5 Essential Business Skills Needed in Accounting

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It’s true that management accountants need the know-how to balance a budget, to complete a month-end report, and many other financial skills of managing a business. But other skills are equally important for success in our careers.

Mastering these 5 business skills will help you grow professionally and advance your career as a management accountant.

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  1. Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

Open communication and collaborating with your team are keys to success. Writing skills are necessary for clear and coherent reports. A very wise business leader once told me that he knew he didn’t really understand something until he could explain it succinctly, in writing, to someone else. Working on presentations and collaborating on special projects with employees outside of your department will help you cultivate this skill set.

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  1. Organization

Managing your workload isn’t easy when piles of papers have accumulated on your desk for the past three months. Organized employees have the most streamlined processes because they know where to find what they’re looking for, whether it be paper or digital. Organize your digital filing system in a clear and consistent manner; make sure your files are properly backed up, and important schedules and documents are available to your colleagues in your absence.

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  1. Leadership

Leadership skills are important for management accountants at every level of an organization. Taking charge of your work and your team will demonstrate your promotability. A leader emerges when the group is presented with a challenge, and one person demonstrates the commitment and competence to make sure the team delivers.

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  1. Time Management

Deadlines are an important part of our jobs as management accountants. We have regulatory filing deadlines and ever-increasing pressure for a rapid monthly close. Managing your time well reduces the stress of the deadline and allows you to prioritize your work. Streamlining the recurring work and completing it earlier in the month gives you more time to focus on new projects and innovations.

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  1. Use of Technology

In the age of digital offices and video conferencing, we need to be one step ahead of the cyberfraudsters. This means you’re continuously scanning the landscape for improved processes and accounting software and leading (or co-leading with the IT department) its implementation.

Accountants as Business Partners

Professionals holding the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) credential are in the perfect position to be leaders in their organization. They have the balance of accounting and business skills needed to become trusted business partners. You can find learning resources, including webinars, online courses, and educational articles, at IMA’s website: www.imanet.org/learning-center/learning-center-overview.

Written by Doreen Remmen

 


PLEASE NOTE: In the spirit of collaboration, the Moments that Matter blog will be migrating to the Strategic Finance website later in August under a new name: “IMA Moments.” We are very excited for this collaboration. I would like to thank all of our loyal readers for following our blog for the past three years, and I’m looking forward to your continued readership.

 


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Get the Most Out of Your Conference Experience

In the past I’ve talked about how continuing your education by earning certifications and participating in mentoring programs can be beneficial to your career. Another important form of continuing education is attending a professional conference. Conferences should be a fun, engaging experience where you learn new skills and make professional contacts. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your next professional conference.

Personal Development Plan
Before you go to the conference, spend some time reviewing the program and choosing the sessions you want to attend. Think about this in the context of your career goals. Write down what you want to achieve in the next few years (e.g., job change, promotion, etc.). Then do a self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, and choose sessions that will help you address the needs you have identified.

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I’m a huge advocate of lifelong continuing education, and conferences are great learning forums. Conference sessions offer a variety of educational opportunities and, depending on your area of interest, can include discussions of top industry trends, how-to sessions, and motivational presentations. Not only can you learn from leading experts in the field, but you can also get inspired by hearing motivational life stories.

Attending the session is only the first step. What is perhaps even more important is applying what you learned on the job. That is how you reinforce what you’ve learned, improving your skills and helping you be more effective in your job.

Networking
There are so many opportunities for networking at conferences. It can be intimidating at first to start a conversation with someone you don’t know, but when you do, you’ll be proud of yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone. You might also make a valuable contact who will help you a great deal in your career, solve a current business problem, or offer career advice.

10458451_10152330358455829_6042484930867715104_nNetworking is also about helping others. Your knowledge and experience is valuable, and sharing it with someone else could help them in their job and perhaps help them advance their career. And you might also make a lifelong friend! Many of the attendees of conferences I attend, including IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo, became friends when they met at the conference. Conferences almost always build in time for social activities that keep it fun.

Many conferences now have mobile apps that allow you to not only plan your session attendance on your mobile device but also connect with other attendees both before and after the event.

Something for Everyone
Conferences are offered in nearly every area of interest. I attend IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo nearly every year and find it to be a great way to stay current in the field of management accounting. Every couple of years, I also attend conferences for testing professionals and association management, since I have to stay current in those fields as well. Attending conferences helps me stay connected with the latest industry trends and techniques and to other professionals in the field.

If you haven’t been to a conference yet, I encourage you do so as soon as you can. When you ask your boss for approval, be prepared. Show him or her which sessions you plan to attend and what skills and resources you intend to bring back to your job. IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo is coming up in June, and we can’t wait!

Written by Dennis Whitney, CMA, CFM, CAE
Follow me on twitter: @IMA_DWhitney

Related Articles:
“6 Secrets to Better Networking at Conferences” – Dave Kerpen, LinkedIn
“4 Reasons Your Employees Should Attend Conferences” – Janine Popick, Inc. Magazine

A CEO’s Reading List

Becoming a CEO isn’t the end of the highway—it just means you’ve made it to the expressway. It’s the beginning of another journey. You count on more people, and more people count on you to make the right decisions and do the right thing. You influence a broader audience and become a primary face of the organization.

With this dynamic role comes more responsibility and challenges, and continuous learning and growth are vital to keep pace. You can get certifications, go to conferences and seminars, or travel the world to meet new people and learn about their best practices. Another way to learn and grow is through reading. These are the most influential books I’ve read that have helped me shape IMA into the organization it is today, one that we are all proud of in terms of its contribution to enrich careers, organizations, and the public interest.

My Top 5 Books

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Trust, Inc. by Barbara Brooks Kimmel taught me how to be a more responsible leader and to lead with integrity and trust as a table stake for performance and culture. The book is full of case studies about what works and what doesn’t. Being transparent is important for a business to succeed. I had the honor of authoring a chapter in this book.

 

 

 

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21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell taught me how to build followership—the great teams and board of directors with whom you work with every day. If you trust, empower, and enrich people, they will follow you, respect you, and trust you in return. And, in effect, they won’t be afraid of expressing their true feelings and opinions, which leads to the next book.

 

 

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Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott talks about having open and honest conversations with active listening skills. A responsible leader listens to his or her team’s opinions, even if they are in disagreement, and opens the lines of communication. The extremes of shy agreement or bullying disagreement just don’t work.

 

 

 

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A Sense of Urgency by John P. Kotter taught me to not rest on my laurels. If you want change to happen, you have to act immediately with a sense of urgency. Be open to change and adapt to the new environment. A CEO must be flexible in a changing world.

 

 

 

The Advantage: WhThe-Advantagey Organization Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick M. Lencioni emphasizes the importance of a cohesive leadership team and a strong, clear vision of the future. It’s easy and fun to read because Lencioni writes in a narrative format that’s very relatable.

 

 

 

 

Live the Lessons

You would think your summer reading list would end at graduation, but reading is one of the easiest ways to continuously learn. The lessons I’ve learned from these books have helped me on my journey as IMA’s President and CEO. I’ve implemented many of these lessons into IMA’s business culture, and all staff and IMA volunteers live by these standards as it is our duty to our members and the global profession.

Which books are currently on your reading list? What are some lessons you’ve learned through reading?

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

 

 

 

Related Articles:
Read 2014’s Best Business Books In Two Hours – Forbes
If You Want to Be a Big Deal, Never Stop Learning – Entrepreneur