Must-have Skills for the Modern Accountant

These days, to succeed in a modern accounting office it’s not enough to be able to number crunch and understand complicated tax laws.

No, there are a lot of other attributes and skills today’s accountant needs to add to their CV. We’re talking about being able to work in a team, of course, together with the ability to communicate with all levels in the office, from CEO to cleaner and, often, to generate new client leads.

If you don’t believe us, just look at what poor accountant Nick Showering is having to go through on the current series of The Apprentice. Now in its second week, the show has already seen the ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ teams undertake two challenges – both of which the ‘girls’ won.

And Nick, 31, of London, has already been ceremonially dragged into the boardroom to face the wrath of Alan Sugar – although he did (just) survive being fired.

Referring to his own skills, Nick told the programme makers: “I know how things work, and I’m extremely experienced. So, I’m a bit of an animal in the boardroom.” Whether he has exaggerated or not, remains to be seen…

Still, there’s no getting away from the fact that whether accountant or Apprentice contestant, there are some soft skills that every accountant should arm themselves with.

@karbonhq “An accountant can be as technically capable as anyone, but if they are unable to communicate effectively with clients, think on their feet, juggle tasks, or come up with a solution to a client’s complex problem, they will not have the same impact as a less technical, but more rounded accountant.”

A survey of 200 accountants by software provider Karbon found that most people believed essential skills for the job included being au fait with the following areas: problem-solving, written communication, oral communication, time management and teamwork. 

  • Problem solving. Thinking and acting on your feet when a difficulty arises, rather than complaining to a superior, doesn’t only make you look good in a client’s eyes, it’s also more likely to get you a promotion to management level.
  • Written communication. Most of us communicate by email these days so good spelling and grammar is a must, as well as the ability to phrase things correctly so people don’t get ‘the wrong end of the stick.’ If the company has a blog, you’ll no doubt get extra marks for putting up a guest post now and again.
  • Oral communication. Being able to for a new client, chair a meeting or even speak up in the boardroom is a must for any accountant looking to progress to management level. Tone, diction and the words and phrases you use are important, as is the way you appear in general when expressing yourself.
  • Time management. Being able to juggle work deadlines, client meetings and your To Do list at the same time isn’t always easy. But you should find yourself getting more competent as time goes on. If not, you could be in the wrong job.
  • Successful companies place great emphasis on teamwork. Being able to collaborate with colleagues is essential in the modern office since everyone is expected to pitch in when the going gets tough. Good teamwork also results in a positive working environment.

Want to find out more?

For accountancy jobs in Norwich – home or office-based