When interviewing accounting professionals, you get an idea about their communication skills. If a suitably qualified professional is found to be a good communicator, you may believe that you have found the right person for the job. However, effective communication is just a subset of the soft but critical skills required of an accounting manager who handles sensitive company data.
Here are five critical skills we look for when hiring a finance/accounting manager:
A strong sense of ethics
Accounting isn’t just about crunching numbers and producing reports. It is not limited to proficiency with accounting software and demonstrating analytical abilities. Ethics are critical as well. An exceedingly savvy accounting manager may initiate dishonest accounting practices that affect your company’s reputation. For example, he may abuse his position of trust and in collusion with others inflate profits for a number of years, forcing your company to overcome serious ethical and financial burdens.
Accounting professionals are required to abide by the ethical standards set out by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and professional accounting and financial organizations. They must not only uphold ethical accounting practices but also model those behaviors and espouse values that inspire everyone on the team.
Project teams comprise individuals from different departments and across hierarchical levels. In this context, accounting managers may have a moderating role involving budget, a mediating role wherein they do their bit to manage budget conflicts between competing departments or a leadership role where they provide inputs and aid decision-making by assessing across all company functions/departments.
Regardless of the role they play, accounting managers have to work with all internal departments on a daily basis. This requires them to not only have a good understanding of the organizational workflow and outcomes of every department, but also effectively relate to and communicate with other department managers.
Meeting deadlines, delegating responsibilities, handling any unpredictable situation arising in cross-functional projects and ensuring a work-life balance is possible only through proactive time management. Accounting managers can use their time productively and meet both professional and personal priorities by maintaining a calendar to organize their time, establishing strict work hours, leveraging project management applications and setting aside time for family and friends. And when these managers need to hire new team members, efficient recruitment solutions can provide critical time management, as well as savings.
The ebbs and flows of business, regulatory changes and evolving standards in the accounting industry demand an adaptable mindset. Accounting managers should stay up-to-date with industry requirements to ensure compliance, deliver consistently good services to clients and handle various personality types in cross-functional leadership and collaboration tasks. It helps to stay on the pulse of changing industry requirements as well as observe how peers and competitor companies are responding and adapting.
Collaborating with department managers and overseeing direct reports and lower-level staff calls for good communication skills, the ability to present views logically and persuading people to change their behaviors, improve their performance, make adjustments and agree to solutions that benefit the organization.
When faced with conflict, handling negotiations, engaging clients or third-party providers, persuasion is a handy tool. Accounting managers should add ‘the ability to persuade and negotiate’ to their skills arsenal so they can more easily build relationships with clients and team members based on trust and mutual respect.