Top Finance and Accountancy Skills to Develop and Nurture

Published on: 23 Oct 2023
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Top Finance and Accountancy Skills

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

Of course, there are essential technical skills to maintain and regularly update in Accountant jobs. Such skills are specific to each role and are almost always specified within the job description, but Accountants cannot just rely on being technically strong, in fact, it is a combination of technical skills with soft skills that really make candidates stand out. Soft skills, due to the ever evolving nature of the world around us, seem to be constantly changing. It is our job as Accountants to keep up to date with the top soft skills sought by employers, to stand out on job applications and within our current roles.

We have put together a list of the top finance and accountancy skills to develop and nurture in order to excel in your career.

  • Technological Proficiency

    Being technologically proficient is another key skill to nurture as many companies continue to adapt to this new way of working following the global pandemic. Working from home and liaising with clients virtually, has forced many accounting firms to modernise their technology. This includes adopting new systems such as cloud-based technologies. Accountants need to be able to keep up with technological advancements in order to perform their roles efficiently, and perhaps even have a keen interest in finding ways to modernise their practice. For jobseekers, technological proficiency also extends to being able to adjust and pick up new technologies quickly.

  • Flexibility and Adaptability

    With the rise of hybrid or homeworking jobs, the ability to be flexible is more important than ever and therefore a top skill to be nurtured throughout your career.

    For those who are required to spend part of their week at home and part of the week in the office, the ability to adapt to different environments is vital. The key to being flexible is demonstrating a willingness to adapt and manage change well. In order to do so, it’s important to recognise potential challenges so you’re well prepared to deal with these and subsequently manage transitions better.

    As technology continues to develop and artificial intelligence enabled processes become commonplace in finance, Accountants must adapt accordingly. However, adaptability is about more than just being able to pick up the latest technology. Employers look for people who have an intuition for what might come next and will be continuously looking ahead or thinking “what if?”. As with any industry, the wider landscape of accountancy is forever changing, and those unable to keep up will be left behind.

  • Leadership and Risk Taking

    When considering more senior positions such as Finance Manager or Finance Director jobs, leadership and risk taking are key attributes to possess.

    Successful finance leaders are those that thrive on change and development and those that have a robust personality to withstand criticism / resistance and who naturally lead by example. To lead effectively, you must possess the ability to push back and challenge at all levels if and when required. You also must have the ability to persuade, convert or neutralise others influence or opinion when it comes to management decisions which may compromise the objectives of key projects.

    Employers look for confidence in judgement with the effective evaluation and calculation of risk. You need to take risks in business and the humility to put yourself on the line is attractive to employers and will earn you respect. A successful finance leader will be highly skilled in providing detailed risk management provisions, contingency and exit planning, must form opinions and back up their insights and decisions with solid research and due diligent planning.

  • Human Qualities and 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 but 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.

    Depending on the kind of organisation you are working for you will need to strike a balance between being communicative, while remaining firm when dealing with other departments who may have different priorities. Within the accountancy and finance, having a good emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) becomes more important as you move up the ranks and have to deal with more stakeholders.

    Nurturing interpersonal skills is also paramount to thriving in accountant jobs. As roles become more independent, there are less opportunities to collaborate with colleagues, putting our natural ability to work well as a team and liaise with others at risk. Those who do not actively work on developing their interpersonal skills could find themselves at a major disadvantage if required to work in an office or could potentially risk losing valuable clients who value excellent customer service.

  • Communication

    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 and explain complex financial information or accounting principles in an easy to understand way to stakeholders. It is essential that you can ‘relate and translate’. This means having the skills to understand and communicate with different personality types and tailor vocabulary and language and how they present complex information to suit the audience.

    However, having to do this virtually - sometimes with bad internet connection - or over email adds an extra layer of complexity. Therefore, nurturing excellent verbal and written communication skills is paramount to ensure the same level of service is delivered to both your clients and colleagues.

  • Critical Thinking

    Automated processes may save time and money for accountancy firms and finance departments, but technology is never 100% reliable. 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 world, the ability to think on your feet and quickly find solutions will be of utmost importance to employers as they look for staff whose skillsets compliment their technological processes.

  • Autonomy

    Remote working has made certain roles a lot more autonomous, creating a great important for Accountants to learn the art of being more independent. Ways to cultivate autonomy include creating your own schedule, setting your own deadlines, asking the right questions when a task is set and ensuring you fully understand what is being required of you. Becoming more decisive and assertive also plays a massive part in becoming more autonomous in your role.

  • Accountancy and Finance Jobs on GAAPweb

    Key skills in accountant jobs will all likely be influenced by the capabilities of technology and the hybrid/remote working structures going forward. For accountancy and finance professionals, the key for a success will be to future proof themselves through adaptability, technological prowess and the ability to fill in the gaps where technology fails.

    Keep up to date with the latest findings, within the GAAPweb salary survey, detailing the in-demand skills, salaries, and latest job hunting priorities of job seekers.

    Check out the the GAAPweb careers blog for further guides and advice, or if you are ready to apply for your next role then browse the latest accountancy and finance jobs today.