Effective ways to enhance your accounting career this year
There are plenty of opportunities for an accountant to gain experience in the accounting industry at the entry level with a basic skill set. But in order to truly grow and make an impact, you need to constantly update and enhance your existing skills. With the developments in new technology every day, the accounting industry is constantly changing and evolving. Knowledge in performing routine tasks has become redundant as they are now automated. Accountants today need to be able to do more than just crunch numbers, they need to possess the necessary hard and soft skills and be able to drive strategy in the business. Here are the top ways that accountants can enhance their skills:
1. Keep up with changes in technology
In today’s digital age, new developments in technology have impacted almost everything we do. So as accountants, it is essential that we put technology at the forefront and upgrade our skills to the best of our capabilities. In recent years, cloud technology has become a vital part of the accounting industry as more companies choose to store their client’s data this way due to higher security and lower cost.
Therefore, it is important for accounting professionals to become more proficient in data applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning. The tools are important because they allow accountants to automate routine tasks, thereby, giving them more time to focus on the core activities in the business such as business development and creating a strategy. You can also update your software skills in your own time, this will give you a significant advantage in your career.
2. Improve your communication skills
Effective communication is an essential skill that can help you advance your career in any industry. As discussed in the point above, improvements in technology have taken over numerous routine skills in the past year. This means accountants today need to hone their people skills, namely their communication skills, in order to build and maintain relationships with clients.
Gone are the days when accounting involved depreciating assets or accounting for expenses. The most in-demand accountants today have the ability to lead and communicate with their peers effectively, This is not only useful for networking but also interacting with clients and colleagues effectively while advancing professionally. Communicating is not just what you say but it also includes the ability to listen and understand your co-workers and the organisation as a whole.
3. Learn to be a leader
In accounting firms, especially ones that face a lot of churn and problems in productivity, learning how to lead people is an effective skill. While being a leader has been an important asset for many years, the inception of technology has changed the type of skills that leaders need.
Leadership is no longer just about delegating tasks to subordinates or holding them accountable. It is about collaborating with different groups in the organisation and managing virtual teams. This has become increasingly popular in recent years with the rise of the gig economy.
Many organizations no longer follow a hierarchy but have flatter organisational structures. This makes leadership an important skill for everyone in the organisation, not just the employees at the top. There are many ways accountants can grow and develop their skills. You can do leadership courses online or better yet, observe and learn the skills needed for an effective leader from your supervisors, mentors or people you admire in your organisation. Leadership can have a different meaning for each person so the type of skills you choose to learn, depends on the skills you believe an effective leader should have.
4. Customer service skills
Accountants that work in both private and public accounting need to have effective customer service skills. In public accounting, accountants need to be able to retain existing clients and bring in new ones. As discussed before, accounting is much more than being good with numbers; an accountant today needs to have a versatile skill set that includes the ability to connect with customers and strategically grow the business. In a corporate setting, accountants need to efficiently meet the needs of the managers and co-workers.
Customer service orientation can mean many different things. When dealing with clients, it can mean listening and understanding of their needs and concerns while providing a well-informed solution to their problem. This can be paired with a positive personality which can make it easier for the customer to voice their concerns to you and help diffuse the tension when stress levels are high. Keeping your customers happy is crucial to the success and growth of any firm but don’t make false promises on what you can deliver.
5. Develop a wide skill set
The job of an accountant is incredibly versatile as they can work in many different areas of finance. They could either be involved in book-keeping, preparing financial statements or financial analysis. Accountants that work for large public companies can be involved in audit or taxation.
As an accountant, in order to protect your long-term prospects, it is important to develop a wide set of skills and not get bogged down by a certain task or activity. Accountants that have knowledge in a variety of skills and gain experience in their initial years in different areas of accounting will be in greater demand over the long-term.
It would be more worthwhile for an accountant to gain experience in different areas of accounting for three years in comparison to an accountant doing the same task for five years. The versatile experience will also look great on your resume.
Having good technical knowledge in your field of work is important but this does not always guarantee success. In order to grow and progress in your career, you need to take a long-term approach to your goals and work towards achieving them. You can do this by continuously learning new skills and enhancing your existing ones. Use the tips listed above as a guide to help you get started. Improving your skills will help you succeed in your career and open up new doors for more growth opportunities.