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7 core skills accountants should develop and enhance

Aug 2, 2021 | Tips

While accountants may be well-educated professionals boasting long and prosperous careers in the industry, no one is ever beyond learning something new.

The world is moving quicky when it comes to technology. Client needs, modes of working, and keeping up to date with the necessary skillsets will serve any accounting professional well.

Which key areas can you invest time into to stay educated and well-trained?

1) Workflow techniques and technology

The arena of workflow tools and apps keeps swelling, with new products and ideas constantly hitting the market.

These tools centralise and simplify the way we work through a variety of tasks (client facing or administrative) and intended outcomes.

Workflow tools like APS Workflow+ also have a lot of cross functional capacity and will become a core hub of communication, to the downfall of email.

Get used to ditching email and calendars and now fully embrace the new time saving, efficiency boosting tools available. Upskilling yourself on new workflow tools and techniques through online courses or educational videos is well advised.

2) Data science and predictive analysis

Gaining capacity in data science and predictive analysis is an area that will serve every future-focused accountant very well.

While in the recent past, mastery of historical data was enough, we now need to be making high level predictions based on larger sets of complex data. This requires not only the right tools (and training in those tools) but also higher levels of theoretical competency.

The accountants who want to adapt and learn how to be masters of data, and thus predictive analysis, need to further their understanding of theoretical and practical big data and analytics. Start with reading the whitepaper “The final frontier of accounting: How the rise of AI and predictive analytics is changing the numbers game”.

If there’s not scope for upskilling in this area, prudent hiring of data savvy up-and-coming accountants is another way forward.

3) Relationship building

On top of a serious numbers game, you also need to spend energy developing relationship skills. Beyond basic communication and listening skills, the need for accountants to become relationship specialists will only increase.

Relationships not only lead to a far deeper understanding of clients’ needs, businesses, goals and therefore outcomes, it also builds a social connectivity that leads to long term clientele and a more robust and resilient firm.

4) Mastery of marketing and thought leadership

Even if you’ve nailed your core competencies and have invested time in upskilling to keep your nose ahead of the competition (and on top of client needs) you still need to market your firm effectively.

Becoming a thought leader through your social media marketing efforts is a key area you’ll want to invest in. It will futureproof your firm and present yourself as a trustworthy source of valuable advice.

Research and absorb both the theory and practice of:

  • live social media Q&A’s
  • thought leadership blog writing skills
  • short informational videos
  • branding improvements
  • ROI driven advertising
  • creating marketing content and keeping a social media calendar

5) Cybersecurity

While this may be something you outsource responsibility for, re-educating yourself, staff and colleagues about cybersecurity is increasingly crucial. By reviewing your systems and practices, especially around scams, cloud security, premise security and data access, you’ll become even more dependable and secure.

Any breach of cybersecurity (whether from a lost laptop, phishing scam, onsite breach, or unauthorised data access) represents an existential threat to the survivability of your firm.

Be sure to continually engage in education around the increasingly sophisticated ways nefarious actors are breaching security and how you can safeguard yourself.

At the end of the day, what would happen if a key client’s data was stolen, or you were hit with a ransomware attack? Learn more in our whitepaper about how trends in cybersecurity will impact accountants.

6) Shifting government regulations, grants and schemes

You’ll need to become adept at memorising and comprehending the raft of shifting government schemes and incentives in the age of COVID-19.

With schemes emerging and retiring, shifting goal posts and temporary incentives all on the table, your job is to be on top of them all and positioned to advise business clients on relevant measures.

7) Emerging needs of struggling businesses

Keeping an ear to the ground when it comes to new threats and changes to the business community is a key area that needs continual development and monitoring.

More than ever, you’ll be relied upon as a faultless and dependable source of advice and information as to how they should proceed through choppy waters.

Being able to predict cashflow issues, shifting business models and offer more predictive and debt prevention services will become even more prominent and necessary.

To find out more about APS software, visit www.aps-software.com.

APS is a division of Reckon, an ASX listed company. We develop the software used by the best Accounting Firms in Australia and New Zealand to run their business’ and advise their clients.