Skills Every Accountant Needs – Set Yourself Up For Success

Accountants with papers

chinese text to speech

My recent blog encouraged accountants to get a plan in place to reach their goals.  However, as an accountant, in order to reach your goals there may be a skills gap which is stopping you from moving forward.

As the children are getting ready to get back to school, maybe you need to consider doing the same. I don’t mean you have to enrol on a three-year course or study for a new qualification (but you could if you wanted to or needed to), but it’s a good time to investigate any areas that could be holding you back. There could be more day-to-day skills which could do with some improvement, which may not take hours and hours of study but will have a fundamental impact on your performance at work and your business.

It may be that you work as an accountant and don’t own your own business, but whatever your role this evaluation is useful to do.

Hi. I’m Anna Goodwin, your friendly finance mentor.  With over 30 years of experience, I know how important it is to constantly review any skills which may need to be updated.

The skills needed for an accountant

The role of an accountant has changed massively as automation has continued to increase. It sometimes results in less interaction with the client directly, which can create problems.

As an accountant, not only do you need to keep up with the latest software, you also have to remember that the clients may need reassurance and support to do the same. Accountants need to have a change of mind and skillset to be open to the transformation.

In my book, Accountants don’t bite, I talk about the softer skills that help you attract clients and also keep them. One major skill is the ability to communicate with clients and help them understand their numbers.


An accountant needs to be an effective communicator. The clients needs to feel that you are approachable and can explain things in a way which they will understand. Better communication between an accountant and their client creates better results for both of you.

It’s a case of:

  • Asking lots of questions and listening to the answers
  • Active listening – reading between the lines and understanding the underlying meaning
  • Present with confidence – and make sure you connect with the audience
  • Become more empathetic
  • Use self- persuasion – this will help clients to discover their own reasons for following a course of action. They will then be more motivated and more likely to do it!

Other skills

Accounting software is used more widely now but this automation isn’t the end of the story.  I know that many of my clients still need help and support with the accounting systems and also in using and understanding the information provided.  Moving forward, skills in strategic thinking and advising clients are going to be crucial.

So think about your role and ask yourself are any skills, or lack of, letting you down?  Be honest with yourself.  These may be soft skills as I have outlined above or they may be practical skills you need for your job.

You could be struggling with:

  • IT
  • Technical skills
  • Setting up files
  • Reading and analysing a set of accounts
  • Organisation
  • Time keeping
  • Delegation
  • Adjusting to home working
  • Marketing
  • Social media
  • Practice management
  • Business development
  • Networking

Whichever skills you identify you need to put a plan in place to tackle them.  This will mean you are more likely to do something about it and also it will make you feel better!

Plan of Action

1. Which skills are causing you a problem?

Outline the problem as clearly and specifically as possible and break it down into smaller chunks so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

2. What do I want to achieve?

If you have a problem, it could easily be stopping you from moving forward.  To motivate yourself, think about what your goals are, and how this problem is hindering you.

3. Possible Solutions

Write down anything that comes to you to be able to solve the situation.  What do you want the outcome to be?

4. Who can help me?

Do you have someone who could help you in an area where you are struggling? What would be your ‘easy way in’ to understand something you currently find difficult?

When I’m mentoring, I often notice how much benefit is received from having someone independent to you who helps you see more clearly.  By sharing and knowing you’re not alone, this decreases your stress enormously.

I could be a day course, a mentor or even set up a skill swap with someone else.

Think of this time as your back-to-school time.  What are you going to improve and to help you achieve your goals?  What are you going to learn?  Do you need to book on a course?  If you need encouragement, maybe a new pencil case and pens will get you in the mood for your next phase in your working life!

Next time I will be looking at how individuals can decrease their expenditure.

Anna Goodwin @2021 All Rights Reserved.