Would you know a good accountant?
By automating processes, accounting and finance teams can shift their focus to more rewarding work. An exceptional accountant can evolve toward providing higher-value services in areas like fraud detection, compliance, data analytics, technology, and business advice. Here are the six skills that exceptional accountants will need.
1. Analytical skills and Predictive Data
For the finance function, providing leadership with historical data used to be quite sufficient. Yet today, companies also expect to have access to predictive data. For today’s accountants, this requires knowing how to turn Big Data into concise, decision-driving insights. Accountants looking toward the future must have both a theoretical and practical understanding of data and analytics.
2. Communication skills
All information is just noise if it’s not shared effectively. As well as analytical skills, the exceptional accountants of tomorrow will be able to skillfully convey those insights to others.
Accountants must begin to cultivate strong written communication skills. The ability to think critically and translate those thoughts into compelling documents. They will also need strong oral communication skills. The ability to convey pertinent financial information to executive teams and stakeholders.
3. Relationship skills
During the “good ol’ days,” an accountant could hide in the back office. Thriving in tomorrow’s business is going to take more than water cooler-level conversational skills. As automation streamlines transactional tasks, accountants won’t have the “millions of transactions to match” excuse to sidestep human interaction.
The exceptional accountant of the future will know how to manage numbers and people. That requires cultivating a broader range of relationship skills today. Working in a team, motivating and engaging employees, and how to deliver bad news without making somebody cry.
It used to be that nobody wanted a “creative” accountant. But in an era when businesses must quickly identify opportunities while simultaneously mitigating risk, a finance professional who can think outside of the proverbial box is a strategic asset.
Accountants who can combine creativity with a deep understanding of the company’s financial capabilities will be able to solve complex financial – and non-financial – problems faster and more cost effectively.
5. Business acumen
Contributing to the business on a strategic level requires more than just an understanding of the numbers. Accountants also need to understand the business as a whole. The ability to provide counsel to the C-suite requires seeing the big picture, from how each functional area works to the best way to acquire and retain talent.
Technology isn’t just changing every job function. Technology itself changes rapidly and accountants today must be ready to use new technology every year. This requires not just a basic understanding of technology itself but the ongoing cultivation of flexibility and adaptability.
Becoming an exceptional accountant
Today more than ever, companies need finance and accounting professionals who can transcend traditional number-crunching. Yet for accountants, making the transition from spreadsheet jockey to strategic expert requires new skills.
Fundamentally, continuous accounting is about unleashing the accounting and finance professionals who have the unparalleled vision to experiment, push the limits, try, and fail. When you allow your people to drive change, they deliver things that scale in a very exciting way. And it all begins with empowering the skillsets that will propel finance organizations into the future.
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