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The top 9 habits of highly effective accountants

April 10th, 2019

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In recent years numerous organisations have started to adopt finance automation tools which have helped increase efficiency and productivity in the organisation while reducing the chance of errors. This has led to a change in the role of accountants in the organisation as they are now responsible for creating strategy and driving process improvements across all departments. However, if you spend a majority of your time on mundane issues, this leaves less time to focus on the big picture. The goal of accountants is to increase efficiency with limited resources while maintaining the quality of work.

Habits of highly effective accountants

There are some companies that still rely on manual processes and accountants can get bogged down by the preparation of financial statements, leaving them with very little time to focus on the big strategy decisions and building relationships with clients. If you are looking to increase productivity at work with a limited number of resources, here are nine habits effective accountants need to put into practice:

1. Become more organised

To become an effective accountant, you should have an action plan before you go into work everyday. Having a detailed schedule helps you add discipline to your life and provides structure to your day. You also feel satisfied when you check your tasks off your to-do list.

However, mapping out your work day is easier said than done as accountants have numerous accounts to reconcile and financial statements to prepare, especially during month-end. One way to overcome this is to automate the accounting workflow process making it easier for accountants to block out time for core tasks such as business development. Alternatively, having a task management tool in place can help have better visibility on the accounting process and the latest trends in accounting to create better structure in the organisation.

2. Find new ways to grow within the organisation

Pushing through your to-do list everyday can add structure to your life but you can also get too comfortable doing the same tasks each day or month- in fact, some people find it rewarding to make it through a single month. To be an effective accountant, it’s important for accountants to not fall into the routine of their work but rather think outside the box and find new ways to improve continuously. Identifying new ways to grow within the organisation can help you impact the organisation and create opportunities for yourself.

3. Take initiative

Being an accountant involves meeting some tight deadlines, so you need to have a plan of action everyday. In addition to meeting your completing your work in a timely manner, you also need to take ownership; that is, review your work periodically to identify what went wrong and find new ways to improve.

Taking ownership also means finding ways to use accounting process automation to enhance the internal controls and put a standard in place. This can help you focus on the core goals of the business and play a more essential role in the organisation.

4. Document your work

Documenting processes is essential to any accounting department and as a highly effective accountant, you should ensure that the tasks are documented in a way that allows the reader to follow the process and reach an optimal conclusion. If your duties include preparing the documentation for your organisation, you should have a good understanding of the task at hand and the methodologies involved.

What separates an effective accountant from a regular accountant is the extra initiative to review the guidelines with your peers, implement a plan and ensure that all the employees are given the necessary training so that they are able to complete the work as efficiently as possible.

5. Challenge the process

As with anything else in life, you need to challenge the status quo instead of going with the flow. When you are given a certain task, you should understand the process and the desired process completely. An effective accountant will also find new ways to improve the existing process.

With the inception of technology in the finance and accounting industry, you can use automation as a tool to improve the productivity of your internal practices. It can reduce any unnecessary steps and improve the quality of your work.

6. Don’t fear the unknown

In other words, bite the frog first. There are always those tasks on our to-do list that we find to be particularly daunting. We find it easy to push these duties to the end of the day because of the fear of the unknown. As you climb the ranks in the accounting firm, you will be assigned more challenging tasks, making it easier to leave the worst for last.

But as an effective accountant, when you are assigned with a new or challenging task, reach out to your peers who have worked on something similar before to get their feedback on how you can go about the task. You can also conduct your own additional research and learn more about the related facts. Having a thorough understanding of the task you are about to tackle can help make a difficult task seem less daunting.

7. Take a mental break

Having structure in your life and taking the extra initiative to go above and beyond the task at hand are all important tools to help you become an effective accountant. But following a process and meeting deadlines can become incredibly stressful. It is important to take a step back and clear your head before you get back into the grind. Meditation or even taking a walk can help calm your mind, making it easier to focus and work more efficiently. This can give you more clarity when analysing statements and preparing cash flow statements.

Beyond the finance skills that accountants need to possess, the accountants of tomorrow drive strategy and innovation and look for ways to think out of the box and stay ahead of the curve. They should look beyond the traditional role of an accountant and strive to grow and improve in the organisation using tools such as the cloud software, analytics and enterprise mobility.  

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