Accounting is a wide-ranging profession spanning both public and private accounting, various industries, and an abundance of specialities. And despite the diversity of the profession, there are overarching skills that apply to every niche. From general business knowledge to customer service skills, the following list applies to all accounting professionals who want to be successful in their career:
Overall Business Knowledge: In order to understand how your role and your team operate within the bigger picture, you’ll need a general knowledge of business. Helping you strategize, provide decision-making insights, and serve as a partner to members of other departments, strong business acumen will improve your relationships with outside departments and strengthen your position in your organization.
Communication Skills: As with all industries, effectively communicating is key to being successful as an accountant. Interpreting the numbers for your colleagues – especially for those who are not as familiar with accounting - will help you tell the story behind your accounting. Avoid jargon and steer clear of bombarding your audience with numbers while actively listening to the questions people ask.
Customer Service: Part and parcel of your communication skills are your customer service skills. No matter what industry or path you’re taking in your accounting career, your customer service skills are necessary. Whether your clients are internal or external, your goal is to meet their needs.
Adaptability: Coupled with flexibility, adaptability will help you ride the ups and downs that come with any role but will also help you respond effectively to shifts in your profession or to the industry in which you’re working. Not to mention, technology is constantly shifting. By upgrading your technical skills on a regular basis, you can stay nimble in both your role and in your organization.
Technical Skill: In the same vein as adaptability, you must possess the highest levels of technical skill for your niche. In general, you should possess advanced software skills for Excel, ERP, data analysis, business intelligence software, and QuickBooks among others. Take advantage of professional development offered or supported by your organization.
Specialized Skill: With an abundance of specialities from which to choose, you can make yourself indispensable in your current role and marketable for future roles with a speciality. Whether it’s Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, anti-money laundering (AML), or the Dodd-Frank Act, your specialized skill can guide you throughout your career. A variety of organizations offer courses on revenue recognition to help direct your decision-making regarding revenue recognition.
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