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Accountant Soft Skills Your Employees Need to Have

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Having the right set of hard skills is part and parcel of working for accounting firms, yet what some may not recognize is that soft skills matter equally as much. Soft skills are crucial to the success of your firm – the small things that make all the difference, especially in fostering relationships, serving old and new clients, and keeping your everyday workflow efficient and highly productive. 

Below are the top accountant soft skills that you should look for when hiring new employees or training your current employees for. 

1. Problem Solving

Some of the best skills needed for accounting operations include the ability to spot issues from a mile away and figure out the most cost-effective solutions to these problems. Your team’s quick-to-troubleshoot mentality gives your accounting firm a leg up, standing out from its competitors and bolstering your reputation among your current and potential clients.  

However, problem solving isn’t just about speed – it involves preparation, accuracy, and goal setting. This is why you should hire accounting employees with research skills to recognize trends and patterns to predict outcomes realistically.  

They should also be able to pinpoint the root of the concern – whether it’s the workflow or the scheduling that causes bottlenecks in your accounting firm, and how to come up with solutions (or at least workarounds) to the issues at hand. 

With problem-solving skills like pattern recognition, quick issue-spotting, and backup planning, you can come up with solutions to decreases in profit during certain months, taxation miscalculations, or a sudden error in your automated accounting software. 

2. Decision Making

Whether it’s the submission of your clients’ annual tax returns or the preparation of year-end financial statements, your accounting team needs to decide on effective scheduling so that there’s no blocking or clashing. Decision-making involves planning, operating, and executing the many accounting tasks in your firm.  

While it’s true that an accounting team with a reliable leader goes places, what some don’t realize is that excessive handholding could do more harm than good to your business operations. This is why your employees should be able to make sound, reasonable decisions on their own.  

Decision making skills can also be considered teamwork too – when there’s no leader to greenlight the tasks in your daily workflow, your team must collectively step up and make a united decision. 

3. Leadership

The best accounting firms in the world all have great leaders in each department. A true leader keeps your accounting firm in the black – they push employees to improve, they encourage their team members to upskill, and they train their juniors to be leaders in the future, just like them. 

Good leadership skills in accountancy also manifest in numbers – a productive and healthy work culture is promoted, job satisfaction in the accounting firm sees a boost, and turnover decisions decline in turn. With that said, invest in keeping your best team players – the ones with initiative, rising to the occasion when needed be, and delivering great results even under challenging circumstances.

4. Resourcefulness

What happens to operations when your automated accounting system is down? How about when you’re anticipating fewer staff in a day than usual? One of the most useful soft skills for accountants is resourcefulness – accounting employees having the initiative to tap other resources when there’s insufficiency in their workflow.  

For smaller-scale accounting firms, resourceful accountants can help a lot with budgeting and forecasts. Especially if they’ve had experience in firms of all scales – small, medium, and large – resourceful accountants understand the nuances that come with firm scale and take corresponding steps to accommodate these complexities. 

Accountant Soft Skills Your Employees Need to Have

5. Time Management

Beneficial to any accounting firm, maximizing your daily work hours with accounting tasks frees up more time for other things you’d like to do, like your hobbies or your time to relax. Some methods for effective time management among accounting employees include using time-tracking software like Time Doctor, Paymo, and Quickbooks Time. As for time management techniques, the following are some of the most effective and popular ones: 

  • The Pomodoro® technique 
  • 80/20 rule or Pareto analysis 
  • Eisenhower matrix 
  • Time blocking method  
  • Getting things done (GTD) method 

 

The Pomodoro® technique is useful for accountants who need restorative breaks to finish their tasks for the day. This technique suggests that you should take a longer breaktime after four “pomodoros” or 25 minutes of work. For instance, an accountant will be working on client invoices for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Repeat this work-break cycle four times, and then make the next break longer, like 15 to 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, the 80/20 rule can apply to accountants who need help in identifying which tasks are the most impactful for the team. For instance, if tax preparation is more urgent than auditing, then that’s what the employee will be working on for the day.  

For leaders in accounting firm looking to narrow down the things they want to focus on, the Eisenhower matrix can help you divide your tasks into four according to urgency and importance: (1) low urgency & low importance, (2) low urgency & high importance, (3) high urgency & low importance, and (4) high urgency & high importance. 

If you don’t find those mentioned above effective, then you can try other time management techniques like the GTD or getting things done method, as well as the time blocking method by Elon Musk. 

6. Good Communication Skills

Interpersonal skills are the heart of business dealings – these are what make your clients trust your brand and stick around. Some indicators of excellent communication skills among your accounting employees are the following: 

  • Openness of employees regarding concerns (clients, workflow, etc.) 
  • Team members improving due to constructive comments and evaluations 
  • Coordination of employees in troubleshooting  
  • Efficiency of employees in everyday operations 

 

Note that communicating well isn’t just about demonstrating your expertise in the accounting field – you should also be able to relay and explain things simply, concisely, and comprehensively, especially to those outside of your field. Good communicators in the accounting field make sure that the people around them listen, understand, and remember their message, be it for internal operations or for client management.

7. Attention to Detail

Your accounting firm cannot afford to make mistakes – whether it be client information, computations, or something as simple as schedules. Attention to detail saves you from possible tax-related violations or missed deadlines that could make or break your business. 

A good example of a task that requires attention to detail is staff accountants posting financial transactions in the general ledger (GL). The GL contains a multitude of accounts, such as asset accounts, liability accounts, equity accounts, operating and non-operating revenue accounts, as well as operating and non-operating expense and loss accounts. 

Inputting data into these accounts needs precision and accuracy. This way, your firm maintains its reputation, avoids possible lawsuits, and serves your clients the way they’re supposed to be served. 

Do Offshore Accountants Have the Soft Skills Your Firm Needs?

Accounting firms need a particular set of skills from their team members to keep track of expenses and deadlines, successfully gain, secure, and keep clients coming back, and plan research-backed steps for your firm to flourish. While hard skills like mathematical and analytical skills are essential when it comes to your general operations, it’s the soft skills that build bridges, resolve internal issues, and maintain good relationships in and out of your firm. 

The TOA Difference: Offshore Teams with Critical Soft Skills Needed for Accounting

You can hire an offshore accounting team from hundreds of companies, but how do you make sure they have the soft skills that are essential to your firm’s success? Introducing TOA Global.  

Accounting firms can focus on their day-to-day operations, with our hands-on training programs and courses that equip our accounting staff with soft skills like decision-making and problem-solving, making them highly independent and globally competent. 

From tax to audits to reconciliation, our team of elite accounting professionals can serve clients, execute daily tasks, and troubleshoot issues smoothly – sans the excessive supervision or handholding. 

Don’t miss out on the benefits of working with an offshore accounting team. Book a free, no-obligation call with us today.