-net-worth individuals who may enlist their services.

Moving forward, an accountant’s job scope would be largely dependent on their personal background as well as the educational qualification(s) that they may have received. In most cases, accounting professionals would begin their careers with a Bachelor’s degree in hand, followed by obtaining additional professional certifications as they progress in this industry and role. In specific, it is typical for accountants to have more than one accounting designation, with some of the popular ones including the Certified Management Accountant (CMA), the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA).

What Does an Accountant Do?

Accountants are generally tasked to handle a wide variety of duties and responsibilities, and for that reason, the skillsets required of an accountant would be very broad. To briefly elaborate, some of the common job scopes covered by an accountant include: 

– Drafting financial reports

– Supervising the management of accounting records

– Formulating evidence-backed business recommendations to the senior management

– Brainstorming ideas to minimise risks

– Preparing the company’s tax returns

– Consulting clients on best practices for corporate restructuring

– Ensuring the company’s compliance with the legal requirements set by regulators

Based on the responsibilities mentioned above, it is clear that accountants may benefit significantly from the use of accounting software to automate manual and time-consuming workstreams whilst safeguarding their efficiency and accuracy. Not to mention, as novel technologies continue to be introduced to this field, it is imperative for accountants to recognise that their roles, areas of relevance, and work expectations are likely to evolve in a progressive manner.

Hence, should one hope to remain employable in such a dynamic industry, they should consistently look to pursue available certifications that upskill their computing skills. On top of that, one of the other best practices would be to supplement your basic computing skills with on-the-job experiences to maximise your learning potential.

The Different Major Fields of Accounting

In summary, there are a total of four main fields in auditing and accounting, whereby they largely dictate the scope of work that professionals perform.

Government Accountants

The local, state and federal governments recruit accountants or auditors for a myriad of reasons. To begin with, government accountants could be tasked to audit individuals and companies that are mandated by law to adhere to public regulations. Meanwhile, accountants employed by the federal government may bear the responsibility of auditing branches of the government organisation to safeguard the achievement of its financial goals.

Management Accountants

Management accountants usually work within small groups of companies, providing the executives with the data and analytics expertise required to aid their decision-making. Besides that, it is typical for the management to utilise this source of information to construct financial statements that would be circulated amongst the business’ shareholders, regulatory bodies, creditors, as well as the local tax authorities (e.g., the Internal Revenue Service).

Internal Auditors

Simply put, internal auditors serve as the firm’s internal police or detective, in which they are responsible for examining the company’s internal corporate governance and controls. In particular, they are usually entrusted with identifying and thwarting any fraudulent practices, mismanagement of money, and/or inaccurate reporting.

Public Accountants

In general, public accountants offer a wide range of accounting services, such as tax consulting, corporate advisory, and bookkeeping for individuals, companies, governments, and even non-profit organisations. On that note, it is common for many public accountants to bear the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) title. However, a rare number of them would specialise in a particular niche, such as corporation tax report preparation services.

How Could One Become an Accountant?

The majority of accountants would undergo the Bachelor’s degree in accounting route from an accredited tertiary institution, whereby their degree programmes should equip them with the foundational know-how to complete the basic duties of a professional accountant. On the other hand, for individuals seeking to be promoted to mid- or senior-level positions, pursuing a Master’s degree in accounting may be a sound idea. This is because such programmes provide students with highly technical and niche accounting skill sets ranging from international accounting to business analytics to taxation.

In the meantime, there are also a variety of opportunities for ambitious accountants to obtain noteworthy accounting qualifications. For instance, those looking to earn the certified public accountant (CPA) title will need to pass the CPA examinations to earn their credentials.

Top Skills That an Accountant Needs to Be Exceptional 

There are numerous skills that an accountant will need to possess if they intend to develop themselves into an outstanding accounting professional. Examples of such skill sets would include:

Analytical Capabilities

In our world today, providing insights using historical data points is no longer sufficient to separate the exceptional from the rest. As a matter of fact, the best of the best would be comfortable with transforming big data into concise, action-driven insights. With that, future-oriented accountants must possess a delicate mix of theoretical and practical knowledge of business analytics.

The Ability to Communicate Well

In essence, should an individual possess the analytical skills but fail to convey those findings to others skillfully, such investigative efforts would, unfortunately, be futile. Hence, exceptional accountants are expected to develop solid written and verbal communication skills to effectively translate pertinent financial information into straightforward messages that stakeholders and the executive teams can act on constructively.

Time Management Skills

Overall, deadlines do not wait for anyone. Thus, the ability of an accountant to properly manage their time is a non-negotiable as accountants are typically tasked to manage multiple projects at once. Nonetheless, adopting automated accounting software may substantially relieve the burden placed on accountants as such solutions can perform various time-consuming and manual tasks with virtually no error.

To aid businesses with that, Kolleno is a smart credit control platform that offers customisable solutions for companies. In particular, Kolleno can provide functions ranging from account receivable management features to automated payment collection modules to save clients time and money in the long run.

Relationship Management Know-How

Unlike the older days when an accountant may have the luxury of hiding at the back office, accountants seeking to thrive in today’s business environment will be expected to be comfortable not only with managing numbers but also with people. As a result, this would necessitate professionals to develop a wider range of interpersonal skills, including the ability to work in a team as well as lead and motivate subordinates, if they hope to enjoy exponential success.

