3 skills you will need for a future in accounting

A report carried out by Thomson Reuters showed that more than 95% of accountants surveyed believe their role is likely to change due to technology, thanks to the advancing digital capabilities of HMRC, as well as the readily available and affordable cloud-based technology.

Additionally, survey respondents cited cloud accounting services as being the most critical area of understanding for the future. Industry-disruptive innovations have always changed how we work. Our job as accountants is to understand the technology and evolve with it.

“Think of accountancy like a Rubik’s cube,” explains James Harris, director at StriveX. “It makes sense when all the colours are lined up neatly and matching. Like a perfectly reconciled and drafted set of accounts. Jumble up the cube and if you don’t know where to begin solving it, you’re stuck. The puzzle becomes a nightmare.

Working to solve new problems

What you get out of working in accountancy is that challenge to constantly solve new problems, learn new ways of solving those problems and becoming better at your job. It’s very much experience-driven. Keep working at it and you’ll pick up on all the twists and turns you need to make in order to solve the puzzle.”

As accountants, regardless of experience, it’s imperative to keep abreast of the trends. Our future roles will not resemble those of our predecessors, but they will be just as motivating and meaningful.

“I won’t be surprised if automation does take over my job,” says Harris. “But that just means I’ll have to learn new skills to help me do my job better.”

In the fast-changing world of accounting, CPD is vital. While your AAT accounting qualification will set you on the right track, additional skills in the areas of communication, data analysis and advisory will also be extremely important for you to have in the future.

1. Communication

Effective communication skills are essential for accountants. This includes both written and oral communication skills. Whether you are working in a practice, a business, or in the public sector, you need to be able to communicate knowledge, information and numbers. Ensure you are ready for the future by improving your ability to think critically and translate those thoughts into compelling documents, as well as your ability to convey relevant financial information to stakeholders.

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2. Data analysis

With the current pace of change, data analysis is an essential skill that accountants will need in the future. This includes not only having technological acumen, but data mining and extraction skills, operational analysis and statistical modelling skills, as well as the ability to identify key data trends. Accountants should be able to understand data and be able to have conversations with their clients and/or colleagues about business performance, not just about finance.

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3. Advisory

Driven by clients needing help to navigate their businesses through uncertain times, increasing numbers of accountancy firms are moving towards advisory-based services. A good adviser can help clients future-proof their businesses and provide proactive, real-time advice and insight. Clients want more than just numbers – they want to know the reasons behind the numbers and what they can do about it. The exceptional accountant of the future will know how to effectively manage numbers and people.

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The content team are the owners of AAT Comment.

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