Do accountants really need to be good at maths?

I’ve recently seen an advert from a fellow accountant which included many deliberate spelling mistakes with the strapline, “don’t worry I’m good at maths” and while I can see the humorous side to it, it was actually accentuating a stereotype I don’t really agree with, which is the belief by some that the most important skill for an accountant is to be good at maths.

I wanted to give you an idea about what kind of skills an accountant should have, and yes understanding numbers is definitely important but so are many other things like understanding tax law, having the judgement regarding what looks reasonable in terms of tax deductible expenses.

Going one step further we work hard to protect clients from tax enquiries and make sure that HMRC have all the information they need so they don’t have to come back and ask for more, and then going further than that and understanding when a client is being taken advantage of by the tax authorities and fighting it.

Presentation is also key as often I’m filing accounts online in the public domain or my clients are taking figures to investors and banks and people need to get a feel that they’re working with a professional organisation and that comes through in all aspects of the work we do.

It’s not always just about being able to calculate figures as a lot of the time tax software does it for you, what we really need to do is be able to sense check things at a higher level and understand when the tax software has fallen over or something looks out of place based on what we know about our client.

So we’ve already seen a few aspects of being an accountant but going even further than that, you could be the best accountant in the world in terms of being able to calculate number, understanding tax law and having that presentation, but if you can’t get the client to understand what’s going on in simple terms and walk away with some clear actions then it’s all for nothing.

“It’s not just about having the knowledge, it’s about having the energy and dedication to actually use it.”

So to summarise, those are the skills I believe an accountant needs and this stereotype where accountants are good at maths and only good at maths needs to die because there’s so many other aspects of being an accountant that are important.

If you’re looking for energetic well-rounded accountants to support your business then get in touch today for a free consultation, we’re based in Northampton but also cover the surrounding areas.

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