Employers are no longer looking for the number crunchers of a decade ago, comments David Callaghan, director of Reed Accountancy Personnel.
Technological advances now mean that we have systems in place that perform some of those tasks traditionally performed by accountants. Business now demands much more from their accountants and are looking for complete business people.
Reed Accountancy Personnel asked over 300 employers to rank the core requirements they asked of accountants in order of importance. The top five were teamwork, followed by computer ability, and then numeracy, communication skills and commercial acumen.
The role and functions performed by accountants is changing into the new millennium. Accountants are expected to undertake less financial accounts, corporate finance and treasury functions than was the case five years ago.
An increasing emphasis is now placed upon management information, briefing senior management and one-off project work. In essence, accountants must be more commercially aware and demonstrate these skills on their CV and at interview.
Accountants also now enjoy greater scope to move into different business areas. Of those organisations questioned, 13% commented that accountants had moved from the financial department into general management in the past year, and 11% that accountants had moved into IT management.
The findings also revealed that accountants regularly move into the fields of management consultancy and sales management.
An accountancy qualification is increasingly seen as an excellent all-round business qualification, with a greater emphasis placed on the ability to present information to non-financial managers and to give advice on how to run an organisation more profitably. Future advances in technology will no doubt continue to change the role of accountants and finance departments.
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