What Types of Skills are Required of Successful Accountants?

As new businesses emerge on the world market and others expand their reach, the need for talented accountants grows as well. Accounting is the systematic practice of tracking an organization’s financial transactions. The role of accounting has become increasingly important as governments enact tighter financial regulations that apply to domestic and international trade. Accounting professionals assist public and private organizations to fulfill their regulatory obligations, manage their available funds and execute strategic plans that maximize shareholder value. Here are some of the necessary skills and traits of successful accountants.

Interpersonal and Communications Skills

Most people give accountants credit for their tangible arithmetic skills while some of their most useful abilities go virtually unnoticed until projects go awry. Some of these unsung virtues include the ability to collaborate with other team members and contribute to mission objectives effectively. These tasks are generally accomplished through excellent verbal and written communication. After accountants conduct their analytical tasks, they often have to present their reports in a fashion that is easily understood by a range of stakeholders. Many times successful accountants must have a certain level of intuition and empathy to present accounting concepts and their reporting results in meaningful ways. They are also privy to information that potentially provides an early warning to decision makers, and they must know how to concisely and accurately make their information known.

Analytical and Detail Orientation

One of the most widely recognized skill of an accountant is their acute attention to detail. Accountants often review copious amounts of informational reports as well as raw data to complete their own organized reports. Even though the advent of the digital age has helped them somewhat, their work still requires painstaking attention to detail to detect and analyze accounting discrepancies or just correct data entry errors within their accounting systems. In the end, accounting professionals must translate financial data from various sources into usable information for decision makers.

Computer Competency

Computers, databases and their networks have certainly improved the administrative efficiency of accountants. Today’s accounting professionals have many computer based tools available to them and tech aware accountants know how to use those instruments to organize data and information that enables greater fiscal transparency throughout their organizations. Computer competency in accounting goes hand in hand with great communication skills in this case because accounting software tools are widely used for collaboration efforts as well as day to day operational tasks.

Mathematical Savvy

Great mathematical skills are at the heart of the accounting profession. Successful accountants prefer to solve problems via quantitative analysis. They also are familiar enough with general business concepts that they know what data is necessary for analysis versus data that is irrelevant for their organization’s purposes. The results of their number crunching is used by senior leadership to support higher level qualitative decision-making.


The field of accounting has expanded beyond mere number crunching as auditors and forensic accountants find themselves at the center of investigative accounting projects and even as expert witnesses at court. While most of these accountants acquire a host of knowledge and abilities over the years, the skills described above reflect the common ones that are used by those with a degree in accounting on a daily basis.