As the world of work evolves, so do the skills required to perform new tasks. The competitive advantage of your business will only be maintained if your staff has the relevant skills to do their jobs effectively. For a new recruit applying the basics of accounting in their new job is essential. If they have been using one type of accounting software in their previous job, then they may need to learn a new version when they join your business or a newer version of the same software. Upskilling is a continuous process that leaders and managers need to be aware of to be effective.
The hard skills of accounting
Basic accounting, bookkeeping and payroll are just some of the hard skills an accountant needs to contribute value to a business. These hard skills are not rocket science but the basics need to be treated as an art by an organisation to maximise contribution to the business.
Blockchain is already being used by numerous institutions and will become significant and widely adopted very soon. Parts of accounting concerned with transactional assurance and carrying out the transfer of property rights will be transformed by blockchain and smart contract approaches. Many routine accounting processes can be optimised through blockchain and other modern technologies, such as data analytics or machine learning; this will increase the efficiency and value of the accounting function.
The spectrum of skills represented in accounting will change with developments in technology so some work such as reconciliations and provenance assurance will be reduced or eliminated, while other areas such as advisory and other value-adding activities will expand. Upskilling of key staff is required for your business to stay relevant.
Soft skills for accountants
It’s not all hard work for accountants these days. Soft skills are needed for the evolving role of accountants who can strategically contribute value to your business. Soft skills such as inter-personal skills, project management and so on are key for getting results beyond simply delivering data and sound bytes on the current financial position of your company.
With the advent of blockchain, accountants do not need to be engineers with detailed knowledge of how blockchain works but they will need to know how to advise on blockchain adoption and consider the impact of blockchain on your business and clients.
Accountants will also need to be able to act as a bridge, having informed conversations with both techies and business people.
Accountants’ skills will need to expand to include an understanding of the principle features and functions of blockchain. Blockchain already appears on the syllabus for ICAEW’s ACA qualification. Not everyone is willing or able to upskill to blockchain use quickly and effectively and so a process of mentoring may be useful to help with the transition to this new paradigm.
Combining hard skills and soft skills for accountants effectively depend on the company culture and also the power within the company. Some cultures, such as in Europe, show reluctance to move with the times whilst others such as China eat up every new innovation immediately.
How to upskill key staff in your organisation requires assessment, training and evaluation. Who to upskill, how and when requires judgement by leaders and managers to maximise the impact of new skills that are needed to achieve the strategic goals of your organisation.
With the world turning more and more digital by the day, accountants need to know how to use big data for understanding the big picture inside their organisation. How to relate this information to strategic planning and implement effectively requires people skills.
Learning about new software may become essential and for some start-up businesses in Malaysia starting with basic accounting software then adding on new software as the business expands requires training to get to grips with migrating and integrating different systems.
Investing in yourself is always a good way forward. Leaders and managers who really want to help their company move with the times will need to upskill themselves and their key staff as business needs develop. Training existing and new staff with the relevant skills to do their jobs effectively should pay back both with better business results and more engaged employees.