Choosing the right career path can be challenging. It’s not just about skills, interests and industry development, the right career should also be chosen based on your natural qualities.
Alexandra Keleti begins her career in accounting with an MA in Accounting from the University of Kansas. Based on her recruiting experience, there are certain personal qualities that can help you advance much further as an accountant.
Key Features of a Successful Accounting Career
While many people believe that you need to love numbers in order to become an accountant, there is more to come. “Accounting is not just a game with numbers,” says Alexandra Keleti. Of course, numbers are used and knowledge of math is required, but there are many other personal qualities that can help accountants do their jobs more successfully.
Natural problem solver
According to Alexandra Keleti, this is not just mathematics, but the problem of budgeting, tracking, planning, forecasting and reporting. Accountants need to be able to see and understand potential problems. Finding the best solution for complex issues such as taxes, auditing, and complex customer transactions often requires a problem-solving approach.
Highly skilled in communication
An accountant’s job almost always involves talking to senior management, team members, or industry peers about findings, strategies, and positioning. According to Alexander Keleti, these are complex problems that need to be reduced to simple explanations. Even if it takes hours, days, or weeks to work through an issue, you should be able to briefly explain it to key stakeholders in minutes. Explanations should always be clear and informative.
Loves group projects
Accountants need to work with others, so they need to work as a team. This helps if you naturally enjoy group projects because you will be constantly working with other people in your department, other departments, or senior management. In most cases, accountants do not host a one-man show, so they need to be able to work with other people – do their part and keep in touch with their team until the task is completed.
Focused and purposeful
For many people, it can be difficult to look at the numbers on the screen all day long. Accountants need to be able to focus and stay focused. Many aspects of the work require searching until the answer is found. The answers are not always right in front of you, and you need to focus on the task at hand until you are sure you have the right problem and a workable solution.
Excellent with first impressions
An accountant may be introverted, but must be able to meet new people. Accountants also need to be born explorers and enjoy new discoveries. Eventually, this trait will lead to learning the intricacies of a new client’s business or a new problem.
Reliable intuitive instincts
Do you have an instinct that tells you when something is wrong? This can be a really useful trait for an accountant. You will need to have an understanding of where things are going so you can help your company make smart financial choices or quickly adapt to imminent changes. Companies in all industries need to be agile, and finance departments need to help implement this approach.
When you, as an accountant, deal with numbers, you cannot afford to be wrong. You must be naturally organized in order to keep the books of the company, or be trusted to conduct an audit. Alexandra Keleti says that organizational skills can be learned if they are not your greatest strength, but they are an important part of the job.
You should be interested in the latest accounting and bookkeeping tools. Too many in the financial industry are slow to embrace change, but digital migration is deeply affecting every industry. With the latest technology and software, accountants can better control tracking, organizing, and reporting critical financial data.
Ready to teach
You will be surrounded by people who may not understand the same financial concepts as you. Keleti explains that the ability to teach others is an important part of an accountant’s job description. If you know how to help other people learn, you may be better suited to help others learn about finances. This can include teaching people what to calculate tax time for or how to enter a complex transaction into accounting software.
There will usually be a lot of stringent requirements that come down to expert opinion. You could do your job better if you naturally played the role of a judge. If you tend to help your friends or family make decisions by listening to both sides and making a tie-break, then you are a born judge.