Two people high fiving in a office

March 23, 2021, by Jackie Thompson

How Accountancy is About People, Not Just Numbers

By: The Accountancy Partnership – Online Accountants

When people think about accounting, one of the first things that comes to mind is that it’s all about numbers. While accounting certainly features numbers, it goes way beyond calculators and cash.

Accountancy is about the people as much as it is about numbers. Tax, thresholds, percentages and reports may be a big part of it. But being a good accountant is about much more. 

If accounting is a career path you’re considering, these are the most important things to consider beyond number-crunching.

The importance of soft skills

In a lot of firms, accountants are expected to work very closely with their clients. Even more so if you take a job as an in-house accountant.

This means that soft skills such as clear communication, listening skills and approachability are all great tools to have at the ready. You’ll need to put clients at ease, provide friendly advice, solve problems and explain complex matters simply.

You may have clients who are very clued-up on tax and don’t need much help. You might also be juggling several brand-new start-ups who need a bit more guidance and advice. Knowing your client well and adapting to their needs will help you provide them with the best service possible.

If you’re applying for accountancy work in the future, demonstrating good communication skills will help you stand out from other candidates. Make sure you bring up all those presentations, reports and group discussions you did in university to highlight this. If you have any office or customer service experience, that’s all really valuable experience as well.

Understanding a client’s business and providing tailored advice

An accountant’s job is to ease the burden of filing tax, but it’s also to help the business achieve success in the long run. Your clients’ success keeps you in a job after all, whether working in a firm or in-house.

That’s why clients love it when an accountant takes an interest and understands their business. Positioning yourself as a business partner of sorts can help with client retention and satisfaction. It also makes the collaboration process much smoother if everyone’s on the same page.

In other words, if the client believes you’re fighting in their corner and want to see them succeed, they are more likely to trust you, ask for advice and also remain a client.

Going beyond numbers

The role of accountants has changed a lot over the past few years. With the industry moving  towards automation and software, accounting has become less about number-crunching.

Does that mean that the industry is dying? Definitely not. Accounting is about far more than just filling in forms and punching numbers into a calculator. It’s about building good working relationships, providing advice, using software and guiding clients.

You may find yourself explaining tax changes one minute, then providing advice on reducing expenses the next. Clients may come to you with accounting software problems to tackle or ask for advice on the latest cash flow report you created.

To prepare for a career in accountancy, you must look beyond numbers and look at the clients themselves as well. Accountancy is as much about keeping the clients happy as it is about staying on HMRC’s good side!

If you want to know more about this career area and hear from University of Nottingham alumni, take a look at our webpage on accountancy and finance.

Posted in Careers AdviceEmployer Insights