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20-Oct-2020 By - team

Qualities which an accountant should have

Clients expect accountants to have great organisation skills and boast a high degree of precision, but there is more to being an exceptional practitioner than these two traits.

Professional accountants are often thought of as extremely precise, with a keen eye for detail and vast amounts of practical knowledge, and rightly so. If you make even a small mistake in this environment, it can have a huge impact on a client’s business.

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Certainly, accounting books provide a basis for business decisions and measure the financial health of a company, so, naturally, accountants are expected to have great organisation skills and boast a high degree of precision.

Accountants manage a lot of responsibility in an organisation, so it’s safe to say they are important people. An honest mistake made by an accountant such as adding or omitting a single digit to a set of numbers can have a huge impact on how accounting books will look like and on the decision making process.

Therefore, the accountant needs to possess certain qualities that will make him exceptional and effective in performing his duties. Identifying these key qualities can lead to success on the job, increase job satisfaction and make it easier for you to build a firm foundation toward your long –term career goals. This begs the question ‘what are these qualities that make a great accountant?’ Take a look at this list.

If you’re searching for an accountant for your business, you probably have a list of boxes you want ticked to ensure you’re getting the best professionals available. Of course, every business owner wants qualities like:

  • Highly organised
  • Attentive to detail
  • Manages time well
  • Adaptable
  • Communicates articulately
  • Works hard
  • Learns easily
  • Creative
  • Trustworthy

 

But those are qualities you’d expect from nearly everyone you do business with, right? At Scrubbed, we like to think there are other qualities your accountants should possess that are more specific to the finance industry and that help guarantee your business’s success.

These characteristics aren’t just related to one person but should be embraced company-wide. Here’s our list of the nine top qualities of a great accounting firm to help you find the pros who are best suited for your business.

 

Possesses Diverse Knowledge

Accounting is more than just keeping a ledger by adding and subtracting numbers. There are a lot of moving parts to accounting, and sometimes startup entrepreneurs aren’t even aware of all the elements encompassed by accounting. We think good accountants are often most helpful when they tell you what you don’t already know, helping you find areas for financial improvement you never knew existed.

Your business accountants should have knowledge diversity to provide a broad range of services. You don’t want to have to go to one accountant for your chequebook management and another for your taxes. Scrubbed is pleased to offer services in the following areas:

Accounting and bookkeeping: general ledger maintenance, bank reconciliation, purchase-to-pay, order-to-cash, cost accounting, inventory system support, financial reporting, and payroll setup and support

Corporate finance: financial modelling, pitch decks, transaction advisory services, and financial planning and analysis

Tax compliance and advisory: tax planning, state and local taxes, tax support services, and income tax preparation and filing

Professional support: SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) compliance, audit support, controllers, and transaction advisory for buy-side and sell-side (mergers and acquisitions)

 

Has Serious Experience

Being able to offer a sweeping array of services properly can only come from experience. You want to know that your accountants have performed these tasks many times.

The best way to find out if an accountant is experienced in the areas you require is first to check out their website (they have a website, don’t they?) and then to ask about specifics in your initial consultation. Any accountants you consider should have testimonials or be able to offer references from previous or ongoing clients.

It may be tempting to go with an accounting firm of older employees, thinking they’ll have the experience you need. But while you don’t want a firm of only recent graduates, there’s no guarantee senior accountants have the experience you require.

Some near-retirement accountants may have practised law or real estate first or spent more time in management than performing actual accounting tasks. A relatively young firm with cumulative years of experience often gives you a lot of hands-on background knowledge with the energy to get the job done for you.

 

Works With Your Business Sector

Your accountants’ knowledge and experience should extend to your particular area of business. While ideally, a prospective accounting firm will have dealt with many different types of industry, they need to have worked with yours.

An accountant who only handles automotive shops, for example, will not likely be familiar with the nuances of accounting for a cannabis business. Be sure to ask any accountants you are interviewing if they have experience in your business type.

If you need a specialty accountant for a niche business, it’s more important that they have experience specific to your area than to find an accountant that’s handled thousands of clients but none close to your business.

 

Stays On Top of industry Changes

Hand in hand with an accountant that understands your business sector is their ability to stay current with industry changes. Naturally, you’ll expect your accountant to know about new tax codes and finance law that affects your enterprise. But you also want them to know about trends in your industry, like employment statistics, salaries, outsourcing, important new legislation, and recent mergers and acquisitions.

