The modern accountant needs to be equipped with some very different skill sets than the role is traditionally associated with. What used to be a very manual job is now primarily done with the aid of computers and digital technology. While this has meant that accountants are now capable of accomplishing far more in much less time, it has had a significant impact on the skill specifications of the position. Advanced technology skills are now high on the list of fundamental requirements, and as technology continues to change, the modern day accountant has several challenges to face. If you dream of an accounting career, here are the skills you need to have.
1. Basic Technology Skills
The role of technology in accounting is only growing more prolific. That means recruiters are placing more and more importance on the tech skills of the accountants that they interview. While predictions regarding the future of technology assume that these tech skills are just the starting point, every graduating accountant now needs to focus on obtaining the following skills. These are not the skills that are going to be in demand in the future. They are the skills that are being looked for right now and failing to understand their importance could leave you stranded in a very competitive job market.
2. Advanced Excel Skills
All accountants need to know how to use Excel. However, it is more than merely knowing how to add rows and columns of data. The key to improving your Excel skills is learning what it means to become an ‘Excel power user.’ These are the people that understand that it’s the formulas that make Excel useful. While even the less tech-savvy are able to manage data using Excel, power users can crunch that data more effectively, make more in-depth analysis, and get the answers to some of the most complex questions that an organization needs to ask. You will need to learn the formulas that make Excel work harder, and know when to use them.
3. Business Intelligence: Knowing the software
Software is changing many job roles and even industries. Business intelligence software is becoming a vital element of the modern business, and that means accountants need to not only be aware of its value but know how to make use of it as well. There are many recognizable names when it comes to business intelligence software, although the most established name for accountants is certainly Sage Intelligence. The right business intelligence software can seriously increase productivity and allow for easier analysis due to the customization of reports. Understanding the role of business intelligence software in the modern workplace is fundamental for graduating accountants.
4. Data Analytics
It used to be that accountants were focused solely on the history of the businesses that they assessed. The role of an accountant is now just as focused on the future of their clients. That’s why data analytics has become so vital a skill. In an age of analytics, accountants without the skills to make use of the right data will run the risk of either redundancy or mundane responsibilities. That means knowing how to use:
- Data Mining/SQL Programming
- Advanced Revenue Analytics
- Real-Time Models
The modern accountant needs to be an expert at delivering insights. Learn those data analytics skills and your value to a company will be vastly enhanced.
5. Cloud Computing
While even those with only a bare-bones knowledge of computer systems will have an awareness of what the Cloud is and how to use it, the modern accountant needs to have a greater understanding than the basics. That’s because the Cloud has such incredible value for businesses of all kinds. Accountants not only need to be able to use cloud computing, but they also need to know how to best use it for improved flexibility and efficiency. The more that you understand what the Cloud is, how it works, and how it can improve your accounting skills, the easier it will be to seamlessly transition even a large corporation to a Cloud computing platform.
The Future of Accounting
If those are the skills that an accountant needs to have right now, the question of which skills to develop for the future is much more complicated. Modern accountancy courses are focusing on the use of technology, so those entering the workforce will be more fully equipped to face the challenges of the future. If you’re worried about falling behind, it is possible to refresh your knowledge and improve your skill sets with online accountancy courses like those available from Suffolk University Online, which can be studied around your commitments. The work and duties of an accountant are expected to continue to change. The role of the accountant in the future may be very different and more focused on advisory roles, the investigation of anomalies, and developing the right processes so that technology can work more effectively. That will mean:
- Knowing exactly how business processes work
- Collaboration with technologists to more fully integrate technology and accounting
- Understanding data analysis
- Adopting more and more automation
Preparing for the future, and knowing the key developments that are expected to continue transforming the world of accounting is going to be essential for anyone hoping for an accountancy career. The more that you keep up to date with the latest automation tools and software, the easier it will be to provide the value that businesses now need from an accountant. Failing to move with the times and embrace the possibilities of the right technology could stall your career very quickly indeed.
New technologies are arriving all the time, and you need to keep up. While training for accountants now places a lot of value on the latest software and automation tools, it’s imperative that you continue to learn long after graduation. The skills that you learn today will need to be continuously developed if you want to stay ahead of the game. If you do not continue your education and development, or you dismiss emerging trends as irrelevant, then you could be making yourself superfluous to the job market.