Thankfully, the old stereotypical image of an “Accountant” being the Grey suited individual who sits at the back of the office juggling numbers around a spreadsheet has long gone. Appointing the right accounting professional is key to the success of any business, in most cases that individual often goes on to become one of their most valuable assets (every pun intended!).
So what attributes do Accountants need?
Of course, they need to be trustworthy, reliable and honest but then doesn’t every potential new employee. More specifically, in our opinion, a good accountant needs to demonstrate the following 8 traits to deliver success:-
1 - Good Accountants need to be creative
All good Accountants need to have a certain amount of creativity about the way they approach their tasks and to a certain extent their personalities. Routine number-crunching may form part of their remit but by no means is it where their abilities end. These days the expectation is the accountant to bring a more holistic, “outside the box” thought process to play a pivotal role in helping employers come up with new ideas and solutions to problems.
2 - An organised and structured approach
Sounds crazy to suggest anything but needing these attributes as surely any employee in any department should possess such skills. However, they become vitally important in the sense of your accountant. Accountants deal with vast amounts of detailed and often complex data, being able to access the information quickly is an essential part of everyday accounting. Day to day tasks are often bound by a certain amount of repetition, rules and regulations, therefore the ability to organise and structure their day is often key to ensuring deadlines are hit and certainly helps keep the HMRC wolves from the door at tax period ends.
3 - Accountability for your actions
Taking the dictionary definition of the word, it reads, “Responsible for your decisions or actions and expected to explain to them when you are asked”. It kind of summarises one of the key attributes any accountant should be able to bring to the table, I guess the word “Accountability” could well have been invented for this profession. Accountants play an increasingly important role in making key decisions within organisations these days, carrying that level of responsibility, it's important to ensure those decisions are carefully considered ones. The need to be able to explain those decisions brings us nicely onto our next point.
5 - Great communication skills
Simply emailing across a Monthly P & L or Quarterly Forecast to your internal stakeholders isn’t how it works these days. Accountants have to ensure they are communicating the information in such a way that those with a lesser understanding of the subject matter can comprehend. With Accountants playing a more visible and forward role in business today, it’s no longer enough to be just great with numbers, interpreting and communicating the meaning of them is just as important as producing them. As is the ability to relay that information to your audience without waffling, it's vital you communicate information in a clear, concise manner that your audience will understand.
6 - Ability to make use of available Technology
Technology has always played a part in making an accountants role a little easier. However, it's fair to say the influence that it has on the role these days is stronger than ever. AI, Cloud-based computing systems, Mobile Accounting and the latest innovations in Tax software have all enhanced an Accountants ability to deliver more detailed, insightful information in a much faster and accurate manner. In an article published by “Accounting Today”, CFO’s cited that recruiting a workforce who were adaptable to new technologies was their number one priority.
7 - A strong work ethic and integrity running through your veins
Knowing, understanding and demonstrating in your reporting that you know what is right from what is wrong is a critical part of an accountant's everyday life. Ethics play such a big part in fostering a positive working environment and really can help build an accountants relationship with other departments, helping to foster a collaborative working environment.
And finally, but no means least important...
8 – Great attention to detail
As it’s often quoted, “The Devil is in the detail”, this is never more so than in the world of Accounting. What information appears in the figures may seem to be logical to an untrained eye but cast under the scrutiny of a trained accountant could indeed reveal matters than require urgent attention. A good accountant often has that “Sixth Sense” when something doesn’t quite look right in the numbers and can often help to take remedial action before any such issues escalate into something catastrophic.
One thing is for sure, the role of an Accountant has become an increasingly important one in every business, regardless of size or sector. If you noticed we missed out number 4, you’ve already for point 8 covered. If you’re now going back to check, maybe you should stay away from a career in Audit.
Whether you’re a great Accountant looking for a new challenge or a client seeking to appoint a great Accountant, we would love to talk to you about our services, please get in touch.