ORGANIZATION – Accountants are important people. They manage a lot of responsibility, which means that they generally stay pretty busy. To be a good accountant you need to have a system to keep track of those responsibilities – such as any portfolios you manage, the transactions you handle, and any important dates and deadlines you need to meet – to ensure that you fulfill all of your duties to the best of your ability. Being well-organized is a great way to demonstrate to your coworkers and manager that you are reliable, competent and able to get the job done. Start honing your organizational skills now and by the time you begin applying for jobs, you’ll be able to discuss your organizational skills with confidence.
TIME MANAGEMENT – Good time-management skills go hand-in-hand in with strong organizational capabilities. A system for managing your workload is only effective if you also know how to budget your time. As an accountant, you’ll need to manage competing priorities and juggle myriad tasks – while completing everything on time. The ability to work within deadlines and to continually re-prioritize your to-do list will take you far. Not only will it impress your boss, co-workers and clients, it will also help you to maintain a healthy work/life balance and keep your day-to-day productive.
ADAPTABILITY – The accounting industry is highly dynamic, so accountants who are able to adapt quickly and easily are at a distinct advantage. In addition to being able to provide better services to their clients, adaptable individuals are more likely to learn and grow in their careers because they see each new challenge as an opportunity to learn and test their skills. Embrace change – learn to make the most of every curveball that your work throws your way. On a related note, it’s also great to be proactive. Although it takes a bit of extra effort to be informed about changes as they happen, it definitely pays off: it will keep you on the cutting edge of the industry, earn you the respect of your peers and ensure that others look to you when planning ahead.
COMMUNICATION – No matter where you work, what your job entails or who you work with, strong communication skills are incredibly valuable. Being able to communicate well in writing and in person will help you to get a job, work as a team with your colleagues, interact with clients and, with time, advance professionally. Well-developed interpersonal skills will also be useful for networking. Whether you have to attend a corporate function or are simply welcoming a new coworker to the office, the ability to assert yourself when meeting new people in order to establish profitable relationships will serve you well. Never underestimate the importance of making a good first impression.
OPENNESS – Honesty and integrity are highly valued in the accounting world. Accountants – and the firms they work for – pride themselves on adhering to the strictest ethical standards. It’s why the public, other businesses and the government know that they can trust accountants to always look out for their best interests. Being transparent when making decisions and giving advice has the added benefit of improving your overall working relationships. It will make teamwork easier and will help you to foster an environment that is respectful and collaborative. Many accountants work on larger teams, so the importance of being trusted can’t be overstated. Get into the habit of thinking about the consequences of your actions each time you have to make a big decision.
LEADERSHIP – Being a good leader means knowing how to mentor and teach, and making yourself approachable and available to the people you’re responsible for. You have to balance being a role model and the person in charge while still being part of the team. It also takes confidence, patience, and the ability to delegate – traits which don’t come easily to most people. In accounting, leadership skills also include strategic thinking and long-term planning. Many accountants provide consulting services, which means that they offer advice and business solutions to help companies improve their operations, so the ability to look ahead is key. The top players in accounting are generally known for being visionary – for making logical decisions that also involve a bit of creativity. To be a successful accountant, you need to be able to show your clients that you’re working to improve their present and future.
Hope this was Helpful Jessica
In addition, you will also be able to quickly identify what are some of the issues companies are facing. For example whether the changes in their financial statements make sense and whether they would need to raise any issues to their stakeholders and shareholders.
Shiyoung (David)’s Answer
There are lots of good answers from other mentors, so I just want to highlight the biggest strength of accountant I have experienced.
For usual college students, it is hard to figure out which industry and job are fit for their characteristics. At this point, accountant could be the best job for business major students. As every company in every field has its accounting/finance department, you could work at every industry company. If you are not sure about the industry you will work after graduation, it could be at least the second best option to be accountant.
Hongyun (Heley)’s Answer
Some things I can add.
COMFORT WITH NUMBERS
True numbers don't say the whole story and often require interpretation or a qualifying note, but you must be willing to dig into numbers. An accountant is relied upon by others to correctly and appropriately interpret numbers, to decipher what they represent, and based on the specialization you may choose to go into (consulting, tax, audit, technical, forensics, etc.), your exposure to numbers, people and the rules governing the interaction of those two will vary. But you must be comfortable with figuring out what those figures mean. This too, I'm afraid, may sound a bit daunting, but it is not. I can say from personal experience - but of course, you'll have to decide for yourself.
INTERPRET ACCOUNTING LAWS FOR COMMONERS (!)
Accounting is designed to follow some fairly strict rules but all those are subject to interpretations - which is my second suggestion. You must act as the interpreter of those rules, most of which are too dense for a non-accountant to understand, and many of which are subject to interpretation and judgment and qualifications and explanations - sometimes all together (!). Unlike some other lines of work, learning on the job - though fun - can be somewhat exacting. That's primarily because you're dealing with rules that are coming directly from laws-of-the-land or statutes, et.al., and you will be called upon to mediate and enforce them.
Unlike a popular notion that accountants are not people persons, the truth is often far from it. As an accountant, you will have a tremendous opportunity, in fact a responsibility, to interact with people from all other workstreams, who will look up to you for guidance on what is allowed and what's not, what is profitable and what's not, what is justifiable and what's not. You will often find yourself telling others what to do and how best to do it, so as to be in the black at all times.
Then of course, there are nuances that are unique to a particular industry or country or economic situation (like the current one!) - those will add their own quirks to all the above. Going back to John's notes - fall back on OPENNESS and ADAPTABILITY, add some TRANSPARENCY and RESOURCEFULNESS, and you'll be on your way!
P.S.: Technology is of course changing everything, including what makes an Accountant. Your knowledge of not just the good-old spreadsheet but exposure and comfort with Big Data, ERP, Data Visualizations, etc. will add a distinct advantage. If not to begin with, certainly over time you'll get to know more of those as well.
Gulshan recommends the following next steps:
It is very important for an accountant to be thoughtful when doing any work! This includes reaching out to subject matter specialists if there is a gray area in the interpretation of rules.
Adaptability and communication is also a key strength.
Hope this helps!
An accountant qualities include: hard work, attention to details, good organisation and project management skills, time management, teamwork, good knowledge of the accounting, financial reporting and audit standards, and integrity and sense of ethics.
I would echo a couple of the most important qualities:
- Detail-oriented: In addition to understanding the big picture, accountants are focused on every detail since a small error can have a huge impact.
- Organized/Flexible: Accountants must be organized and be able to prioritize tasks, accomplishing them efficiently and effectively (to-do lists are incredibly helpful!) Things might come up and priorities may shift, so being able to be flexible and adapt to situations is important.
- Solution-oriented: Tasks can be challenging, but it is crucial to have the ability to work through a difficult task and figure it out. Know what resources to use to help you (accounting guidance, people/mentors, etc). Often the best way to learn is to struggle through it yourself at first and then ask questions.
- Responsible/Accountable: Take ownership of your work. Know what you have to accomplish that day and get to it!
A major weakness is that you have to work on your social skills. that's lacking for many accountants when it comes to getting data or reporting to other non-accounting departments.
Besides knowledge of accounting rules, it is also important that an accountant be able to communicate his/her findings and advice to a client clearly and in terms that they will understand.
Time managment is also a big piece of being successful in the accounting profession as often times there will be competing deadlines and you have to prioritize projects on a daily basis based on relevant deadlines and client needs. In addition, there can also be recurring deadlines that occur each month or quarter along with more on-off projects that also need to be managed.
Karen recommends the following next steps: