Every field of commerce and virtually every company or individual needs the help of an accountant. Our economy is dependent upon companies that are able to offer products or services that people want and can make a profit while doing so. Individuals need to make an income, pay taxes, and grow savings in order to make major purchases or retire in comfort. In order for businesses and individuals to do these things well, they need the help of financial experts.
Accounting is all about helping people reach their goals. This is a lofty profession and one that requires individuals who have integrity and a strong sense of service. We also need a specific skill set in order to do our jobs well. And while accountants and CPAs may specialize in any one or more areas, good accountants should possess the following skills in order to best serve their clients.
First, accountants need to have strong organization and time management skills. If not, the sheer volume of work and the complexity of financial data may cause critical mistakes that could damage the client’s financial position.
Accountants also need strong critical thinking skills, since the client’s financial data can give accountants and CPAs the opportunity to direct clients toward financial success or away from financial ruin. But since our clients usually do not possess deep knowledge of financial intricacies, accountants also need strong communication and interpersonal skills in order to accurately explain the numbers to clients and help them make wise decisions about their money.
Security and technology
In recent years there has been an increased emphasis on security and transparency. This not only means full disclosure to your clients of your ethical practices, it means demonstrating sound policies and procedures that safeguard their sensitive information. An intentional and well-documented security policy for protecting your clients’ information, both physical documents and digital data and software, must be implemented and procedures and training must be provided to all staff. Regular compliance reviews should also be in the plans.
In addition, a successful accountant will take advantage of the many accounting software programs available to automate certain procedures, keep track of clients’ financial data, generate accurate reports, and integrate with the accounting systems of business clients.
For individual clients
The most common need for individual clients is tax preparation, which requires tax accountants to be continually aware of changes in tax laws, both at the federal and state level. There are also many opportunities in the tax law for clients to decrease their taxes, and accountants who are fully familiar with these many options will be able to suggest strategies to save on taxes in the future.
Many accountants expand their services into financial advising, helping clients with their financial portfolios. Though not a must in the field of accounting, this knowledge sets you apart and provides your clients with a much-needed service.
For business clients
Your business clients have broader needs than individuals. The accountant should be familiar with inventory management, billing systems, and payroll automation in order to serve business clients. The types of services that accountants offer companies include:
- Ensuring the accuracy of financial data, evaluating compliance with the law, and generating financial statements
- Forecasting and risk analysis based on data
- Evaluating the costs associated with the production and sale of a product to help maximize profit
- Communicating with management and investors and providing guidance on cost reduction, revenue enhancement, and profit maximization
Accounting is a broad field with many potential areas of expertise. The very fact that you are an accountant demonstrates your strong math and analytical skills. Besides that foundation, your soft skills, knowledge of security and technology, and the specific services you provide to your individual clients or business clients will make you a strong and successful accountant or CPA.