10 key skills you will need to become a successful accountant in the digital age

January 2022

As the digital age continues to rise and conquer, accountants will need to adapt to new digital skills whilst maintaining and increasing deeper soft skills such as communication and connection.

Here are ten skills for accountants to focus on going into the future.

Spreadsheet proficiency is always needed

Spreadsheets are always going to be essential in accounting. Most accounting software, even the most advanced, will either use spreadsheets to perform many functions or it will integrate with other programs such as Microsoft Excel. So, mastering the skill of spreadsheets could be considered the most important skill one must have as an accountant.

Not only do spreadsheets have the capability to handle ample data clearly, but you can also analyse the data consequently. Functions such as: VLookup and HLookup, Index Match, and Pivot Tables, among others would be considered necessary.

Additionally, spreadsheets can be helpful for predictive analysis to help with business growth. This would be an added bonus to your skillset and can be incredibly useful to help grow your employers’ or client business.

Get to know cloud-based software

With the digital age, came cloud technology. Cloud-based technology is a vital move forward in accounting as it allows for better management of business data due to efficient automation and ease of access to data input and retrieval. Many of these software's also enable comprehensive report production which means easy, prompt access to previously entered and processed data.

Updated technology knowledge

It can be helpful to ask your employer what technical programs you need to become proficient in for your role. As an accountant the below software and tools are handy to have some understanding of, and could be impressive to those looking to employ accountants:

  • Advanced Excel

  • Microsoft Visual Basic

  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) such as SAP or Oracle

  • Business intelligence software such as IBM Cognos

  • Hyperion

  • Big data analysis, advanced modeling techniques and SQL

  • QuickBooks

Amazing communication skills

One thing machines and digital tools can’t quite master is the human touch such as relaying information to your employer or clients that may seem complex, in simple and easy to understand ways. It is a real importance to have this soft skill, so that, apart from technical skills, you have a point of difference. Many people can learn technical skills with a quick course; however communication is learnt through many interactions and experiences and doesn’t come easy to everyone. With a focus on increasing these skills, it will be easier to get better.

Thorough understanding of business processes

As an accountant, it’s incredibly important to understand how your employer's or client’s business operates. By understanding the processes throughout the entire business, you can see more clearly where certain areas interconnect with accounting and how to address certain business needs.

Legal and regulatory knowledge

Of course, as the world and technology transforms there are updates to the legal and regulatory aspects of accounting. It is a must to be across these, especially in your specific state or area of work, so that all your work is in line with mandatory laws and regulations.

Customer service and relationship building

Another must have soft skill would be customer service. Whether you are working in private or public accounting, great customer service can help you win over people. In the public sector, it could help you retain clients and win new ones. Within a private corporation, you will be able to work easily across departments ensuring the needs of managers and colleagues are met. When people like dealing with you there is often less pushback or delay.

Creativity and Adaptability

Not many people align creativity with accountancy. However, with a creative and innovative mind you can efficiently look for clever solutions to any problems that pop up. It can also help foster fresh ideas to help improve a company’s operations.

Financial reporting and analysis

Financial reporting and analysis is essential to being a great accountant. Even though there are many tools that assist with creating fantastic reports, it can really help to have a good eye and mind to digest financial reports. This can help during times of decision making, policymaking, and investor relations.

It can also assist with increasing profitability by avoiding loss-causing financial steps.

Diverse and global mindset

This may sound like it would take technical expertise, however, developing a global mindset is actually a soft skill that can be learnt. It’s all about learning how businesses work all over the world, across industries, and within different cultures. Looking through a global lens can help with innovation and creativity too such as implementing strategies from similar or even different business models into your own or client’s organisations.

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