Becoming a qualified accountant is the dream of all students of accountancy. Employers don’t really take you seriously if you are not certified as an accountant; and it comes as little surprise that accounting firms can insist on qualifications being completed during a specified period of time. Taking time to study for your professional accounting exams is an investment that is worth the struggle.
The traditional belief is that, once you can crunch numbers, you will excel in accounting as a profession. However this changed with the integration of accounting with other management functions within the business model. Accounting information system, for instance, introduced a new perspective to accounting. Good analytical skills are still a necessity however other skills are now also being required to become a rounded accountant. The requirements of becoming an accountant have been discussed in an earlier article, follow first hyperlink in this post to read more about it.
This article is written to discuss those skills that must be possessed by modern day accountants; the skills described here are both soft and hard skills. Make sure you seek them if you don’t already have them as an accountant.
10 SOFT AND HARD QUALITIES | CHARACTERISTIC THAT A MODERN ACCOUNTANT MUST HAVE
Accountants and military personnel share certain things in common. Good accountants have all the military qualities and combine them with business acumen and accounting motivation. Below are ten skills or qualities that every accountant must adequately possess:
1. HONESTY AND INTEGRITY
Your position as an accountant gives you access to financial information that can be very sensitive in nature. In fact, accountants are twice as likely to misappropriate assets in an organization where there is poor internal control and inadequate checks in place. Honesty and integrity are the two most important virtues that every serious accountant should strive to have and guard zealously. Your level of both professional and business ethics should never fall below the acceptable standard- although what is seen as an acceptable standard in most cases might really be enough.
2. PAYING ATTENTION TO DETAILS
As the chief custodian of financial information (and money in some cases), you always need to pay attention to details. I know this may seem to contradict the materiality concept in accounting but don’t you think that materiality as a concept in accounting is probably the chief culprit of resurgence of fraud and misappropriation amongst accountants? As a fraud examiner, I have come to realise that most massive frauds were uncovered while in pursuit of what traditional accounting wisdom sees as immaterial.
3. ABILITY TO UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE OF FRAUD
To make a very good accountant, you should be able to understand the language of fraud. By language of fraud, I mean being able to capture and analyse symptoms of fraud early enough before it escalates into huge financial loss. You don’t necessarily have to be a fraud fighter to develop these skills; all you have to do is keep up with what is happening in the fraud fighting community and you will be fine. One way of doing this is to subscribe to a professional fraud body of your choice to receive periodic and relevant fraud newsletters. You might want to join the ACFE.
4. HIGH LEVEL COMMUNICATION SKILL
A modern day accountant should be able to communicate effectively using all available medium. Accounting being the language of business means that accountants are business communicators that can fluently speak the language of business in formats that is understood by all.
5. SELF CONTROL AND DISCIPLINE
Accounting is a profession that requires you to always be on your feet if you really want to excel in it. You need to be a disciplined individual that is full of self-control in order to wade off the numerous distractions that you may face as an accountant. These distractions usually come in the form of challenges faced by accountants.
In as much as you need to be a person of principle, you still need to find a balance in your life. You have nothing to lose by being social as an accountant; in fact your life will be made easier if you can find an optimum balance between your work and social life as an accounting professional.
7. HUGE APPETITE FOR LEARNING
Accounting is an ever-changing subject and requires the ability to deftly handle any changes that the stakeholders may generate. Learning is the secret to succeeding in accounting. Your appetite for learning new regulations, standards and legal issues as they arise is a key deciding factor in making or marring of you as an accountant.
8. COMPETENT IN THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY
Accounting and finance are now so intertwined with technology that it is difficult for any finance professional to be efficient without fully employing the services of technology. You need to be relatively savvy in the use of technology to be a good accountant. You need to appreciate the importance of accounting software for instance because accounting software has come to stay whether we like it or not.
9. HIGH LEVEL OF COMMITMENT
You need commitment to get things done as an accountant. It takes commitment and willpower to meet deadlines while preparing financial statements or working as an auditor.
10. CRITICAL STREET THINKING ABILITY
Gone are the days when accountants think inside the box. You need to be streetwise to help stir the business that you represent to success. This to an extent is what management accounting and strategic management is all about. You don’t look at business functions in isolation, as an accountant that does business valuation using any of the acceptable valuation methods, which is hinged on fundamental analysis, the level of your success is largely dependent on your ability to analyse your business in the context of the environment where the business operates. A good business plan for instance should reflect a high degree of ‘street wise-ness’ in it before it can attract fund from the many sources of finance available.
I hope I haven’t succeeded in scaring you away from choosing a career in accounting? Trust me; it is never my intention to scare . All I’m doing is letting you know what to expect in the noble profession of accounting.
No teacher in the conventional classroom will take the time to tell you what it takes to become a certified or professional accountant in the real world.