A recent survey in the UK published in the report “Skills for future success” has found that the globalisation of business operations and rapid advances in technology are some of the key drivers in a current and future skills shortage in finance-related roles. Employers find it increasingly difficult to attract the right talent and skills sets to achieve long-term business success.
Evolution in technology is paving the way for new and improved accounting tools, shifting the way business operates and implementing new business models to stay competitive. One of the biggest influences on the demand for skills is automation. The use of automation is causing significantly less reliance on administrative and repetitive roles but is increasing the demand for expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics. As a result, new positions will be created, and many existing roles will be transformed, with some roles phased out altogether.
COVID-19 has accelerated the reliance on digitisation in businesses. With remote working becoming standard practice and digitalisation has created unique opportunities in new ways of providing customer services.
Employers will need to incorporate a plan to address the skills shortage as part of their business strategy. They need to upskill their existing staff to overcome the skills gap and allow for adaptability. They also need to prepare employees for roles that don’t exist yet.
This has significantly impacted the skills required of accountants to be competitive in the industry to meet the changing demands of their jobs. It is not just critical to have these skills now but also to be developing new skills in the future.
We put together a list of the most in-demand accounting skills essential to remain successful in the future.
An accountant needs to be organised to manage the inherent strict deadlines in the accounting cycle. Accountants need to produce information promptly and manage conflicting priorities with multiple clients or projects. They also need to be organised to ensure that record-keeping is up to date and provides a clear audit trail.
A greater reliance on technology and automation has shifted focus away from the routine manual aspects of accounting and more towards the value-added skill of using critical thinking to solve problems and deliver efficiencies.
Accountants will often face discrepancies in data and need the ability to find solutions for the issues they encounter and predict the problems before they occur. They need to understand the reason the problem occurred and plan for it in the future. It requires a constant mindset of questioning why things are done the way they are and whether something can be done better.
Accountants need to communicate their insights with a broad range of clients, colleagues or customers. Some may be experts in the financial field, but others may have basic financial knowledge. It is crucial that accountants can transform complex financial information in a way that is easy to understand. Accountants also need to be able to listen to stakeholders and respond appropriately to their needs.
As technology is fast impacting how accountants perform their jobs, accountants need to be adaptable to learn and embrace technological advances. They need to be tech-savvy to maximise the potential of these advances in technology and provide the best value-added outcomes.
An accountant should have extensive knowledge about their particular field of expertise. They should have excellent knowledge in areas such as the Australian Accounting Standards, Australian taxation law and financial statements while keeping informed of the continuing changes impacting the accounting industry.