While it’s easy to consider accountants as people who make a living by managing numbers, mathematical aptitude isn’t the only characteristic that makes someone a good accountant. In addition to the enjoyment of math and numbers, good accountants have also mastered a variety of essential characteristics during college or during training to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
According to details shared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors work in many environments in the private and government sectors, and one of their main goals is to ensure efficiency of a business or organization’s financial operations. The diversity of the profession may interest many different types of people, but most good accountants will exhibit the same essential qualities.
Detail Oriented: Details are as Important as the Numbers
Mathematical aptitude will help an accountant deal with complex equations, but an accountant must also be willing to focus on the smallest details. Many respected professionals have the ability to look at the “big picture” and find solutions to complex problems, but it’s more important for an accountant to be able to examine the smallest details to ensure accuracy and precision.
Detail-oriented people make excellent accountants because of the snowball effect that can happen when a small mistake eventually turns into a huge problem. For example, if an accountant makes a small mistake on the decimal place of a number or transposes just a single digit, the impact could mean every calculation after that mistake would be more inaccurate than the last.
Organized: Accountants Juggle Many Responsibilities
The overall goal of an accountant is to ensure an accurate result for activities like auditing, filling out tax forms, and preparing financial data for businesses. Along the way, an accountant must examine a variety of records that will enter into the final calculations. An accountant must be able to maintain excellent organization without forgetting any of the small details along the way.
Highly organized accountants aren’t simply good with filing and keeping papers in the right order. Good accountants remember many details at the same time, particularly for accounting specializations like forensic accounting where work must often proceed in reverse in order to locate the point at which a mistake was made in the past.
Honesty: Great Accountants are Dedicated to the Truth
Not only will good accountants possess excellent organization skills, but they will also remain honest in their work. Integrity with numeric results is as important as the accuracy required to calculate things like taxes, balance sheets, and different types of accounting ledgers. Good accountants rely on integrity and honesty of the numbers they use each day.
In fact, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), an organization operating out of the United Kingdom, dedicates a substantial portion of its code of ethics to integrity and honesty. For example, professional accountants must refrain from making false statements, omitting information in an attempt to mislead, and using information in a reckless manner.
The profession of accounting features a variety of specializations like forensic accounting, management accounting, and tax accounting. Each specialization requires the same overall characteristics including being detail oriented and organized, as well as being dedicated to honesty and integrity. These characteristics may be part of an accountant’s natural personality, or they may be cultivated by hardworking students so that they may eventually become a good accountant.
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