Good Skills for Accountants

good skills for accountants

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Upskilling is essential to maintain a relevant professional knowledge base in the twenty-first century. The rate at which information is shared is far greater than it was historically, driven by advances in telecommunications. Consequently, the obsolescence of knowledge has become a growing concern as the refining of technologies and ideas continues to increase its pace. As new knowledge continues to be more accessible, it is up to accountants to ensure they are continuing to learn and improve as professionals. For those seeking to competitively differentiate, there are several good skills for accountants to make themselves indispensable.

Business Analytics for Accountants

Business analytics, as well as information technology in general, is an increasingly valuable area of subject matter to become an expert in for accountants. The technology skill set of a business analyst, while not as in-depth as a data scientist, is complimented by an understanding of everyday challenges facing an organization that a pure data science background does not instill. 

Beyond advanced Excel, leveraging technology that can handle even higher volumes of data is a valuable part of the business analyst’s repertoire. Comfort with more high-level programming languages such as SQL, VBA and Python is essential to bring new value to an organization. 

Demand for this knowledge is vast and growing, so much so that it outstrips the supply of talent. For the enterprising accountant with a love of learning, this is one of the best ways to stand out from your peers and show a commitment to deepening the profession. 

To that end, Wisdify is proud to offer courses in introductory Data Analytics as well as Stats for Data Analytics. If interested in even more high-level programming, Wisdify also has available a Microsoft Excel VBA Macros course, a SQL for Data Analytics course, as well as a Python Bootcamp for Accounting & Finance.

Data Visualization for Accountants

Data visualization is a great way to gain an understanding of a business problem that is large in transactional volume. Tools such as Power BI and Tableau are great for creating reporting dashboards that summarize vast populations of data for management. Alteryx, too, can be used to make in-depth data analysis more accessible and easier to follow. The ultimate goal of these technologies is to streamline the number-crunching process and instead provide management the insights it needs to drive decision-making. For those looking to hone their Power BI knowledge, we encourage you to check out the Dashboards & Power BI reporting course on our CPE portal. 

Cybersecurity for Accountants

Cybersecurity is a vital area to safeguard the data of companies and individuals and is a hot sub-field of information technology. Data breaches pose risks to the sensitive information of individuals and businesses alike. As these and other cyber attacks continue to evolve in complexity and severity, accountants need to ensure they are gaining strong knowledge of information assurance to protect their clients’ data. The criticality of this skillset is such that the IRS Security Summit drafted a framework for a Written Information Security Plan (“WISP”) for tax professionals. Having a WISP is required for tax professionals under federal law. Becoming an expert in such an area is only valuable in today’s market both for safeguarding and compliance purposes.

Accounting Specific Skills and Niches

For those with a passion for financial accounting, one of the biggest ways to differentiate is to have their technical skill honed by industry. 

Construction Accounting

Construction Accounting’s revenue recognition rules differ greatly from those in other industries, to the point “Construction Accountant” is used as a position title. Property Accounting for real estate is an oft-listed specialty requiring knowledge honed by experience, including in some of the technology tools such as Yardi. 

Cannabis Accounting

Cannabis Accounting, sometimes referred to as “Seed-to-Sale”, is a hot topic of emerging interest as the prospect of federal legalization looms. Software-as-a-Service accounting, “Saas”, is in increasing demand with the rise of the tech industry. As the complexity of each industry continues to evolve, being able to demonstrate a knowledge of niche, recurring financial accounting transactions can be a great way to increase visibility. 

Tax Accounting

Tax Accounting for credits and incentives continues to see a lot of change with new regulations, and creates new opportunities for individuals that want to save clients money. The 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act proved to be the largest piece of tax reform in a generation, creating many opportunities as well as hurdles to comply with, for business. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CARES Act of 2020 became law and provided added relief to small businesses, among them the Paycheck Protection Program. Accountants with a tax background naturally became sought after to help businesses sustain themselves as a going concern via proper compliance with government relief initiatives. As the world gradually transitioned from the pandemic to endemic stage of COVID-19, recovery legislation such as the American Rescue Plan Act created even more funding as well as tax relief for businesses. Climate change, too, is increasingly being taken seriously and led to the passage of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. As a result, a plethora of green energy tax credits are available to businesses and individuals. Being well-versed in current tax legislation is valuable not just for compliance purposes, but as a way to help clients achieve cost savings.

Financial Modeling and Managerial Accounting

Financial Modeling and Managerial Accounting

Financial Modeling and Managerial Accounting, especially for accountants that act in a more consultative capacity, is a great way to create value as well as be visible to management and clients alike. 

For those able to translate business goals into quantifiable metrics, acquiring an advanced knowledge of Excel is a necessity. An accountant more junior in their knowledge of their Excel may benefit from an introductory Excel bootcamp before getting into more advanced offerings. On top of the knowledge, Wisdify provides the opportunity to count this towards continuing professional education hours for maintaining CPA licensure. 

FP&A for Accountants

Applying financial planning and analysis concepts such as time value of money and hurdle rates is critical for a good model. Understanding how accounting can be used to drive decision-making is a great way to stand out from peers that typically focus more on historical transactions. A honed business acumen that can identify the key problem that drove the creation of the model is necessary to ensure it aligns with what management needs. 

Furthermore, having a model that is as thorough as it is easy to explain to others is a “sweet spot” that is hard to achieve but invaluable when done right. Being skilled in financial modeling speaks not only to the analytical rigor of the accountant, but to their understanding of the needs of the firm as well. 

If seeking a stronger background, our platform offers a course in Financial Modeling as well as one geared more towards Real Estate. For more on the Excel side, we offer an Advanced Microsoft Excel course. Should you be interested in getting more into modeling for valuation analyses, our Business & Project Valuation course can help foster skills in discounted cash flow analysis amongst other valuation essentials.

Soft Skills for Accountants

Last and certainly not least, soft-skills in an accountant go a long way in impressing an employer. Accounting is not just what you do, it is very much who you work with. Finding ways to create a collegial experience foster learning and productivity. Any cross-functional teams a good rapport is built with are more likely to be on the same page in terms of the need for accounting for the type of transactions they are involved with. Especially in busy seasons, public accounting or industry, people want someone they can work long hours with and still have a good experience.

To that end, accountants need to ensure they’re being receptive to the concerns of others, as well as communicative of their own. Understanding individual communication styles and preferences is also key to being on a team. Especially early on, soft-skills are the most critical way to build an impression that lasts.  Whether it is acing an interview or getting to know others on a new project, being an accountant that’s personable and great to be around is perhaps the most critical skill of all.  


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