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10 Key Skills You Need to Become a Good Accountant

Accountancy. How many of you are aware of the skills required for a successful career in this area? In name, it may not seem the most glamorous career option available, but take a closer look and you could find yourself at the heart of business, making key decisions. 

No matter how big a company ever gets, the need for an accounts department persists. Perhaps that focus is on auditing, maybe management or tax and finance related. Chances are, you will start in one of two career paths – technical or commercial.

For those of you with who feel numerically literate, here are the skills you need to start off on your journey.

1. Innovation

Accountancy has been an indispensable tool of business since day one. No project can get off the ground without a tight control and solid method applied to the numbers. Innovation is needed because, as the business world evolves, so too does the accounting requirements that go with it. Often, recruiters will be looking for candidates with fresh ideas – poised to make an impact on the future of the accounting universe.

2. Understanding

Hand in hand with a need for innovation is the need to understand the field in which you will be working. Assimilating new information and data, project management or meeting new clients forms the backbone of daily tasks. As such, understanding information quickly is essential and it is through asking well thought out questions that you can get settled in no time. Start by understanding the different types of accountancy.

3. Communication

Part of the sacred requirements in any industry, once again communication is vital. Accountants need to convey complex information in the most straightforward way possible. Whether you are an outside firm hired on behalf of a business, or you are part of an internal accounts team, it is likely you will need to work alongside colleagues on every level. Assessments of these skills start when you apply for your first accountancy role.

4. Commercial Awareness

It’s perhaps a little surprising that people forget about this. While certain skills are basically offshoots of common sense, the need for commercial awareness is crucial. Commercial awareness is, in essence, the knowledge of how and where your business fits in the market – how it is affected by economic, social and political movements and how it can forge ahead and evolve. It is about knowing your craft.

5. Enthusiasm

As with any role, enthusiasm is a key component that recruiters will look for. The ability to bring positive energy to a team and truly believe in what you are working towards is crucial. Enthusiasm is contagious; it demonstrates that you are willing to learn your trade.

6. Initiative

Closely aligned with understanding and enthusiasm, initiative is a must have. It proves that you can work on your own, that you are an independent thinker and in turn, it will lead to you being trusted with more responsibility. It is particularly important if you decide to become a freelance accountant at a later stage of your career.

7. Credibility/Integrity

We all have particular brands we are fond of using. Most of the time, the reasoning behind our choices comes down to one thing: trust. The same applies when you are building your career. You want people to trust you. Credibility is the currency that you can trade on. With more credibility comes more opportunity. Through building a credible brand, you are also laying the foundations for a solid future.

8. Resilience

A willingness to put in hard graft is certainly recommended. As with any career, you will start at entry level and, most likely, want to work your way up. It is not always going to be an easy path. An ability to work towards tight deadlines, juggle multiple clients’ needs and remain positive through these challenges is something that should not come as a surprise. Resilience is the ability to keep a cool head and put trust in your skillset.

9. Stability

Although this may not be immediately relevant, it is something to take into account before embarking on your career journey. Perhaps one of the benefits and appealing aspects of a career in accounting is the flexibility. However it is also important to build a solid foundation early on in your career. Changing finance and accounting jobs every year can be a disadvantage as employers will be looking for good CV stability and a career that has progressed well. Make sure you find the right balance.

10. International work experience

Finally, the presence of or the willingness to include international work experience will add another string to your bow. While this may not be something that is immediately present on your CV, it is worth bookmarking this skill for later use. Many commercial businesses are concentrating on the next phase of their organisational growth and more often than not, this is linked to overseas trade. 


Find out more about a career in accountancy.

Find out how to get a graduate job in accounting.