 

Understands the Range of Business Sizes

Have you approached accountants previously, only to find they only deal with big international conglomerates? Or, conversely, have you found some firms don’t understand the complexity of anything larger than a small office?

 

Your accountants need to be comfortable with a range of business sizes. Why? So they can change and grow with you. You don’t want to have to switch accountants midstream if a sudden influx of cash boosts you out of startup territory. Nor do you want to give up your current accountants if as a large company you spin-off another business as a startup venture.

Along with understanding different business sizes is being comfortable with various foreign business settings and markets. For example, Scrubbed has offices in San Francisco and the Philippines, which gives them an edge by being familiar with both Asian and American business environments.

 

Uses Latest Technology

It’s great for your accountants to have the most diverse background possible and one that aligns perfectly with your business. It’s even better if they can apply the latest technology to make your accounting practices more efficient. Not only will you save money in the long run, but you’ll also know there are fewer errors, and you’ll be able to stay abreast of your industry and your competition.

At Scrubbed, we utilise the top software platforms and know-how to integrate these with your IT and current business practices for the most seamless accounting available. Some of the top programs and platforms we use include:

 

This lets us handle all of the functions listed above and more. We make it our goal that if you need an accounting service, we’ll provide it and do it well.

 

Maintains Proper Certifications and Continuing Education

In order to be able to offer the latest technology to our Scrubbed clients, we take maintaining all the proper certifications and undergoing continuing education seriously. This is something you should demand from any accounting firm you are considering working with.

At Scrubbed, we maintain special relationships with the accounting programs and platforms we use for our clients. Our staff go the extra mile to become certified in the programs they’re using, and our volume of experience ensures our clients we know how to get the most from these services:

  • Xero: Platinum Champion Partner
  • Expensify: Approved Bronze Partner
  • Gusto: Silver Partner
  • Dear Systems: Proud Partner
  • Bill.com: Guru
  • Cin7: Proud Partner
  • QuickBooks: Certified QuickBooks User

 

When you work with Scrubbed, you can rest assured that only staff who are knowledgeable about these platforms are working with your books.

 

Has Security and Internal Controls

If you’re giving your accountants all your financial information and perhaps even access to your inventory systems, chequebook, and tax filing, you want to make sure your data stays secure.

Here are some safety measures that accountants like Scrubbed use to make sure your business is not at risk of a security breach, whether through cyber theft or human error:

  • Team leader with subtasks divided among personnel as a means of internal control by limiting access to too much financial information
  • Updated hardware and latest software, whether internal or SaaS (software as a service using a subscription plan, often cloud-based)
  • Password protection and cybersecurity measures, including data encryption
  • Employee screening and vetting
  • Employee certification on relevant software
  • Backup plan for data in the event of a natural disaster or other disruption

 

Makes Working Together Easy

Finally, teaming with your accountants should be a pleasure, not a headache. Remember, they are working for you, not the other way around. Here are some signs that an accounting firm is customer-centric:

  • At your initial meeting, they ask a lot of questions about your business, rather than simply providing information about themselves.
  • They offer services that grow with you, with a range of price tiers that take into account different size business at various stages of development.
  • The accountants offer staffing consistency instead of a revolving door of consultants each time you meet.
  • They have time for your calls and respond in a timely manner to questions or requests you have.
  • They treat small businesses and large corporations equally well.
  • When doing your books, planning for an audit, or helping you prep for a big investors meeting, they explain the process to you.
  • They offer proactive strategies at regular intervals and don’t just provide the bare minimum at urgent deadlines.
  • Rather than trying to run up your bill, they show you how you can save money with your accounting firm.

 

Service-oriented Mindset

No matter how many numbers may be involved in the job, accounting is still primarily a people business. Accountants must not only be comfortable with financial calculations, but they must also have a certain level of finesse and enthusiasm in dealing with their clients as people. Accountants should look forward to directly interacting with their clients to build rapport while learning as much as possible.

In addition to being fully aware of all of the economic and industrial factors, accountants must also be fully invested in their client to learn as much possible; not only will this demonstrate genuine care for the client’s needs, but it will also make the accountant far better equipped to determine what courses of action will be the most relevant for their client’s specific needs.

