“The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, the willingness to learn is a choice.” – Brian Hebert
Professional skills are career competencies that often are not taught or acquired as part of the coursework. Professional skills such as leadership, mentoring, project management, and conflict resolution are value-added skills essential to any career. Along with the preparations for your CA finals paper or IPCC papers, it is also necessary to slowly start working towards these required professional skills. You don’t get exposed to these skills until you are in the heart of the commercial trade. But is important to have some knowledge about these skills and try to start developing them from a young age. Being a successful CA is about more than just having a good head for figures and knowing your way around a spreadsheet. Succeeding as a CA calls for a well-rounded set of business skills and personal attributes.
- Professional Skills for CAs
- Communication skills- Communication is a major part of becoming an accountant. You must be able to communicate effectively with your clients and explain to them in a simple language about their financial queries. How you communicate is just as important as what you communicate. You must be able to adapt to different communication styles depending upon your clients. You must be able to cut through the complex information and get to the important facts.
- Commercial awareness- Commercial awareness is about having a thorough knowledge of how a particular organisation works, a firm understanding of their business environment in which their clients operate and be able to use it to your advantage. Commercial awareness is a must for every aspiring CA as this helps you to get an insight on what works and what doesn’t work for a particular organisation. It helps you to give them appropriate advice in their business strategies and budget planning.
- Leadership skills- It is important to be a good leader and take charge of your team and get the work done smoothly while still being a part of the team yourself. A good leader knows how to mentor and teach and makes himself available to the people he is responsible for. In accounting, leadership skills also include strategic thinking and long term planning. Many accountants offer advice and business solutions to help companies improve their operations, so the ability to look ahead is the key.
- ****ytical skills- Accountants are experts at calculations and numbers. But the ability to ****yse and make decisions based on these numbers is also equally important. Having good ****ytical skills helps you to solve complex problems using a logical informed decision-making, using different sources of information to support their chosen approach.
- A thorough knowledge of the trending finance and commerce rules (GST)- The country’s financial rules keep changing frequently due to the rise or drop in its economic conditions. It is important for every upcoming chartered accountant to be constantly aware of these changes. These changes are major part of our country’s financial and economic structure and as CA’s work mainly with budgeting and taxes, these rules play a big role in making financial decisions.
- Tally operations- The knowledge of tally is one of the basic requirements for an accountant. Tally is the most common accounting software used all over India. Every organisation uses tally to maintain its budgeting and financial record. Thus a thorough knowledge of the workings and uses of tally is a must for a budding accountant.
- Ethics and professionalism- Upholding strong ethical values is a core attribute for a successful CA. Approaching the clients with professionalism is a requirement of the job. This is about being able to take an enquiring, questioning approach, and not always accepting information at face value. CAs need to be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture, and apply a healthy dose of professional scepticism to their work – looking behind the figures to get to the truth.
- Teamwork- CA’s are often an important part of an organisation’s strategic team. Not only do they need to work effectively with people who have similar skills, but as they become more strategic, they also need to collaborate across different departments and business functions. Therefore, teamwork skills are an integral part of becoming a CA.
- How to Develop and Nurture Professional Skills
- Assessing yourself- The first and foremost step to developing the required professional skills is to asses yourself. CAs are taught to be alert and hard work from the beginning. They are quick at calculations and can catch even the smallest mistake at a glance. They are good at planning and assessment of the situation. These are some of the skills which accountants learn from a young age. But there are many other skills which are required in the corporate industry. These skills can be developed by firstly assessing yourself. Take into consideration the skills that you already have and the skills that you require or need to work on more. This helps you to work towards developing these skills better.
- Theoretical knowledge- The next step towards nurturing these professional skills is to gain a complete knowledge about them. CAs are known to be really good at theoretical knowledge and can learn a lot by reading texts. There are a lot of books available in the markets which give you an idea as to what these skills are and how they could be developed. For example, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ is a great book about leadership skills. The internet is the biggest source of information. There are also training institutes all over India which specialise in developing professional skills and tech you to apply them while working in the industry.
- Practical knowledge- After gaining a thorough knowledge of the professional skills, it is now time to apply them practically. This means you must try to gain some work experience. Look for internships, try to apply for trainings. Look for a practicing CA who is willing to take you under his wing and expose you to the commercial world. The work in a financial office is fast moving and constantly changing. This helps to expose you to a proper office environment and by observing the skills and workings of your colleagues, you learn better. Even when you are put in a situation, where you are given the opportunity to deal with financial client, you try to act upon it using the knowledge and observations that you have and thus learn and develop the required skills.
- Feedback- The last step towards developing professional skills is to get feedback and guidelines from senior accountants and expert trainers. No man is born perfect. We learn from our mistakes. Thus while working under a practicing CA or interning in a consultancy firm, it is very important to get a thorough feedback on your performance and obtain guidelines as to how you can improve these skills.
The biggest advantage of developing professional skills while you are still completing your CA course is that you are confident and ready by time you are prepared to enter the business world. In today’s world, there is a lot of competition and employers look for the best in people. Along with an excellent accounting knowledge, if you develop these necessary professional skills, you will be able to handle the challenges more easily as compared to your peers. These skills help to boost your confidence, credibility and efficiency in work. CAs are world-class professionals who are also required to maintain the highest levels of professional competence. Nurturing your skills as a student will be essential for the required and optional professional development available to you as a full CA member.