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The Top Essential Skills Every Accountant Needs to Master

Whether you are already an accountant or have aspirations to be one, there are certain essential skills that need to be a part of your makeup. Skills that you have to have in order to succeed in the accounting profession.

Define Accountant

Let's first be clear on what an accountant is. In a nutshell, an accountant is a financial professional that manages financial information for an entity or person. The accountant keeps track of all financial transactions in some type of accounting software and also manages all financial documentation.

For those accountants that have been around for a while, providing financial guidance becomes the main value they can bring to an organization.

Personally, when I was in high school, getting ready for college, I had to pick a major. I chose accounting simply because I was good at math. That's it. Oh yeah, and that I could pull a pretty good salary.

Accounting Skills

This was not necessarily a good match for me. I am an extrovert, a people person, and generally, chumming around isn't something that is done in the accounting world!

Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, but after 30 some years in this profession, I have had to learn how to mold my accounting business into something that worked with who I am as a person.

The Accountant Skill Of Skills: Attention To Detail

The first skill that an accountant has to have is crazy attention to detail. In other words, somewhat, or 100%, a perfectionist.

I learned really quick that being a $.01 accounting perfectionist was very inefficient, but as I grew in the profession, I realized that I manage information and, being right, is important.

Actually, I remember hearing that from an auditor one time, "It needs to be right" and she was extremely set on the fact that this needed to be one way, and one way only. Why? Because it was the correct way to handle the accounting. It's like math, there is always a right answer.

Point being, a person can't be willy nilly about their accounting, the opposite of detail oriented. Things have to bug you until you have the information presented correctly.

If you are looking at accounting as an income vehicle, and you are already like, "Well, that's not me". Honestly take a look at if this is really a fit or not. Just the pure nature of the job would drive you crazy if you are a person that doesn't have, at least a smidgen of perfectionism.

Not only would you be unhappy, but you would being doing a disservice to the businesses that you would be working with. Unfortunately, I have had to work with many companies that had an "accountant" that royally screwed up their books and they needed someone like me to unwind the records and rebuild them.

Have To Be HOT

The second skill or trait that an accountant must be is; honest, open, and trustworthy! They need to be H.O.T.! If you didn't laugh, you're probably a REAL accountant! Okay that didn't go well, anyway...

Bottom line is that there are enough crooks in the world and we don't need any of them touching other people's money. But, as the world goes, there are plenty that get into the profession for just that reason.

To be a successful accountant, this accounting skill is essential in creating a working relationship with the client, whether that be your superiors at a large company, or a client that you work with one on one. Either way, they need to be able to trust you.

Honest Accountant

How do you develop trust with your client? What has worked for me is being open and honest with my thoughts and my work. I trust that voice inside of me that gives direction to my work and I share that with those that I work with. If you can do that, and are truly being the real you, they will pick up on the fact that you are who you say you are. At that point, the highway opens up because they will, often more times than not, respect you and your guidance.

These are only two accounting skills but there are obviously many more that need to be in place for someone to be effective in their craft. From my perspective though, attention to detail and being honest, open, and trustworthy (HOT) will create an accounting landscape that will serve you, and your clients, well!

Blue Collar CFO


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