Accountants: New Skills Required

The accountant’s profession has not finished transforming itself. With the development of new technologies, many tasks could disappear. Number crunchers will have to develop new skills if they want to stay afloat, a survey conducted by Accounting Today reveals.

Knowledge of new technologies
The new technologies are central to the concerns of the profession’s leaders, according to the survey.

While skill with numbers is still central to the life of a contemporary accountant, he is also expected to remain at the cutting edge of technology. He will be able to develop his own data management and task automation systems.

“All data entry, accounts payable and receivable positions are disappearing with the new systems. It’s all automated,” notes Olivier Coutou, a chartered professional accountant who has worked both in firms and in companies over the last ten years. According to him, this trend is going to increase.

With certain tasks being automated, the accountant’s role is quickly being transformed, making the ability to adapt an essential competence in the profession, note the leaders consulted by Accounting Today.

Young accountants will have to develop skills that go beyond technique, right from their first job. They will soon be expected to participate in the development of the company’s financial and administrative policies.

“Just as everything manual is disappearing, you win when you go where you can add value, in taxation or in management consulting,” stresses Olivier Coutou.

“Management has become an important part of my work,” he adds. “Everything related to training and human resources takes up a lot of space.”

Human and social skills
The accountant who remains alone in his office drawing up columns of figures is now more of a myth than reality. Whether he works on his own, in a company or for a firm, the accountant has to meet people and analyze with them the financial strategy to adopt. He must therefore exercise good judgement and communicate effectively.

Firms are seeking candidates with judgement, emotional intelligence, strong communication skills, as well as creativity. In a changing service economy, managers are always on the lookout for new ideas!

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