10 Essential Qualities of an Accountant Every Potential Candidate Should Have

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Jun 19, 2018

Jun 19, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

The work of an accountant requires a high level of accuracy along with a certain amount of composure. When it comes to accounting, details are crucially important. That's because one mistake, no matter how small, can have a domino effect and quickly spell disaster for the financial health of a business. And, in some cases, even its future.

Businesses are well aware of the pressure that accountants face, so it's important for them to exercise caution when deciding who they will employ to do their bookkeeping. In addition to accuracy and composure, the best accountants will bring other important traits to the table too.

In this post, we'll share 10 qualities of an accountant every aspiring professional must possess.

Master these, and hiring managers will be practically fighting over you.

1. Attention to Detail

In an accountant's work, attention to detail is critical, whether it's simple addition and subtraction, or more complex procedures. Even something small, like a misplaced number, can have serious consequences -- so a keen attention to detail is a must.

If you're wondering what to look for when hiring a tax accountant, attention to detail should be at the top of the list.

2. Organizational Skills

To stay on top of all of the numerical data, information, and various paperwork in their day-to-day, accountants must possess exceptional organizational skills.

When there's a set system in place, it's easier for accountants to focus on doing their jobs. Because they're not struggling to find important information or paperwork, they have more time and energy to put towards their most important responsibilities (like crunching the numbers) and can do so free of distractions.

3. Ability to Prioritize the Client

At its core, the profession of accounting is a client-driven one. Without their clients, accountants wouldn't exist, which makes having the ability to prioritize clients and their businesses an important skill.

You see, being a successful accountant is about more than just numbers. You not only need to be able to prioritize your clients, but you also need to understand their businesses. When you have a solid grasp of their businesses, determining which methods to use in your work will be much easier.

4. Effective Communication Skills

The ideal accountant will be able to take complicated terminology and accounting concepts and successfully interpret them to the client in a way they can easily grasp. If you're able to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively to clients and staff, you'll be an asset to any organization. This is one of the most marketable skills you can have as an accountant.

Have the ability to communicate with everyone involved in the accounting process means you'll add value. And, as a result, you'll benefit from a good reputation and may even get recommendations which will land you more clients.

5. Flexibility

If you want to be a valuable member of your company or organization, you're going to need to be able to be flexible. Now more than ever, offices are changing rapidly, so it's in your best interest to be prepared for whatever situation lies ahead, whether it's related to accounting or not.

6. Creativity

While accountants aren't exactly known for their creativity, it is one of the prime characteristics of an accountant.

Occasionally, clients will face tricky situations that are going to require you to use your right brain to come up with creative solutions for them.

7. Great Time Management Skills

Accountants often manage multiple projects or clients at a time. To do this successfully, the best accountants have great time management skills and know how (and when) to prioritize tasks, so that everything that needs to get done does.

8. Timeliness

Accounting is a dynamic profession that changes constantly. As such, it's important that you understand how to keep up with current Generally Accepted Accounting Principals and trends, so you can stay ahead of the game and don't do your clients a disservice by not being informed.

9. Accountability

It's far from surprising of course, but the best accountants also understand the importance of accountability.

There's no pointing fingers here...no matter what the outcome of their work is, the accountant will always be responsible for it.

But accountants are humans too, and they're not exempt from making mistakes. And there's no shame in making one every now and then. The key, though, is to ensure that these mistakes are genuine and don't happen too often that it becomes suspicious.

To keep an eye on any mistakes, it's a good practice to keep detailed accounts and reports, so that when things do come up, they're easy to spot and fix.

10. Ethical

If you want to learn how to be a good accountant, (or what makes one), you'll learn how to approach situations ethically. If you want the hiring manager or your clients to be confident in you and your abilities, show them that you're an honest person with integrity who will always do the right thing.

Of course, you'll want to be law-abiding in your professional space, but also in your personal one, too. And if you're not, you can expect to be found out eventually.

Master These Qualities of an Accountant

As you've learned, there are many different qualities of an accountant which are necessary to be successful in this profession.

Many of these qualities are ones you may already possess, however. And if you don't possess some of them? Don't worry, as these are all things that can be learned with time and experience.

To impress hiring managers while you're looking for a job in accounting, you'll want to demonstrate any of these qualities you do have on your resume, cover letter, and, of course, in the interview. By doing so, you'll prove to them that you're a worthwhile candidate, and, if not perfect, that you're excited about working to gain the qualities you don't already possess.

Speaking of looking for things, are you looking for more helpful career advice and tips?

Like how to work on your presentation skills, for example?

Check out our website today for these tips and so much more.