Although soft skills, such as communication and time management, are essential, hard skills are equally important for all accounting professionals.
Hard skills are specific technical skills necessary to perform a particular job or task. People typically learn them through formal education or on-the-job training or the actual workplace.
If you’re looking for additional staff and outsourcing accounting jobs, you need to know that hard skills are essential because they enable your personnel to carry out their duties effectively and efficiently and help you in your business.
Also, if you’re an accounting professional, you need to possess and hone the relevant hard skills to stay competitive in your job and stand out from the competition when you’re ready to climb the career ladder.
This article aims to explore some of these hard skills and discuss their importance in the accounting profession.
Essential Hard Skills Accounting Professionals Should Have
Below are the eight vital hard skills every accounting professional must possess and constantly update:
1. Proficiency in Accounting Software
In the digital age, all accountants must be proficient in different accounting software.
These tools are used to automate bookkeeping, streamline data entry and generate financial reports, allowing employees and organizations to do all accounting-related tasks faster and more efficiently.
Quick access to accurate financial reports can also help upper management make data-based, smarter decisions for their companies.
Some accounting software professionals should be proficient in include QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Xero and Sage.
Accountants familiar with these tools can increase their and their company’s efficiency and stand out in the job market.
2. Financial Analysis
One of the primary roles of accountants is to analyze financial information to help businesses make informed decisions.
Therefore, accounting professionals should be proficient in financial analysis to understand the financial health of a company and identify areas for improvement.
Accountants with strong financial analysis skills can help their companies make strategic decisions, since they can identify trends and potential risks. Additionally, they can recommend ways to reduce costs and optimize budgetary performance.
This specific skill requires a strong knowledge of accounting principles, financial statements, and analytical tools.
3. Budgeting and Forecasting
Accounting professionals should be proficient in budgeting and forecasting to help their companies plan and manage their financial resources effectively.
They should be able to develop accurate budgets and financial forecasts based on historical data and market trends.
They need to combine both skills to review the current or last year’s finances and plan for the next one’s financial needs.
Accounting professionals with budgeting and forecasting skills can help their organizations avoid financial shortfalls and make informed decisions about investments and expenditures.
They can also provide insights into cost-saving opportunities and revenue-generating strategies.
4. Audit and Assurance
Accounting professionals with audit and assurance skills can help their companies ensure their financial statements are accurate.
These skills can help organizations avoid financial misstatements, which can lead to legal and reputational issues.
Accountants proficient in audit and assurance can make sure all internal processes and controls comply with industry standards. They can recommend ways to improve them as well.
Accounting professionals should be proficient in internal, external, financial, compliance, and operational audits. They must also be knowledgeable in different auditing techniques, risk assessment and internal control evaluation.
5. Tax Accounting
Tax accounting pertains to methods used in preparing public financial statements that show a company’s tax assets and liabilities. It takes into account the organization’s revenue, deductions and government credits to determine their taxable income.
Accountants should be proficient in tax accounting methods, laws, and regulations to help their companies remain compliant and minimize tax liabilities.
Because of this hard skill, they can help their organizations save money by identifying tax breaks and credits.
Companies can also avoid penalties and legal issues by ensuring that the company’s tax returns are filed correctly and on time.
6. Financial Reporting
Accountants should be skilled in financial reporting to help companies communicate their financial performance to stakeholders and other key or involved parties.
They should be able to prepare easy-to-understand and accurate financial statements, such as balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements, on time.
Accountants with financial reporting skills can help companies build trust with stakeholders and other key parties, such as investors, by providing accurate and transparent financial information.
They can also provide insights into the organization’s financial performance and identify areas for improvement.
7. Statistical Analysis
Accounting professionals are responsible for more than just calculating numbers. They have to be capable of analyzing data and extracting meaningful insights from these figures.
Therefore, accountants should have a strong foundation in statistical analysis, which includes the ability to identify patterns and relationships between data points.
Accounting professionals with excellent statistical analysis skills can help their organizations make more informed decisions based on data-driven insights. They can identify trends, anticipate future performance, and recommend strategies to improve financial outcomes.
This skill will come in handy when accountants analyze financial statements, assess risks, and evaluate investment opportunities.
8. Payroll Processing
Processing payroll is a crucial function for any business; accountants are the unsung heroes who make this possible.
Accounting professionals are responsible for ensuring all employees are paid accurately and on time. They help their organization remain in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations as well.
They also manage or help with direct deposits and computing staff bonuses, taxes, social security contributions and more.
All these require a keen eye for detail and excellent organizational and time management skills.
Accountants should also be proficient in all payroll-related tasks and stay up to date on all the latest tax laws and labor regulations.
The Importance of Accounting Hard Skills for Businesses and Professionals
Accountants who possess the mentioned hard skills can provide companies with valuable insights into financial performance, identify areas for improvement and help their companies make informed decisions.
They can also build strong relationships with their colleagues, clients and business partners.
On a personal level, accounting professionals can increase their productivity and efficiency and enhance their professional reputation when they have the right hard skills.
If you’re hiring a new accounting specialist or team, look for these skills in your top candidates.
If you’re an accountant, focus on developing and refining these skills so you can achieve success in the dynamic and rapidly evolving world of finance and accounting.