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What are the strengths of an accountant?

One of the biggest strengths is having a good understanding of a companies performance in a purely quantitative way. If you really like numbers, this is a huge plus. Also, you would spend a good amount of time working by yourself rather than teams if you like that. 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. Cang Vu
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John’s Answer

Jessica identifying the skills that lead to success in accounting will not only increase your job satisfaction, but also make it easier for you to build towards your long-term career goals.

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
Great response John! Caroline McCarthy, CPA
Thank You Caroline. Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much. John Frick
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Thank You Abbey. “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” – Albert Pike John Frick
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Thank You Carmen. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill John Frick
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Jacinta’s Answer

Great question. Accounting is the fundamental language of the business world, if you are looking at a company that is larger than a mum and pop stores, you are likely to encounter phrases that is specific to the business world. It is like learning maths vocabulary or any subject matter. Hence accountants would be able to quickly understand how each business operates.

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.

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Shiyoung David’s Answer

Hi Jessica!

There are lots of good answers from other mentors, so I just want to highlight the biggest strength of accountant I have experienced.

VERSATILITY
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.
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Caroline’s Answer

All of the answers above are really great and provide good advice! I would add that having ability to research topics and look through accounting guidance is helpful! When the client or partner has questions for you on different accounting topics it is good to back up your response with answers related to the guidance! I would echo that organizational and time management skills are very helpful and the ability to balance your work on a day to day basis and understanding how to prioritize tasks. Relationships are very important! Most accountants work in teams internally so it is good to foster honest and open relationships with your colleagues as well as with the clients. Please let me know if you have any follow up questions!
Thanks,
Caroline
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Samantha’s Answer

Employers often look for accountants who are detail oriented, have strong analytical abilities, and are thorough in their work. Being detail oriented is incredibly important whether you are in tax, audit, or consulting, as small details can have a massive impact. Something as simple as placing a decimal place at the wrong point in a number can result in a massive difference. Accountants must always be searching for potential anomalies and errors, so it's important not to skim over any details. Accountants also have to be very meticulous when creating work papers and must be able to document every step clearly. This helps to ensure that if someone else looks at the working papers, they are able to determine exactly how certain calculations were made and how certain conclusions were reached.
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Mohamed’s Answer

One of the main qualities for accountants are analytical skills, You might just find an error while looking at your laundry invoice for example, this is also translated to understanding how the economy works on both macro and micro scale.
You should be able after certain years of experience to read financial statements of fortune500 company and analyze their performance.
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Whitney’s Answer

Hi Jessica!
Accountants are generally organized, self-driven and detail oriented. Additionally, a critical aspect of accounting roles, especially in public accounting, is soft skills including being a good communicator and being a team player.
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Ryan’s Answer

• Strong analytical
• Good Communicator (both verbal and written)
• Very detailed oriented
• Being flexible
• Ability to build relationships
• Ability to articulate conclusions
• Organization
• Time management
• Recommend process improvements
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Catherine’s Answer

I took accountancy as my major because of its strengths and there are a lot of them. I believe the greatest advantage of this profession is that it provides a lot of opportunities for an individual. If you are an accountant and has a qualification (i.e. CPA, ACCA), you can find a job as an accountant, external auditor, internal auditor, financial analyst, etc. There is a great advantage as well if you plan to start your own business as you have the financial knowledge as to the business (i.e. financial statements).
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Paula’s Answer

There are several strengths of an accountant. It definitely helps to be good with math with a basic understanding of Algebra always a plus. Analytical skills are always a plus also. An understanding of how business works and how specific industries may influence "business" differently. For example, government and non profits are basically the same but accounted for slightly differently that other industries.
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Karen’s Answer

All of the above answers are true and very insightful. I have been an accountant for many years. My takeways have been that I have always been employed for one. There are many fields that you can persue with an accounting degree. You can go into Finance Analysis, General ledger Accounting, Tax (various types of tax), Forensics. I have done it all and I fell into tax for my long term career. It is sometimes fun, sometimes boring but always challenging. Good luck in your future.

