7 Critical Accounting Skills You Need to Succeed in 2021
Accountants today need to be able to do more than just crunch numbers. Coming into 2021, accounting professionals are expected to go above and beyond organisation and time management; to make sure you don’t get left behind, you have to constantly update your skillset. To succeed as an accountant in 2021, you need modern skills that match the most recent technology.
Staying up to date is a huge challenge in the accounting industry, especially now that automation is on the rise. 45.9% of accountants believe new technology and digital disruption is one of the top 3 greatest business challenges, while 23.7% believe that recruiting skilled and qualified talent in the future will be difficult.
There’s one way to combat the automation of the accounting industry — embrace it. Believe it or not, automation and AI accounting technology won’t steal your accounting job, it will actually benefit it: over 72% of accountants believe that technology has improved their efficiency at work, reducing time spent on administrative tasks and improving the quality of their service overall.
If you want to excel as an accountant in 2021, you need to update your CV to account for the new tech on the rise. This article will explore a range of soft and hard skills that you can use to improve and update your CV.
1. General Industry Knowledge
No matter how much technology develops, there’s general industry knowledge and technical skills that every accountant needs. Accounting firms expect more than proficiency with Microsoft excel. They expect competencies like:
Essentially, to prove that you have general accounting knowledge, you need to demonstrate to your employer that you understand the basics. This could be as simple as learning how to record financial statements, one of the many baseline skills every accountant needs.
By learning the basics, you can widen the scope of your accounting skills, which will allow you to draw from different areas of expertise and coordinate with other team members more efficiently.
If you’re new to accounting, developing your general industry knowledge will help you to determine if this is the right career path for you. On top of that, you can discover if there’s a specific niche that speaks to you — if your skills shine in a certain area, embrace that!
2. Customer Focus
A lot of people think that accountants just need to be good at crunching numbers, but in reality, accountants need to have flawless people skills, too. COVID-19 was a huge barrier in the customer service area of accounting over the past year, so coming into 2021, 42% of accountants have set their main focus on client retention.
Great accountants have great communication skills — to maintain your client base, you need to make sure your customers feel heard by maintaining consistent communication.
Your interpersonal skills will determine how much your clients trust your abilities, which will directly affect your influx of customers.
Beyond that, accountants also deal with a lot of complicated financial data; your customers are hiring you to simplify this financial information for them. At the end of the day, you’re essentially translating numbers into digestible information. To help your clients understand, you need to be able to communicate as effectively and warmly as possible.
3. Regulatory Knowledge
This is another simple baseline skill that every accountant needs: regulatory knowledge. Every working accountant needs to have a strong understanding of current government regulations according to CPA standards. This is the kind of technical knowledge all certified public accountants need.
Understanding current government regulations will help you to make informed decisions for your client’s businesses. Strong regulatory knowledge is particularly valuable in specific areas within accounting firms, like international trading and cryptocurrency markets.
No matter how much modern accounting develops, a strong understanding of government regulations is always going to be a valuable skill that’s worth your time.
4. Adaptability and Enthusiasm
All accountants need to be adaptable; the industry is constantly changing and you need to be ready to embrace every change.
Over recent years, modern accounting methods have been updated constantly. In fact, a lot of services we associate with traditional accounting are being automated altogether, with bookkeeping, data collection and tax return preparation expected to be the most impacted by automation in coming years.
Keeping up-to-date with these changes will make you much more hireable as a modern accountant. It’s time to shift your perspective — rather than getting hired as bookkeepers, accountants these days are getting hired for their experience with automation.
Your understanding of automation and other modern accounting methods will demonstrate how adaptable you are as an employee. Your adaptability also proves your enthusiasm. It’s impossible to stay stagnant in this kind of career; there’s always something new to learn.
5. Up-to-Date Technical Knowledge
Outside of automation, your technical knowledge should reflect all the current trends in accounting. For example, cloud computing has grown significantly in recent years. Over half of small businesses in Australia now use a type of cloud accounting software.
Accounting trends change all the time and reflect the recent tech advancements in the industry. To prepare for 2021, work on your professional development by doing your research and discover which accounting trends are on the horizon.
To get hired, your experience should reflect what’s relevant in the market. The best way to do this is to keep your technical knowledge as up-to-date as possible.
6. Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is an essential skill in most careers, but it’s especially relevant to accounting. As an accountant, your clients expect you to make critical decisions for their businesses.
Every decision you make for your client should consider budgeting, risk management, growth assessment, changing regulations, and more. When making these decisions, you’ll need critical thinking and problem-solving skills to evaluate each situation effectively.
If you use your critical thinking skills to your advantage, an accounting career can be really rewarding. By thinking creatively and critically, you can help each and every client reach the best possible outcome.
7. Specialised Experience
Once you have a strong grasp of all the basics, you can add some edge to your CV by including some specialised work experience. Specialisation will not only complement your existing skills, but also set you apart from other candidates.
Areas of accounting you can specialise in include fields like:
Specialisation is a great way to tailor your career to your own interests, making your day-to-day job all the more rewarding.
Specialising will also allow you to upskill and enhance any existing accounting experience you already have. This will make it a lot easier to start your own bookkeeping business later on in your career.
If you’re looking for a career that keeps you on your toes and up to date, a career in accounting could be everything you’ve been looking for. If you already have the soft skills for an accounting career, the hard skills are easy to learn. Get started today.