Top Accountant Skills for 2020

Published on: 3 Feb 2020

Top accountant skills 2020

Are you a finance and accountancy professional looking at a job change this year? Perhaps you are a recently qualified Accountant making your first move into industry, or a graduate seeking entry-level finance jobs.

Whatever your reason for job hunting, you need to know what recruiters and employers will be looking for on the CVs of their prospective finance staff this year. We have put together a list of the most sought-after Accountant skills for 2020 so you can brush up on desired traits and tailor your applications accordingly.

  • Technology and digital based skills

    For several years, technology and digital based skills have been gradually becoming more of a focus for employers and recruiters in finance, and in 2020 this skill remains one of the most important for Accountants.

    An understanding of the current platforms available and the ability to quickly pick up newly developed technology and software will continue to be paramount this year, so Accountants whose basic IT skills are lacking need to think about enhancing their abilities through online courses, book research or classroom learning.

  • Adaptability

    Getting used to new platforms and processes will be impossible for those unable or unwilling to adapt, making this the second in our list of top Accountant skills for 2020.

    As technology continues to develop and artificial intelligence enabled processes become commonplace in finance, Accountants must adapt accordingly. But adaptability is about more than just being able to pick up the latest technology: the wider landscape of accountancy is changing, and those unable to keep up will be left behind.

    With 82% of accountancy firms would consider recruiting from non-traditional educational backgrounds (according to Sage’s 2019 Practice of Now Report), the importance of hiring Accountants with degrees and university credentials appears to be declining. Instead, employers are recruiting ambitious school and college leavers for apprenticeships and training schemes.

    A broader range of candidates have already begun to enter the profession, and with educational barriers eroding, university tuition fees rising and employers beginning to realise the importance of a diverse workforce, this is only set to continue.

  • Human qualities & soft skills

    As repetitive tasks become automated, employers will be looking to hire Accountants who can demonstrate the human qualities and soft skills that robots cannot yet replicate.

    Qualities like creativity, communication, teamwork and leadership will become increasingly important top skills for Accountants in 2020 and beyond, but the trick for job seekers will be in their presentation of these skills.

    It is not enough to simply list these skills on your CV. Instead, you must use examples of how you have developed these qualities and when you have demonstrated them in your professional life.

  • Problem solving & critical thinking

    Automated processes may save time and money for accountancy firms and finance departments, but technology is never 100% reliable.

    In 2020, Accountants need to have the problem solving and critical thinking skills required to save time and money when technology fails. Coupled with your knowledge of the digital, the ability to think on your feet and quickly find solutions will be of utmost importance to employers this year as they look for staff whose skillsets compliment their technological processes.

  • Relationship building skills

    In the Sage report, it is revealed that 46% of accountancy firms consider relationship building the top skill for those joining the profession this year.

    Technology may enhance and facilitate relationships, but it cannot replace humans in this area. Accountancy firms will continue to look for personable, confident Accountants whose ability with numbers is matched by their ability to develop client relationships and bring in new business. Meanwhile, in-house finance departments will look for staff who can liaise with colleagues across the business and explain complex financial information in everyday language to stakeholders.

  • Commercial & strategic skills

    Another top skill for Accountants in 2020 will be the ability to think commercially and provide strategic advice, which also stems from the rise of automation.

    While you will remain responsible for many traditional accounting tasks, the automation of laborious processes will free up your time for providing more meaningful commercial guidance. Employers will be looking to hire those who have a keen commercial mindset and can truly see beyond the numbers in order to provide strategic advice that makes a real-world difference.

  • Broadening your horizons

    Not so much a skill as an outlook, Accountants looking to make a career move this year should think about expanding their experience and skills beyond those traditionally found on a finance professional’s CV.

    As the role of the Accountant becomes less focused on the numbers and attention shifts further towards commercialism and strategy, it’s vital to develop cross-sector skills and understand how the different parts of a business work in unison. At work, Accountants should be looking to gain as much knowledge as possible, whether this is through taking on new responsibilities, applying for a secondment or simply talking with cross-departmental colleagues.

    Outside of work, volunteering can provide great opportunities to develop the soft skills desired by employers in a low-pressure environment.





Key skills required this year and beyond will all be influenced by what technology can and cannot do, and what it will be able to do in a month, six months and so on. For Accountants and other finance professionals, the key for a successful 2020 will be to future proof themselves through adaptability, technological prowess and the ability to fill in the gaps where technology fails.