Karen recommends the following next steps:

I would suggest interning and learning what you enjoy.
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Robin’s Answer

An important skill for an Accountant or any Finance Professional is to have a learning mindset. Staying current with the latest best practices and technologies is critical to remaining relevant throughout your career.
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Ryan’s Answer

General:
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 Management:
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.
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Cang’s Answer

One of the biggest strengths is having a good understanding of a companies performance in a purely quantitative way. If you really like numbers, this is a huge plus. Also, you would spend a good amount of time working by yourself rather than teams if you like that.

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.
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Hammad’s Answer

Hi Jessica,

Some of the key strengths for Accountants are:

Organisation
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.

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.

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.

Transparency
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.

Hope this helps.

Hammad Saeed
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Jackie’s Answer

A lot of great answers above!

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!
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Amr’s Answer

I believe that accounting helps you understand the components and aspects of financial analysis and management. This helps you understand the inputs, process and outputs of the aforementioned, therefore understanding the need and use of each element of the analysis/results.
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Ramzi’s Answer

Hi there

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.
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noura’s Answer

In my view, an Accountant should have a very good attention to details in addition to good data analysis skills. An accountant needs to be very well organised and will need to have a very high sense of ethics.
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Rey’s Answer

Strong analytical thinking, focus on details, organized, digital acumen, highly judgmental and technical.
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Kaajal’s Answer

Hey Jessica!

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!
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Gulshan’s Answer

John's answer above is actually very good, and though it may come across as a bit daunting, those are essential skills.

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.

PEOPLE
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!

Good Luck!

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:

Read Accountant Job descriptions, to find out what different employers are looking for and how you fare against them
https://www.topaccountingdegrees.org/top-5-books-for-accounting-students/ - the list is a few years old, but very relevant nevertheless
Read up on some of the biggest Accounting Scandals (Enron, WorldCom, Satyam) - learn from their mistakes
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Hongyun (Heley)’s Answer

Leadership, self-driven, team player, detail oriented.
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Jordyn’s Answer

This is a really great question! Every accountant will have a different viewpoint and opinion as to what skills and strengths help them succeed in their role. For me personally, my detail oriented mindset and strong work ethic are my greatest assets. At times work may be tedious but it is important to remain observant and focused. My ability to focus on details has allowed me to catch mistakes early on before it is too late and be more thorough when completing my work. In addition having a strong work ethic does not go unnoticed in the accounting profession. Once you establish yourself as a hardworking individual it can open the door to more opportunities and projects.
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Diksha’s Answer

Hi Jessica!

I would say accountants are very detail oriented. They focus on every detail whether it comes to finding an error or making financial statements. Accountants are also very organized as they have so many responsibilities. They have learn how to prioritize tasks and complete them in a timely manner.

Hope this helps, and good luck on your journey!
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Laurie’s Answer

Hello, accountants need to have strong analytical, communication (both verbal and written) and personal skills. You also need to be very detailed oriented. Accountants do more than just add and subtract, we help run businesses.
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Blake’s Answer

Hey Jessica,

Based on the nature of the job and the importance of accuracy, I would say being very detail oriented. In my opinion.

Thanks,
Blake
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KAYLA’s Answer

Strengths of an accountant can include project management, personal relationship building, analytics, financial reporting, journal entries.
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Michelle’s Answer

Hi Jessica!

As someone who has just finished their first year in an accounting position I would say an important strength to have at the beginning of your career is determination and patience. The learning curve is steep but after a while everything starts to make sense. It is important to be patient with yourself in the beginning because everything takes time.
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Alexis’s Answer

Hi Kayla,

Thanks for the question. Accounting offers a wide range of career opportunities of which different strengths are highlighted based on the career path chosen within the industry. I have summarized below the main characteristics needed in the accounting industry.

Critical thinking skills
This is a necessary skill in any accounting field you chose. Accounting, in its most basic form, is applying a set of rules to a unique fact pattern. In my field, I apply the tax law (which can be ambiguous at times) to different fact patterns for the companies and individuals I assist.

Project management
Whether you are working on many clients or managing multiple projects within a company, accounting requires a project management skills. The project management skills that are most important are task management and communication. Accounting can be a very team-based job which makes communication skills very important to foster a productive teaming environment. In addition, task management skills will help you see a task to completion and prioritize tasks by level of importance and urgency.

Passion
The truly effective accountant I have encountered in my career are all passionate about what they do. The accounting industry can be difficult at times so you have to have a passion for what you do. That passion is what gets you through the tougher times.

I hope this helps! I wish you great success in your future.

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