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The million dollar question: How can you become a successful accountant in Australia in 2020?

What are the abilities, skills and characteristics that will take you from crunching numbers behind a desk in a small office to being a financial business partner of an ASX listed company?

There’s no doubt, even some of the most successful personalities in our profession started from the bottom. It is rare to land a first accounting job as the head of finance of a multinational enterprise. Most of us started from an accounting internship or a mentor program.

While reading this article you might be thinking: “every experience will help me improve” or “I just need to get that one more certification or award”.

Let me ask you something: does every football player become a champion by experience? Does every businessman become a millionaire simply by getting a degree?

Hard work, studying and dedication are important qualities, but there are skillsets that are beyond those abilities. That is why it is crucial to find the right guidance and mentorship when starting your accounting career.

Every good accountant should be able to crunch numbers, use excel sheets, and report on data. But not every good accountant will claim the top spots in this industry. Only the GREAT ones will.

In the same way, almost every accounting internship or mentor program can teach you how to use the right software. However, only a few of them can make you a great accountant.

Let’s get to the meat of the article: what are those top skills that will allow you to climb the accounting world career ladder?

To answer this question, we decided to run a practical experiment.

We went on and compiled a list of top tier accounting jobs offers in Australia.

We then compared them against each other and, using our powerful resources (or maybe just a willing couple of team members), we highlighted the common and most frequently mentioned requirements, skills and qualities which were listed.

Here is what we found.

Data Analysis and Critical Thinking

Every accountant can pull data together and analyse it. Only great accountants can look at the data and judge if it’s reasonable, recommend the best course of action.

Instead of focusing on learning all the systems available to perform in an accounting job, invest in developing your own critical thinking, your ability to draw data-driven conclusions that make sense for the client.

Those accountants that learn and focus on the right mentors, develop the ability to think through problems, and plan future financial strategies become invaluable assets to a company.

Commercial awareness and curiosity

In a nutshell, commercial awareness is the knowledge of the industry or business you are working in. It can be the knowledge of your client’s business, of the enterprise you are applying, or the industry you are targeting.

Having commercial curiosity allows you to build your awareness and helps you become a leader in your field. Knowing the business will put you in a position of strength and help you gain the trust of your clients, stakeholders or employers.

Even in this case, having the opportunity to start your accounting career with a mentor program will let you gain first-hand experience with different kinds of businesses and develop this key skill.

Communication and written literacy

Most might think that an accounting job is all about numbers. What everyone seems to overlook is those relying on an accountant to handle the finance of their business don’t necessarily speak “math-English”.

Highly successful accountants devote an increasing amount of time to writing and developing their communication skills. These skills are helpful when liaising with clients or stakeholders or corresponding with non-accounting professionals, especially when attempting to explain complicated concepts. The ability to communicate efficiently and seamlessly not only will make your life easier but will gain you the trust of your clients or business partners.

Organisation and time management

Even the brightest accountant can fail without proper organisational skills. Every bit of data must be accounted for at all times. Being well-organised ensures that accountants are always capable of quickly accessing any material they need, which optimises productivity and frees up more time for the most important tasks at hand.

Being organised and managing your day and schedule will leave more time to spend with your clients or stakeholders. In addition, you’ll be have time to prepare if faced with a crisis or complex situation. What is worse than you having to spend half a day looking for a document when a crisis is shaking up the whole management ladder?

Team and project management

The expectations that an accountant has to meet are diverse. Together with the usual tasks, you’ll often find yourself covering advisory jobs and participating in the implementation of projects aiming to improve the performance of different areas of the business.

This is why being able to work within a team and possessing project management skills are becoming more and more important. These skills will not only help you manage a project’s risk and make sure it stays within scope but when things do go off track you will be able to get support from team members where needed.

Excelling in an important project of the business and being able to work with the team involved will enable you to stand out to your key stakeholders and managers.

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What can you do to acquire the skills that you need to land a high paid accounting job in Australia?

The are many roads you can take to improve your abilities and become the best accountant you can be.

The best way to gain those skills is to find a good accountant mentoring program and learn from those in the industry that already have developed the skillset you are aiming for.

At Quinlan Consulting we offer a reputable and highly effective mentoring program aimed at helping accounting professionals and graduates. We get you with the practical experience that you need and combine it with networking opportunities, job-seeking support and mentorship by highly experienced accountants.

Ready to kick-start your accounting career in Australia?

Chat with us today or get in touch with our team!