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Top 10 Skills You Need as an Accountant in Australia

In our post-COVID-19 world, accounting roles in Australia are exciting, diverse and highly in demand. The potential career paths of an accountant are abundant and, best of all, they certainly aren’t restricted to sitting in an office crunching numbers all day. In an increasingly globalised world, exciting employment opportunities are emerging in the environmental and sustainability sector for accountants who are passionate about driving change.

Of course, to prepare yourself for the opportunities and challenges of this vibrant industry, it’s important to equip yourself with a broad range of hard and soft skills to become successful in your new career. Here are the top 10 most important skills for accountants in Australia.

1. A growth-oriented mindset

Your development journey doesn’t end after graduation! As well as your university degree, expect continued learning and upskilling to remain compliant and relevant as an accountant. Post-graduation, you may choose to undertake further accounting qualifications with professional accounting bodies, such as ACCA Global.

As an accountant, you will be working in a constantly changing business and regulatory environment. As a result, you’ll need to dedicate yourself to continuous professional development to maintain up-to-date skills and remain competitive in your field.

Read more: 5 Awesome Reasons to Study Accounting

2. Digital literacy

Accountants use a broad range of software in their day-to-day jobs to analyse, interpret, evaluate and communicate data. Key platforms you will need to understand when working in the accounting industry could include:

  • Data analytics software: Perform analytics on large data sets to aid financial decision-making. Some widely used data analytics software programs include Python and Tableau.
  • Data visualisation: Visually display results from data analytics or other data sets, which is key for monitoring and reporting financial results to non-financial users. Google Charts and Grafana are examples of commonly used data visualisation programs.
  • General financial and accounting reporting: Maintain financial books and records to a high standard – the foundation of any accountant’s role. Widely used general accounting platforms include QuickBooks and Xero.

3. Memo and report writing

Once you extract the required data from the relevant accounting software, you will often need to present that information to your team or wider company in memos and reports. Key skills that many accountants put to use daily are:

  • Technical memo writing: To assess and evaluate transactions and their accounting consequences
  • Professional reporting writing: To prepare planning reports, both at the commencement and completion of projects

4. Written and verbal communication skills

Going hand-in-hand with the previous skill, strong written and verbal communication skills are essential to have as an accountant in Australia. Having the ability to translate complex accounting concepts and decisions into simple, digestible language greatly enhances your efficacy as an accountant. The key to success is communicating the results and insights in simple yet effective language that your clients and colleagues will understand.

Keep in mind it is important to adapt the way you communicate with others depending on the situation, the individuals involved and the objective. No matter the interaction, be confident and engaged to build and maintain fruitful relationships.

5. Ethically minded

In an increasingly globalised world, accountants play a significant role in driving change to build a better one. As a result, if you’re hoping for a fruitful career in accountancy, you must keep ethics at the forefront of your professional development.

ACCA Global is an excellent example of an accounting agency that embraces ethical practices to the fullest. Guided by transparency and integrity, ACCA Global focuses on accounting for a better world, particularly through initiatives such as sustainability and equality.

When you engage with organisations like ACCA Global, you’ll learn how to seamlessly integrate ethical practices into your day-to-day taskwork. For example, you’ll learn how to work in the interest of the greater public; hold corporations, policymakers, and governments accountable; and actively drive inclusion, diversity and social mobility. To become more ethically minded, it is also important to become familiar with compliance with laws and regulations, as well as current affairs, which we will explore in the following section.

Read more: Interesting Jobs as an Accountant, Types of Accounting and Average Salaries in Australia

6. Commercial awareness

Keeping up to date with current events is crucial to work effectively in the accounting industry. It is helpful to stay across both general and industry-specific news through subscriptions to publications such as the Australian Financial Review (AFR) and The Economist. Many accounting agencies will also have news pages on their websites where you can stay up to date on the latest industry-specific news. For instance, you can check out ACCA Global’s News and/or Professional Insights pages.

7. Time management

One of the keys to success in the accounting profession is effective time management and task prioritisation. Accounting can often involve balancing various tasks and projects at the same time. As a result, learning how to allocate your time and prioritise these tasks based on deadlines is critical.

One useful tip to manage your time is to establish your goals and/or deliverables and progress towards achieving them by setting yearly, monthly, weekly, and/or daily goals. Next, rank each of these goals using the following system:

  • Importance: (A=high, B=medium, C=low)
  • Urgency: (1=high, 2=medium, 3=low)

Always work on the most urgent and important goals and tasks (A1) first, and then move on down your list. You can then briefly reassess each of these goals on a certain schedule (e.g. at the end of every week, every month) to know how close you are to achieving them and what tasks still need to be completed.

8. Customer service orientation

Every stakeholder requires different levels of communication and collaboration. The skills required to deal with each stakeholder often vary, so understanding how to interact and work with different types of clients is important. Being able to perform high-quality work whilst adjusting to the needs of your clients and other stakeholders will serve you well in your role.

9. Resilience

Following COVID-19, the workforce will never be the same. From the increase in remote work to the rise of the “Gig Economy”, there have been countless changes we’ve seen in the last two years alone. To excel as an accountant, it’s vital to be prepared for this level of rapid transformation and any challenges that come with it.

Having a high level of resilience can help you significantly in overcoming these types of changes. When it comes to developing your sense of resilience, much of this comes down to mindset. Train your brain to think differently when faced with tough situations. For example, rather than focusing on the setbacks or negative sides of a tricky situation, try to concentrate on the opportunities that may arise as a result of it. Being able to adapt to the circumstances you’re given is a huge asset in any role and in any sector.

10. Teamwork

In an accounting role, you’ll often need to work in a team in a variety of settings. You’ll need to interact with your colleagues and supervisors to ensure your organisational objectives are met. You’ll be required to engage effectively with external stakeholders and maintain positive relationships with them. You’ll need to communicate clearly to clients, all while being inclusive and influencing with impact. This is why having a strong sense of teamwork and collaboration is vital to succeed in the industry. With this skill set, you’ll be better able to develop better ideas, strategies and solutions in your career.