Which skills does the accounting profession need most today?

July 12th 2023 | Posted by Phil Scott

Accountants had a lacklustre image for years. Seen by many as a backroom role, that was technical and dull, opinions are changing as the role of an accountant evolves.

This evolution involves the acquisition of certain skills by anyone who wants to succeed in the profession.

Soft skills such as communication, empathy, and leadership are now essential to any ambitious accounting professionals. That is only part of the story with certain skillsets especially valued in the accounting industry.

The ability to collaborate

Anyone entering the accounting profession is expected to be technically proficient However, it’s equally as important to work with others to produce data that is as accurate as possible. Working as a team is the most efficient way to optimise performance. So, the ability to collaborate is an essential skill for modern accounting professionals. Other soft skills and attributes that are must haves for today’s accountants are problem-solving, motivation, and work ethic.

Passion and a willingness to learn

Accounting firms are investing more in learning and development in order to retain talented professionals. In order for this to work effectively, they choose individuals who are passionate to succeed and willing to learn. So, individuals who have these attributes are valued in the industry. They are able to show how much they want to develop their career and have a positive attitude towards development opportunities.

Sustainable awareness and focus

We live in a world where sustainability has high visibility. Top accounting firms realise this and they are keen to take a more sustainable approach to the way they work. This dedication to sustainability means firms are more likely to hire individuals who have skills in this area. So, individuals who have experience in sustainability and dealing with environmental issues have an advantage in the job market.

Strategic thinking and the ability to delegate at a senior level

At a senior level, the ability to think strategically and delegate is essential in modern accounting. Businesses expect accountants to provide insight regarding the development of strategies and plans and not just the numbers. So, the most successful senior accounting professionals understand the meaning behind numbers and data and are able to advise accordingly. Given the demands on these individuals, they also recognise the importance of delegation and understand that the process must be valuable to the people they delegate to. With this in mind, they ensure that the Individual has the support and tools necessary to succeed.

These attributes are part of the skillset required to succeed in a contemporary accounting firm. They are very different from the traditional view of an accountant as a number cruncher. Today’s high performers have highly developed soft skills including the ability to work as a team and communicate clearly. At a senior level, accounting professionals are strategically minded and are able to advise businesses accordingly. They are also proficient delegators who support ambitious junior members of the team to progress on their career path.

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