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Career Counselor
Analytical Skills Key for Future Accountants

Oct/Nov 2007 Considering the expectations that hiring managers will place on tomorrow's finance professionals, improving soft skills such as your analytical abilities will become mission critical. Not only will employers seek staff with technical expertise, but they will actively seek those who can decipher the results and make recommendations for the benefit of the organization.

Earlier this year, our company convened the Robert Half International Financial Leadership Council to address key issues facing the accounting and finance fields, including skills future practitioners will need. Composed of executives from business and private industry, public accounting, academia, and professional associations, the council met to discuss the challenges facing businesses and professionals today as well as solutions to address them.

One of the results of the meeting was an extensive report, "Charting the Future of the Accounting, Finance and Audit Professions." Among other topics, the report features the group's recommendations for companies seeking job candidates who not only possess technical skills but the problem-solving abilities necessary to understand the "why" behind the data.
According to the report, practitioners with the analytical skills and the professional judgment necessary to apply next-generation practices such as principled-based accounting standards, fair-value measurements, enhanced business reporting, and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) will be in high demand.

Here are a few tips that can help you approach your work with greater insight:

  • Play devil's advocate. Before making a judgment or recommendation on an issue, scrutinize what you may have done wrong to come to that conclusion. When you can construct an argument against your findings you are better able to understand and defend your stance. 
  • Work on both left- and right-brain skills. To be effective in an accounting or finance position, you'll need both technical and creative cognitive abilities. By participating in activities that feed both left- and right-brain skills, you will become more adept at finding innovative solutions to work-related problems. 
  • Strive for multiple solutions. When working in teams, encourage group members (and yourself) to offer more than one solution for a problem. You'll probably find that a variety of perspectives can help initiate a comprehensive solution.

By staying ahead of the curve you can make yourself an invaluable asset to your current organization. Those who can interpret relevant information can set their "thinking caps" on greater career aspirations.

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ACCOUNTEMPS is a specialized temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps provides support throughout an accounting department. Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., Accountemps and has more than 270 offices in North America, Europe and Australia. Accountemps' Career Counselor column, a SmartPros staple for over four years, is refreshed twice a month.

2007 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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