What Makes an Accountant Successful?


As finance and accounting recruiters in Toronto we regularly meet with people at different stages of their professional career. What we’ve noted is that certain traits seem to best predict success. In order to get the career you want, try to foster the following qualities, while mitigating the ones that can hinder your development.


Successful vs Unsuccessful Accountants
Let’s start with the traits that can fast-track your career.

Be a Strong Communicator
Whether you’re a nuts and bolts accountant, or a financial analyst trying to help different departments, the stronger your communication skills, the better chance you have of moving up the corporate ladder. Various accounting roles require you to build business partnerships, generate strong cross-functional relationships or create buy-in. And whether it’s connecting with a challenging team member or client, great communication skills can make you more effective in your role. (as a side note when we asked C suite members and senior managers about which skill best predicted success they named top level communication skills as number one).

If you want some tips for becoming a great communicator read this great article.

Be Curious
Albert Einstein said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” The father of the Theory of Relativity had it right. When we stop questioning, we become complacent. By asking intelligent questions and engaging people in discussions about processes, projects, or things they’re passionate about we see opportunities to add value, build rapport and increase our knowledge base about the company and its big picture.

Be Motivated
Motivation exists on several fronts. It manifests as initiative. It shows up as a determination to see a task or project through to completion, and it creates a solutions- focused mentality. In a leadership capacity the ability to motivate others can turn a good leader into an exceptional one.

What Traits to Avoid
Having explored the traits that can help an accountant be successful, here are several that can hinder your career aspirations.

Individuals who are not successful often see external factors as limiting their career progression. They believe, however misguidedly, that firms are responsible for actively developing every employee’s skill set. These individuals would benefit from taking the initiative to identify professional development opportunities, or better yet a potential mentor. The first can prepare you for your next role, and the second can gain you an advocate when the time comes for a promotion.

Read this article to understand how a sense of entitlement can compromise leadership ability and a company’s forward trajectory.

Clock Watching
There will be times when you have to work long hours. Whether it’s hitting a deadline, completing an initiative at the 11th hour or busy season, there will be times when you have to work well beyond 5pm. High-level finance executives have told us that they would tell their younger selves to accept the long hours that are a part of the job and to do the work without complaint.

Starting Without Finishing
C Suite members and senior leadership have told us that while they all love someone who can generate a great idea, they grow frustrated with people who don’t follow through. To them, a mark of an excellent accountant is someone who can stay focused, analytical and accurate even when greeted by obstacles or unexpected barriers.

Key Takeaways
To be a successful accountant you not only need to be detail focused, accurate and analytical, you also need to be a strong communicator.  Take the initiative, be motivated and willing to work beyond 5pm should a deadline call for it. Avoid a sense of entitlement and identify opportunities to grow your skill set, whether that’s in the form of professional development courses or a mentor. Recognize that by making wise, strategic choices and delivering for those who depend on you, you can have the career that you want.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.