ACCA is one of the most globally recognized and established professional accounting careers in the world. This is because the ACCA course demands rigorous training and dedication on the part of its students. They are expected to work in challenging environments, which keep changing rapidly. So just clearing the exams is not enough to keep up with the ever-evolving accounting industry.
With the onset of the pandemic, accountants are navigating some unpredictable waters just like other industries. In order to stay at pace with the digital changes and transformation, we need to evolve and adapt to the times.
So what are the skills you need to make the cut in todays age and time? In this article we will deep into the 8 essential skills ACCA graduate need as we march into the new decade.
1. Global Mindset - As we discussed earlier, the pandemic has brought forth many boons and banes. Our world is more connected now than ever, this rapid change has made it easier for industries to set base anywhere in the world. Moving to international locations has a lot of financial benefits. As an ACCA you will be expected to know what is expected in the future. ACCA students should have a global outlook on situations that could imply that they need to learn the regulations of other operating countries or work alongside businesses or people from other nations. Apart from this, tax laws are very crucial for international businesses. ACCA students will need to look into cross-border tax implications, tax trends, and laws along with international tax treaties.
2. Technical Skills - The accounting world has seen a lot of transitions with technology and automation taking center stage. This will be one of the biggest challenges for accountants as well because digital technology will make the biggest impact across the accounting industry over the next decade. ACCA accountants will be working with more cloud-based systems than the generation before them. More companies are also switching to cloud and multi-cloud environments to make the hybrid work environment efficient. Software tools and systems will take over manual tasks such as bookkeeping and expense processing. The same software can automate the financial close process.
New-age accountants will be conducting fewer menial tasks such as data entry and will focus more on the kind of software that will be used. The primary folks who are going to be impacted by this are the auditors. Very soon they will see software and systems complete most of the manual work that auditors have been performing such as matching invoices and payments and checking and verifying the existence of transactions. Instead of this accountants, will rely on analysis. Another area that has seen a lot of growth is the cryptocurrency segment. It is predicted that society is moving towards an era where everything will be entirely cashless. With the rise of currencies like Bitcoin and other digital currencies, companies are now eliminating the need to manage cash altogether. Therefore ACCA students will now have to work with and get a good working knowledge of cryptocurrency in the future to stay competitive.
3. Communication Skills - Accounting professionals especially ACCA students will be expected to be great communicators once we get into the next decade as they are not just expected to be employees but will have to think from the angle of a business partner in order to make analytical business decisions that will affect the overall nature of the business. Nowadays there is greater harmony amongst businesses as those in the accounting departments work closely with other people both inside and outside of the department. Teamwork is no longer a good skill but a valuable component to ensure the success of any business model and communicating effectively with others in the team will be a key task. Accountants will be expected to possess a high level of emotional intelligence so that as they communicate with a diverse workforce they can convey their points effectively. Emotional intelligence requires one to manage their own thoughts and emotions while being conscious of other emotions as well.
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4. Professionalism and Professional Ethics - Ethics has been the pillar stone for any accounting professional whether they are a CA/ ACCA or anyone else. It is the role and duty of an accountant to always maintain the highest standards of integrity and practice professional skepticism. These days businesses are facing a lot of increase in regulatory and governance policed as customers are taking a keen interest in monitoring how the organizations conduct business. With the rise in digital media and social media becoming any man's tool, any error from the company can put poor business behavior in the spotlight, so it is a mandate for businesses to have ethics as a crucial part of their business model.
As a student of ACCA, you will be expected to hone and master professional ethics as a part of your working structure. It is imperative that you maintain professional independence and stick to guidelines and policies and procedures which have been set up by the organization you are a part of as well as the local accounting regulation agencies.
5. Analysis - You currently live in an era of great reporting tools and access to real-time data and the way businesses function. Which is exactly why the expectations from ACCA students will not be to just report numbers, instead they will be expected to analyze the data gathered and give an informed decision. The accounting industry will be playing a large role in the way businesses make decisions today and this trend seems to be on an upward graph. Businesses these days will expect their accountant to interpret the data they receive and analyze the numbers while providing strategic insights.
The leader of the business doesn’t just want to see numbers but they expect to see the trends and patterns and notice if there are any inconsistencies in both the financial and non-financial data. A skilled ACCA with strong analytical skills will be able to evaluate the organization's performance and will guide the business to meet its long-term as well as short-term goals effectively. So it is very important for ACCA students to hone their analytical skills and learn to anticipate the future performance and financial health of the organizations they are a part of.
6. Critical Thinking - Just like how we mentioned analytical skills, critical thinking is also taking the front seat these days as automation technology is replacing most of the manual tasks and roles accountants used to do. In the upcoming era, ACCA students will be more involved in projects that require critical thinking. Their role will not be limited to just understanding numbers on a spreadsheet. Instead, in the next decade accountants will have to work with real-time reporting and provide predictive analysis, and insights, and give solutions that use strategic thinking to the stakeholders and business partners.
Having a mindset of critical thinking will enable ACCAs to make proactive decisions and navigate the business in the right direction. Accountants will play a critical role in providing business owners with analysis and evaluation to not only understand the market but to keep the organization ahead of the competition.
7. Creativity - Being a great ACCA requires you to use both sides of your brain, not just the analytical side but the creative side as well. Creativity and having a creative edge will be what sets an ACCA apart from the competition as automation continues to replace the day-to-day small tasks Accountants were used to. Apart from this businesses will also focus on hiring individuals with a creative flair who will be able to build businesses that are different from the competition.
Businesses will expect accountants to come up with interesting and innovative solutions and at times creative ideas to tackle problems. This will also be an area that will give you an edge in the long run as accountants can think outside the box and expect creative ideas, unlike machines who will just process data. Machines can critically think through problems and give creative solutions to work toward better business processes.
8. Decision Making - Another area in which we still hold an edge over the machines is making informed judgements and decisions. It is crucial that ACCA students and professionals build on their decision-making ability so as to make important decisions in their accounting careers during the next decade. Financial reporting is seeing rapid evolution and will convey both financial as well as non-financial information. This will provide both the business owners and investors with a clearer picture of the company's overall performance. In the upcoming decade, ACCA students will see more information about the costs of doing business. They will be required to analyze and judge the data using the reports to make informed decisions for the future health of the business.
Accountants will need to make complex decisions taking the entire business into consideration, instead of fixating on just financial numbers available on a spreadsheet.
Digital literacy is going to be the most important aspect of what ACCA students can expect in 2022. As automation sees a rapid rise, manual work will be replaced and accountants will need to upskill themselves to provide insights machines will not be able to. Making complex decisions, critical thinking and analytical thinking will play important roles and will be common job requirements to do well in the accounting industry going forward. There is no denying that ACCA students and affiliates will have to embrace the digital world and all that it has to offer so as to evolve and help businesses drive towards their business goals in the future.