According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 1,332,700 accounting jobs in the year 2014; naturally, not every accountant in the nation performs up to the same standard. Every accountant worthy of their certification should be expected to thoroughly analyze and report financial records, but the most essential characteristics of an accountant extend beyond the bare minimum demands of the job. In addition to being financially literate, top-notch accountants must also possess a number of personal characteristics to ensure that they can provide the best possible quality of service.
1. Service-oriented Mindset
No matter how many numbers may be involved in the job, accounting is still primarily a people business. Accountants must not only be comfortable with financial calculations, but they must also have a certain level of finesse and enthusiasm in dealing with their clients as people. Accountants should look forward to directly interacting with their clients in order to build rapport while learning as much as possible.
In addition to being fully aware of all of the economic and industrial factors, accountants must also be fully invested in their client to learn as much possible; not only will this demonstrate genuine care for the client’s needs, but it will also make the accountant far better equipped to determine what courses of action will be the most relevant for their client’s specific needs.
Just because an accountants trade is primarily in numbers doesn’t mean that there isn’t any room for creative thinking. The best accountants will never settle for cookie-cutter methods if there is an opportunity to develop a better solution.
Competent accountants will have the skill to implement unconventional yet effective approaches to problems that demand more than the textbook approach. The ability to intuitively formulate an out-of-the box strategy to deal with unique situations must first be developed with experience, but before that, an accountant must at least be willing to practice and strengthen their innovative capabilities.
3. Reliability and Trustworthiness
The intimate details that clients share with their accountants must never be leaked to third parties, neither intentionally nor accidentally. The client must be able have well-placed trust in their accountant’s ability and willingness to keep vital information confidential at all times; this is both a matter of professionalism and basic ethics. The impression that an accountant leaves on their client will likely color the impression that future clients have on them as well, which means that trustworthiness is essential for both the client’s safety and the accountant’s career.
4. Strong Organizational Skills
The best accountants will always be characterized by strong organizational skills. Every single bit of data and paperwork must be accounted for at all times, no matter how minor it may seem. Poor organizational skills will be the Achilles’ heel of even the most naturally brilliant and well-intentioned accountants in the field. Being well-organized ensures that accounts are always capable of quickly accessing any material they need, which optimizes productivity and frees up more time for the most important tasks at hand.
The state of the economy and nuances of tax law are subject to change at any time, so it is essential for an accountant to always be aware of the latest amendments. The fact that the field is constantly in flux is one of the primary reasons why an accountant’s expertise is necessary in the first place.
Even if the accountant is fully confident in their awareness of all of the fine details, they must always keep current with the field in order to ensure that their knowledge is still relevant and applicable. What might have been an airtight strategy months ago may no longer be viable in the current time, and a high-quality accountant must always be able to react to this scenario before it becomes an immediate problem.
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The most important characteristics of an accountant are what will drive them to go above and beyond the call of duty. Innovativeness, reliability and organizational skills are what separate bare-minimum accountants from true professionals.
The exceptional accountant must possess two vital characteristics above all else: a genuine passion for their field that compels them to constantly keep up to date with the latest news, and a strong focus on providing each client with even better service than they expect. For the best in the industry, over-delivery is standard policy in accountancy.