Creativity and Problem-Solving Skills

Considering that we are now living in an era where corporations have to proactively identify opportunities whilst ensuring that they have properly de-risked themselves, having an accountant who can think outside of the box will always be a strategic asset for the firm.

In other words, accountants with the capability of coupling creativity with an in-depth knowledge of the business’s financial state would be able to propose practical solutions to resolve complicated financial or non-financial issues cost-effectively.

Strong Business Acumen

On top of knowing the numbers by heart, top-performing accountants will need to comprehend the business as a whole before they would be in the position to offer strategic advice. Having mentioned that, this thereby highlights the importance for accountants to be able to understand the firm’s operations at a high level alongside its employees, offerings, customer base, and relevant stakeholders.

Tech-Savvy Mindset

In short, the best accountants have an innate understanding that technology itself is changing rapidly every day. Therefore, they are proactive at keeping up to date with the latest tools and resources that may aid them in their day-to-day duties. Consequently, exceptional accountants would need to have a core knowledge of the technology itself and be equipped to adapt quickly as part of keeping up with a dynamic corporate world.

On that note, Kolleno is an all-in-one platform equipped with the necessary tools to help accountants effectively manage their client relationships. This is accomplished by Kolleno utilising an intelligent approach to enable professionals to communicate well with customers.

Why Is Accounting a Necessity?

Whilst accounting has been stereotypically a back-office function serving as a popular target for derogatory remarks; it still comes without denial that accountants play a significant role in an organisation’s strategic planning, growth, and compliance with regulations. 

To briefly elaborate, accounting is a mandatory element to facilitate a business’ growth, as it would be virtually impossible for firms to make informed financial decisions in the absence of data regarding how the company is performing. Thus, without accounting, businesses will not be able to differentiate between profitable and loss-making departments or the key operational costs that comprise the majority of the company’s expenses.

With that in mind, this brings us to highlight the importance of accounting for fundraising efforts, as third-party investors will require audited financial statements and/or management accounts to evaluate the financial health of a business. Similarly, lending institutions such as banks will definitely need the firm to provide financial documents as part of the review and underwriting procedure for loan issuance. In addition, accounting is necessary to facilitate a business owner’s successful exit from their company. The reason for this is that large corporations frequently acquire smaller firms as part of their mergers and acquisitions (M&A) strategy. As a result, the company owner will need to provide the necessary financial statements to enable the prospective buyer to perform their due diligence on the company.

Meanwhile, accounting is required for businesses to collect and make payments. By performing accounting exercises, companies will have a clear idea of who they are indebted to as well as the source of their debts. On the contrary, firms agreeing to extend credit to their clients will need accounting to stay on top of individuals and entities who are owing them money.

How Can an Accounting Team’s Efforts Be Optimised Using Automation?

Adopting accounting software to automate certain tasks within the accounting department could be an important asset to help the team optimise their productivity. In particular, top-quality automated solutions would enable accounting professionals to gather data from a variety of sources into a centralised database, clean and transform the data into insightful analysis, keep them secured, and present them effectively through a dashboard or concise reports. Furthermore, employing accounting software can offer greater peace of mind for company executives as the procedures are no longer dependent on the integrity of a few employees.

For instance, Kolleno is a smart credit control platform that is well-crafted to perform account reconciliations, which is notorious for its time-consuming and largely manual tasks that are prone to human error. Other than that, Kolleno helps companies to streamline their entire credit control efforts by incorporating accounting, communication, and payment modules all into a single platform. Consequently, automation solutions such as Kolleno could be seen as a simple yet intelligent strategy to elevate your accounting department’s output to greater heights.

Concluding Thoughts

In a nutshell, the skillsets expected of an accountant can be optimised with the introduction of automated accounting software solutions. In general, striking a delicate balance between soft and hard skills will enable an accountant to maximise their performance when carrying out their day-to-day tasks.

With that, although it is crucial for one to consistently work on mastering their fundamental accounting know-how, all corporations ought to consider employing automated software to enhance the accounting department’s overall productivity, output, and potential.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is Accounting?

Accounting is a procedure in which a company records every financial activity and transaction associated with its business operations.

What Are the Responsibilities That an Accountant Bears?

Accountants hold the responsibility of ensuring that a business possesses an accurate and up-to-date record of its financial standing at any point in time. In particular, this means that an accountant’s typical job scope would involve reviewing the records of a firm’s day-to-day transactions, followed by compiling the information gathered into financial statements, namely the profit and loss statement, the balance sheet, and the cash flow statement. Meanwhile, professional accountants may also offer other types of financial services ranging from the preparation of ad hoc management accounts to the execution of statutory audits at regular intervals.

What Skills Are Essential for Accountants?

Counterintuitively, having a robust mathematical skillset is a useful but less critical trait in today’s accounting world due to the widening availability of calculators and computers. Although accountants may come from an extensive range of educational and/or work backgrounds, there remain several skill sets that are non-negotiables amongst top-performing accountants. To begin with, having solid attention to detail is a key trait that every accountant needs to possess as their job scope requires them to accurately identify minute discrepancies and errors within a company’s accounting books. In addition, the accounting field demands professionals to have a strong ability to practice critical thinking coupled with logical problem-solving skills.