5 Unique Characteristics of an Accountant

Accountant Characteristics

  • Attention to Detail
  • Vigilance
  • Organizational Skills
  • Trustworthiness
  • Confidentiality

Every professional in their field has to be smart and able to perform their job efficiently. There are certain characteristics that will lend themselves directly to a certain type of job. For example, a surgeon has to have good, steady hands and be extremely confident to perform surgery on a patient. When it comes to accounting, accountants have to have unique characteristics that lend themselves to the field.

1. Attention to Detail

One of the biggest traits that an accountant must have is attention to detail. They are working with numbers throughout the day. Someone who doesn’t deal with numbers all day might give in to the urge to skim without analyzing what the numbers mean. The accountant must never skim, and always has to be alert to mistakes and transposed numbers. This could lead to serious problems when accountants are dealing with a client’s finances. The accountant has to be firmly in the moment and paying attention to the smallest of details. This trait allows them to see errors quickly and identify problems with the numbers or formulas used in their daily work.

2. Vigilance

The tax laws can change at any time. Those changes can be small or large, but the accountant has to be aware of them as well as the impact those changes might have on the clients. Along with laws and amendments, the accountant has to be aware of changes coming in the future too. This vigilance will keep them knowledgeable and able to create a plan for clients and forecast problems that might develop in the client’s business. If there are rumblings of a change to the law, the accountant might have to look at strategies that were planned months prior to a potential change.

3. Organizational Skills

This is one of the traits that accountants have. Without strong organizational skills, the accountant would have a problem keeping clients. Every piece of paperwork, computer spreadsheet and bit of data has to be accounted for at every moment. The details are attached to the client’s money. If the accountant isn’t organized, the data will be a mess, which can cost the client in his or her business as well as with the IRS. Accounts should be easy to access with all current data in its proper place.

4. Trustworthiness

Accountants who can’t be trusted will soon find themselves without any clients. While an industry like car sales might have people who aren’t trustworthy still in business, that’s not true of accountants. Clients choose their accountant with an eye towards someone that can be trusted with their business. They will check for references and red flags among other customers to find an accountant that can be trusted. An accountant has a huge responsibility to his or her clients and their business.

5. Confidentiality

Customers and clients do not want an accountant who will talk about the details of their business with others. While an accountant might need advice from others in the industry if there’s a problem or a change in laws, that accountant should not be sharing details about the customer’s business. The client expects a level of trust with their accountant. It’s much like the relationship between lawyer and client. The client expects discretion and privacy.

Related Resource: Top 10 Online Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs

All of these traits and characteristics of an accountant are ones that clients want in their own accountant. If the professional doesn’t have these skills and traits, they could be out of business very quickly especially if accountants work for themselves. While it’s a top-paying job according to CNN Money, it’s one that comes with a huge amount of responsibility.