Professional Development

Top Three Skills CPAs Need to Succeed in 2019

What skills can you learn this year to help you become a better CPA?

CPAs and accountants often go by nicknames like number crunchers, accountaholics, and ledger lovers. However today, accounting professionals are expected to master skills in a variety of areas that may not be necessarily related to accounting.

According to a 2018 LinkedIn survey, 57% of employers stated soft skills are essential to them. The World Economic Forum identified that some of these soft skills include creativity, critical thinking, and service orientation.

The New Year brings with it an opportunity for professionals to re-evaluate their career graph, make changes in how they approach their work, get a certification, and more. CPAs and outsourced accountants are no different.

Keeping that thought in mind, here are three skills that accounting professionals need to acquire or hone in order to succeed in 2019.

1) Tech-savviness

Technology has transformed the accounting industry. From cloud-based systems and specialized accounting software, to mobile accounting and smart contracts, CPAs and accountants have come a long way since their pen, calculator and ledger days.

Naturally, CPA firms are looking to hire professionals that not only possess technical skills but are also comfortable with, and enthusiastic about technology. Even outsourced accountants need to keep upgrading their tech knowledge.

Therefore, it is necessary to skill up and be willing to work on different solutions regularly.

How you can improve: Make connections with tech experts like the IT guys in your office. They can help you understand technology better and adapt faster. Also, look up certifications on Udemy and EdX.

2) Emotional Intelligence

Although the soft skill can’t be developed overnight, accounting professionals should approach complex situations with empathy and be more conscious of their strengths and weaknesses to advance in their careers.

Being able to help others in their job can help accounting professionals succeed in theirs. Outsourced accountants, for instance, can benefit by being more empathetic since they are a part of a CPA firm that is struggling with pain-points like staff crunch, poor time management, and lack of business growth.

How you can improve: Listen more and listen actively to gauge the intensity of a problem. Also, don’t just wait for your turn to speak.

3) Flexibility

In an age and time when everything changes so rapidly, it is detrimental for professionals across industries to be rigid in the way they work. The same goes for accountants, and that also includes outsourced accountants.

To provide a better service to clients, the accounting professionals must be flexible in their way of working and meeting deadlines. The change could be related to new software, new tax policy, or a shift in the top management of the organization.

This, however, does not mean that the accounting professionals become so flexible that they forget what their end goal is.

How you can improve: Always keep an eye on the industry trends or developments within your firm. Try to prepare yourself as much as you can for the changes that are about to roll out. Hold a few meetings with your team and apprise them of what’s to come and develop a process that helps you make the transition faster.

Wrapping up

The accounting professionals need more than just qualifications or certifications to do a better job and to taste success. Expanding the soft skill set can open up more opportunities for them and challenge them to rise above their potential. The same is true for outsourced accountants given the nature of their work.

So, which skill are you learning this year?

Laurence is a manager at QX Accounting Services & Founder of Accounting Leaders. QX Accounting offers outsourced accounting services, tax return preparation, bookkeeping and payroll compliance for small to medium sized accounting firms. Laurence focuses on freeing up small practitioners in order to get them to focus on growing their practice.

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