7 essential soft skills for accountants

5 min read
highlighting soft skills for accountants in a board meeting

Accounting is a world of numbers. The technical expertise required to deal with codes, regulations, and professional standards often overshadows the essential soft skills for accountants to really excel in their careers. 

Soft skills are the traits and abilities people have that support how they work and interact with others. As the accounting profession becomes less about knowing how to book a journal entry, prepare a tax return, or audit numbers on a trial balance, skills like navigating interpersonal relationships and managing work effectively have become just as crucial as technical skills.

7 accounting soft skills to help you succeed

 Here's a look at seven accounting soft skills that can enhance your career, no matter your niche or experience level. 

Communication: The heart of client relationships 

Accountants are the bridge between complex financial data and stakeholders who need that information presented clearly and concisely. Effective communication skills allow accountants to explain financial concepts to non-experts without jargon, ensuring that clients, shareholders, and colleagues can make informed decisions. 

Whether you’re presenting the results of internal control testing or drafting an email explaining a tax planning strategy, developing verbal and written communication skills will help you earn the trust of others and get them to buy into your advice and ideas. 

Writing skills: More than just numbers 

Writing skills are a subset of communication but deserve their own spotlight. Accountants must be able to craft clear, error-free, and persuasive written communication. Whether you’re writing a compelling executive summary, a detailed analysis or just sending a brief email to a client, the ability to convey complex information in writing is indispensable. 

Time management: The art of meeting deadlines 

Accounting is a deadline-driven profession. Time management skills help accountants juggle various tasks, from audit preparation to tax filings, without dropping the ball. 

Mastering time management skills means prioritizing tasks, working efficiently, and delivering results on time, which is essential for career success.

Listening: Understanding beyond words 

Active listening is crucial for accountants. It involves fully concentrating on the speaker, understanding their message, responding appropriately, and remembering the discussion. Listening is essential for accountants and advisors to understand their clients' goals and challenges. In some cases, clients might not fully recognize the issues themselves, so their accountant must listen closely, read between the lines, and ask questions that get to the heart of the matter. This skill is vital during client meetings and team collaborations, as it ensures that decisions are based on a thorough understanding of the situation. 

Collaboration: Teamwork makes the dream work 

The stereotypical image of an accountant might be someone alone in their office, pouring over financial documents or reconciliations. However, modern accountants rarely work in isolation. Whether you’re working with an audit team, collaborating with other departments on annual budgets, or partnering with clients to improve cash flow, working well with others is key. Collaboration involves a combination of communication, conflict resolution, active listening, and empathy. 

Emotional intelligence: The key to rewarding professional relationships 

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as understand and influence the emotions of others. According to Travis Bradberry, co-author of the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, EQ is made up of four core skills: 

  1. Self-awareness – the ability to accurately perceive your emotions and be aware of them as they happen 
  2. Self-management – the ability to use awareness of your emotions to positively direct your behavior 
  3. Social awareness – the ability to “read the room,” pick up on emotions in other people and understand what’s really going on 
  4. Relationship management – the ability to use awareness of your emotions and others’ emotions to manage interactions successfully

For accountants, high emotional intelligence can lead to better client relationships and a more harmonious workplace. You've got something special when you have both accurate financial data and high EQ. 

Project management: Leading with vision and efficiency 

Accountants often lead projects such as audits, accounting software implementations, or process improvements. Often, these projects must be broken down into manageable tasks and delegated to other team members. Project management skills help you plan, execute, and complete projects effectively, ensuring you meet project goals and use resources efficiently. 

CPE courses develop soft skills for accountants 

While technical skills might have gotten you to this point in your career, developing your communication, time management, and other interpersonal skills will open up paths to leadership and excellence. If you need help developing these or other accounting soft skills, explore the wide variety of continued professional education courses available in Becker’s extensive CPE course catalog. 

Get a FREE CPE course on us 

Becker makes it easy to get the professional development you need and enhance skills that can boost your career. Choose one of our free CPE courses and see why we're a leading provider of continued professional education! 


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