As a business owner, we often feel if we had that something extra, something better and something clearer to make an informed decision. And that ‘SOMETHING’ often depends on the proactive approach from your Accountant. As a business owner and as a Chartered Accountant, I understand the limitations that we come across at both ends.
Our profession advocates constant training to be provided not only for technical aspects but also for strong interpersonal skills, organisational competence, and intellectual ability. So what are these characteristics? What makes someone stand out?
Here are 9 points that I think are important to understand the responsibility of a Proactive Accountant:
1. Stay updated all the time
Accountants must constantly stay up to date with the profession. Attending refreshers, going to conferences/ seminars, and in-house training is a must. Technological advancements are also evolving at a furious pace, so these also must be kept up with. Continual personal development is a must, not an option!
2. Story behind the numbers: The Bigger Picture
Providing a data-generated report is easy. Staying on top of all the figures and paperwork is more important. At the very least, they need to understand where these numbers are coming from and what does it mean for the business. Good accountants will have a much shorter list of targeted questions that are developed specifically to aid their understanding which allows them to focus on the big picture.
3. Importance of Time
Every business needs management reports at regular intervals, if not in real-time. If these reports come after 2 months, it is like a post-mortem report – you can read through it but cannot change anything.
4. Inter-dependability and Accountability at each level
It is important to make every effort to do the right thing. Every process in an organisation is linked to Accounts Department somehow. Accountants need to have exceptionally well people skills as they typically work in coordination with different departments within an organisation. They have the opportunity to work with different types of professionals and personalities. Therefore, they are required to be generous with what they know, sensitive to others’ needs, and supportive of their team’s goals. We all succeed when we work together as a Team.
5. Decision making, critical reasoning & analytical ability
Business owners want their accountants to be strong and helpful in decision-making; however, decision-making can be hard. There is always a tendency to put off decisions by procrastinating and concluding that you need more information, only to later conclude that you need even more information. A good accountant should always determine what is relevant and what is not.
6. Trust factor
The information that accountants work with is highly confidential in nature. This is why trust and professionalism are important traits that they must always abide by. Not only is this the right and ethical way to go about their businesses, but having a reputation for trustworthiness will win plaudits in the long run. I firmly believe that we trade on our knowledge and ability, but we only get these opportunities by demonstrating our commitment to client confidentiality.
7. Solutions seekers, not fault finders
Great leaders have the desire to help others succeed. Don’t find faults in the system; find a solution that helps the organisation to overcome an obstacle. Leadership characteristics can be taught, but leadership must be exhibited day in and day out.
Companies are looking for motivated, dedicated individuals for long-term employment. There is no short-term solution, neither for business owners nor for accountants.
9. Enjoy what you do
This last one might appear strange, but I firmly believe that we all need to enjoy what we are doing. There is no fun in a 9-6 job unless you have a good working environment, surrounded by people who are happy and joyful. Work takes up so much of our time, and it is my opinion that mere monetary rewards will not keep someone in a career they do not enjoy. Whilst no one should expect to be smiling all day, every day, it is important we have some fun along the way.
The characteristics of a proactive accountant start with the basics of sound technical ability and a solid ethical foundation. These are considered as a baseline, and the Accountant needs to grow beyond the “rules and regulations” mind-set of our profession. Attaining and maintaining the characteristics mentioned above require a personal commitment but are crucial to the accountant’s long-term success. Have you got what it takes to be a good accountant?