Every business needs an accountant, but what are businesses looking for these days? The accounting profession has changed significantly from the days of someone ‘looking after the books’. Today new regulations as well as more complex systems have meant a shift in focus to ensuring the integrity of financial data and compliance issues.
As well as this, the status of the ‘humble’ accountant has now grown to considerable levels within organisations when they are frequently asked to become all-round business advisors. As such, organisations rely heavily on talents such as analysis, systems and software knowledge, and above all strong communication skills including persuasion and negotiation.
There are many ways in which you can develop these skills. Here are a few we recommend:
Be an active member of a professional accounting body such as ICCA, CPA or NIA and keep abreast of industry news through the training, face-to-face networking and literature that they provide.
- Be proactive at work by suggesting more efficient ways to streamline in-house processes; regardless of how small the improvement this demonstrates your interest and abilities in continuous improvement.
- Become part of a project within your organisation (and not necessarily within the accounting team); this will improve your understanding of the bigger picture and ultimately assist you with your business analysis and communication skills.
- Volunteer for both internal and external speaking engagements. These can vary from industry forums to advising local high school students.
- Act as a representative for your organisation at industry groups and associations.