An accountant's work requires a high degree of precision and a certain degree of level-headedness. Their’s is a detail-oriented environment where minor oversights can have huge consequences on a client's business. A single digit carelessly added or absentmindedly removed will have a domino effect on how the accounting books will look like, how decisions will be made, and what those books say about the financial health of a company.
With so much riding on these professional's shoulders, clients must be careful in selecting an accountant who will do the bookkeeping for them. Accountants should possess certain characteristics that will allow them to do their jobs well. We've compiled ten traits of an accountant that we believe are very important. Take a look at this list and see if you agree.
1. Updated with the Latest Accounting Trends
It's not enough to have a solid grasp of the basics. Accountants must constantly stay abreast with the industry's generally accepted accounting principles or GAAP, as well as any changes in tax laws. Attending refreshers, going to conferences and seminars will help keep her up to speed on the latest in accounting trends. Technological advancements are also evolving at lightning speed, and turning away from these changes will be a huge disservice to clients and the business.
2. Organized and Structured
Staying on top of all the figures, paperwork, and data that accountants deal with daily requires good organization skills. It saves time because they have a system that allows them to find the information they need efficiently. Having a manageable structure to follow during their day to day work week frees up their energy and resources to analyze, research, and do their number-crunching duties without unneeded distraction.
3. Accurate and Detail-Oriented
These traits are crucial in the work accountants do. At the very least, the numbers they are working with have to be accurate and correct. Doing due diligence should be second nature to them, and not something that they need to be reminded with constantly.
No surprise here: accountants must be accountable. No finger-pointing allowed; they know that whatever the outcome of their work turns out to be, the buck stops there, exactly where they are. Let's face it: even the most detail oriented accountants who always do their due diligence are also human, and are, therefore, also fallible. There's no shame in making an honest mistake that's attributable to human error, just as long as these are not deliberate mistakes that happen too often. Keeping detailed accounts and accurate reports will come a long way in spotting where and how such inaccuracies came about (see trait no. 3).
It's not enough to have a knack for numbers. Accountants must also understand their clients and the type of business their clients have. Having a solid grasp of your client's business requirements and goals will enable you to decipher what types of economic methods or accounting rules will meet your client's business needs. An accountant's views and advice will make them even more valuable to their clients, and give them a good reputation that will earn positive recommendations and more clients down the road.
The stereotypical image of a lone accountant doing their number crunching in their own cubicles is an inaccurate picture of what accountants actually do. They typically work in teams and have face to face meetings with clients and other decision makers on a regular basis. They are therefore required to be generous with what they know; sensitive to other's needs, and be supportive of their team's goals. They have the ability to work with different types of personalities.
They're not solely left brain thinkers. The ideal accountants use their creative sides, too. They make use of right brain thinking to come up with fresh ideas and creative strategies to solve client dilemmas that don't always show up in textbook cases. Paradoxically, being organized and structured in how they approach their day to day responsibilities frees up their minds for out of the box thinking, which are solutions that benefit clients.
The information accountants work with are confidential in nature. This is why professionalism is an important trait that they must always abide. Not only is this the right and ethical way to go about their business, but having a reputation for trustworthiness will win them more clients in the long run. Trust is something that is not easy to build, and it's a trait that must be taken seriously in order to earn good feedback from clients.
9. Top-Notch Communication Skills
Having the ability to interpret jargon and complicated accounting concepts into ideas that can easily be grasped by clients is an invaluable trait that an ideal accountant should possess. An accountant that is able to interact easily and get their ideas across clearly to anyone is a major asset that clients and employers always look for.
A strong sense of integrity and an inclination toward honesty are traits that inspire confidence in an accountant's work and professional practice. This is a trait that should extend into their personal lives as well, because an accountant who has the ability to be morally upright and live as an upstanding citizen is someone who will most likely obey the rules of law. Being a law abiding citizen means that this trait will show up in how they do the accounting books as well: one that is within generally acceptable accounting laws, and one that is obedient of all relevant laws.
Make sure the person who handles your finance and accounting has these accountant personality traits!
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