Accountancy has generally been perceived as an industry focused on figures and facts. However, with the advent of technology, it is becoming more about communication and people skills than solving problems on a calculator. The role of the accountant is not only keeping the books, but advising and addressing issues as they arise for their clients.
This has led to a change in recruitment tactics. No longer purely looking for the excellent mathematician, recruiters and line managers are now looking for individuals who also have great communication skills and an ability to identify strategic business advantages.
The new accountant
Technology has been advancing rapidly in recent years, to the extent that job roles in accounting have almost irrevocably changed.
Technology has taken over many of the time-consuming tasks that can now be automated, freeing accountants from paperwork whilst leaving room to advance the service offered.
The accountant of today is out in the field, visiting clients and finding ways to save them money and solving issues. They’re more than making the sums add up. They’re the guide in a new deal, the person who saves you thousands on stationary, or that individual who streamlines your processes.
But all of this means that there has been a shift of focus, not only to become more conversationalists but to analysing data and getting acquainted with technology.
It’s all very well having the people skills to charm clients, but you need the data to back up your claims. Accountants use data analytics to help companies identify process improvements that can increase efficiency, uncover valuable insights within their financials and manage risks.
These are very important tasks. Data is the backbone to understanding what is currently happening, fixing any problems and predicting what will happen in the future. So, an accountant now needs to have the knowledge and skills to excel in data.
What skills are required?
Whilst many accountants already have these technical, analytical and people skills, it does mean that there has been a shift in what hiring managers and recruiters are looking for in their new starters as well as what is required of existing members of staff.
Accountants now need to have outstanding technical skills to understand the data provided by analytical tools and understand how to use some of the new technologies – such as the Cloud and automated processes.
As born problem-solvers, accountants should be well acquainted with using the information they have to find solutions for their clients. But the shift is now towards predictive and prescriptive actions to use that information to make key business decisions. The new accountant must be inquisitive and proactive in their relationship management.
They also must be able to see the wider context and business implications. With their skills in analysing and utilising data, it’s important to contextualise the problem which is being solved and how this will impact the business. This will help make more informed and lucrative decisions.
So, how can these skills be acquired?
With all of these new skills being required of accountants, it’s important to consider the best route to train and upskill members of staff and new starters so that they can excel in the changing world of accountancy.
One method by which you can do this is through accounting apprenticeships. Arch Apprentices are a pioneering apprenticeship training provider offering programmes in Accounting, HR and digital. We offer accounting apprenticeships at level 3, 4 and 7, so we can train any individual from entry level to senior.
Programmes are mapped to real skills required by the finance function and include a digital element through online classes and interactive learning resources, curtesy of our sister business AVADO Learning. This enables a greater understanding of technology, data and the impacts to business.
Ben Rowland, Co-Founder of Arch Apprentices comments, “This is a fantastic opportunity for any accountancy firm or team to future-proof their function. Gaining these skills is integral to staying ahead of the curve and in-tune with the latest in the accounting world, putting you at the forefront of your industry.
“It’s also the perfect opportunity for companies to transfer the cost of professional training to their apprenticeship levy funds. Every accountancy professional wants to be AAT, ACCA, ICAEW qualified and this is the best way to do it.”