 

Innovativeness

Just because an accountants trade is primarily in numbers doesn’t mean that there isn’t any room for creative thinking. The best accountants will never settle for cookie-cutter methods if there is an opportunity to develop a better solution.

Competent accountants will have the skill to implement unconventional yet effective approaches to problems that demand more than the textbook approach. The ability to intuitively formulate an out-of-the-box strategy to deal with unique situations must first be developed with experience. Still, before that, an accountant must at least be willing to practice and strengthen their innovative capabilities.

 

Reliability and Trustworthiness

The intimate details that clients share with their accountants must never be leaked to third parties, neither intentionally nor accidentally. The client must be able to have well-placed trust in their accountant’s ability and willingness to keep vital information confidential at all times; this is both a matter of professionalism and basic ethics. The impression that an accountant leaves on their client will likely colour the impression that future clients have on them as well, which means that trustworthiness is essential for both the client’s safety and the accountant’s career.

 

Strong Organisational Skills

Strong organisational skills will always characterise the best accountants. Every single bit of data and paperwork must be accounted for at all times, no matter how minor it may seem. Poor organisational skills will be the Achilles’ heel of even the most naturally brilliant and well-intentioned accountants in the field. Being well-organised ensures that accounts are always capable of quickly accessing any material they need, which optimises productivity and frees up more time for the most important tasks at hand.

 

Vigilance

The state of the economy and nuances of tax law is subject to change at any time, so it is essential for an accountant always to be aware of the latest amendments. The fact that the field is constantly in flux is one of the primary reasons why an accountant’s expertise is necessary in the first place.

Even if the accountant is fully confident in their awareness of all of the fine details, they must always keep current with the field in order to ensure that their knowledge is still relevant and applicable. What might have been an airtight strategy months ago may no longer be viable in the current time, and a high-quality accountant must always be able to react to this scenario before it becomes an immediate problem.

The most important characteristics of an accountant are what will drive them to go above and beyond the call of duty. Innovativeness, reliability and organisational skills are what separate bare-minimum accountants from true professionals.

The exceptional accountant must possess two vital characteristics above all else: a genuine passion for their field that compels them to keep up to date with the latest news constantly, and a strong focus on providing each client with even better service than they expect. For the best in the industry, over-delivery is standard policy in accountancy.

Payroll

 

They can explain complicated concepts in simple ways

If you’ve ever written a paper about a Bronte novel, boiling down a complex piece of literature into a simple and clear argument, you may have what it takes to be an accountant. Accountants must be able to briefly summarise and communicate complex ideas in simple, easy-to-understand language.

 

They like working in teams.

If you enjoyed group projects, have ever been a member of a sports team or have done volunteer work, you know how fun it is to achieve a goal with a group. Accounting is a team sport.

 

They keep looking until they find the answer.

Sometimes the first place you look doesn’t have the answer. If you’ve spent hours in the library or on the Internet tracking down facts and data for research papers, you’d probably be a good accountant.

 

They like learning about new people, places and things.

When you arrive in a new place, is your first instinct to explore? Life as an accountant means you’re always learning about something new — whether it’s the ins and outs of a new client in the international fashion industry or a new city you’ve just relocated to.

 

They like meeting new people.

Accountants work with many people — coworkers, clients, corporate managers, entrepreneurs and others. Accountants get to know many people over their careers.

 

They’re good at planning.

Are you the one who charted out the whole semester on the first day of class? The one who planned the spring break trip? You might be an accountant. Accountants need to be able to plan out their work and develop strategies to help clients accomplish their goals.

 

They like figuring out tough calls.

Have you spent a little too much time watching SportsCenter highlights of controversial calls — or replaying them in your mind? Are you the tiebreaker when your friends can’t agree on a dinner destination or spring break trip? Accountants often act as referees, helping companies figure out the best way — and the right way — to account for an unusual transaction, for example.

Growth Maximiser

 

They’re organised.

If you’re the person, others call on when they need help cleaning up and getting organised, and you may have been channelling your inner accountant all along.

 

They’re good at helping other people learn.

Have you ever tutored a friend in a tough class? Accountants help others learn things — what records to hang on to for tax time, how to record tricky international financial transactions and more.

Being a great accountant requires a lot of effort, but also key personality traits that make up for a level-headed, creative, and detail-oriented individual – the highly successful accountant every company wants to hire.

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