Accounting Today recently asked over a hundred leaders in the tax and accounting profession to share what one thing they’d tell a new accountant who was just starting their career — here’s a sampling of our favorites, from the practical to the profound.
‘Learn to think an entrepreneur.’
“Here’s what they won’t tell you in college, or even in your first job: You’re an entrepreneur. Learn to think an entrepreneur. Learn to act like it. … Bottom line: Every accountant is in business for themselves, responsible for their own skills, growth, integrity, reputation, brand, and service to clients and the public. The most important skill you can learn beyond the basics for licensure are how to get new clients, and to amaze and delight them.”
Build your people skills
“Focus on your client relationship/management skill sets. The technology and freelancers will be handling the compliance work. To truly be different and add value from a client’s point of view, you must be good at the stuff that is relationship-based. Not just technical compliance-based. The ability to advise, show empathy and relate to clients on a human-level are going to be the key skills we need to develop in our people.”
Develop your critical-thinking skills
“Technical skills will continue to be critical. But just as critical to new accountants’ careers are critical-thinking skills which will help them be anticipatory to environmental changes and the evolving needs of businesses. I believe the most successful accountants will not only be able to analyze key business drivers such as financial and operational data, regulatory requirements, technology changes and risks, but also able to compile these individual elements into a strategic approach that helps their clients or companies evolve.”