Chartered accountants come from many educational backgrounds and bring multiple skills to their careers.

There are many ways to become a chartered accountant meaning you can find the right route for you. As well as having a strong academic background, employers are looking for candidates who stand out from the crowd and can bring something extra to their organisation. Among other things, you’ll need to show a genuine interest in, and commitment to, your chosen career path.

Essential Skills to become a successful Chartered Accountant

What soft skills do accountancy employers look for?

There are specific soft skills that will be more helpful than others when applying for accountancy graduate roles.

The core soft skills that employers look for include:

  • Literacy and numeracy
  • Time management and organisation
  • Oral and written communication
  • Teamwork
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Initiative and enterprise
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Ability to apply discipline, knowledge and concepts
  • Information gathering, evaluation and synthesis
  • Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills
  • Adaptability
  • People skills & Professionalism

These skills look beyond what you’ve learnt in education. They show you are a great communicator, a real team player and a key decision maker. Stand out in your application by showing you’ve got what it takes to become a chartered accountant.

People skills

Chartered accountants interact with people from a wide range of backgrounds, abilities and cultures.

Great chartered accountants can communicate complex financial information and advice to colleagues, managers and clients in an easy-to-understand way.

Improve your people skills by putting yourself into situations that require lots of interaction with people from a wide range of backgrounds, abilities, and cultures. Volunteering and part-time jobs give you access to lots of people from different generations, levels, and experiences, all of which helps to develop your communication skills.

Communication and teamwork

Chartered Accountants can convert complex financial information into simple, digestible advice for clients and colleagues.

Knowing when to operate as a team member or a team leader is vital, as is the ability to support and motivate others to achieve common goals.

Team working skills can be gained and demonstrated through any societies or teams you are part of. Think about what made your team successful and highlight your contribution to that. Keep track of any actions you took that resulted in the overall success of the team for future job applications and interviews.
Accountants often work in teams and will have to convey information to people who may not be proficient in accountancy jargon, so the ability to explain concepts in a digestible manner is an advantage.

Decision-making and problem-solving

The ability to be able to research, collate, analyse, and interpret data from a wide range of sources helps chartered accountants to make sound, ethical business decisions that provide professional solutions all around.
usinesses and organisations need people with varied backgrounds, interests, and knowledge to help them become successful. There are many ways to become a chartered accountant, whether you’re a graduate, a school leaver or a professional looking to move into industry.

Problem-solving is all about using logic, as well as imagination, to make sense of your situation and come up with an intelligent solution. Examples of problem-solving can be taken from and applied to all aspects of your life. Consider mistakes that you have rectified in the past and what you would do differently in the future. When it comes to communicating your problem-solving ability the most important thing is to present the problem and the actions you took.

Professionalism and ethics

Chartered accountants behave professionally and ethically which comes as no surprise as this is the foundation of ACA exams. Sustainability, society, and ethical business are at the heart of a chartered accountant’s work. Chartered accountants are highly respected for behaving professionally and always conduct businesses ethically.

Presenting a professional image doesn’t mean sacrificing your own personality. It means you should always be aware of how your behaviour may be viewed by others and ensure you always take the best course of action for both you and your employer. Professionalism also includes how you treat your colleagues – superiors, peers, and all those around you in your place of work. It is very important to respect all individuals in the workplace at every stage in your career.

What hard skills do accountancy employers look for?

As well as qualifications, you will also need to demonstrate other hard skills that you may have learnt either through your degree or through internships or work experience. Skills such as:

IT skills

The desired level of expertise can vary from employer to employer. From basic Excel skills to be proficient in business intelligence software. If there are any programmes you used or skills, you learnt on any work experience or internships be sure to mention them in your interview. While you may not be using the same programmes or software, basic understanding of how they work is a huge advantage.

Chartered accountants have well-rounded technical skills, keep up to date with technology and can use it to solve problems and develop strategic advice.

Even at entry level, employers will expect applicants to be computer literate. This is one area where first impressions count.
The majority of employers now take online applications so the first example they will see of your IT skills will be your application or CV. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes, don’t just rely on spell check, get someone to proofread it for you too. This will show an employer you have a keen attention to detail.

Commercial awareness

By being commercially aware, chartered accountants can think creatively about problems to identify solutions and give their organisation a competitive edge. Understanding an employer’s business will show them that you have a grasp of their market. Demonstrating knowledge of an employer’s competitors helps you recognise the challenges they come up against. It will make you better equipped to make decisions for them.

Follow employers on Twitter and LinkedIn and set up keyword searches. All of this will be great preparation for an interview.

Of course, graduate employers don’t expect you to be able to master all these skills, and you will learn many of the more specialist skills on the job. However, any specialist knowledge that you have picked up through your degree or work experience should be highlighted. Don’t forget, your skills do not equate with your qualifications and should be treated separately.


A large aspect of being an accountant is dealing with numbers and ensuring that finances are managed well in a business. You would also need to be able to analyse the numbers you are working with and come up with solutions and ways to communicate complex issues to clients.

Find out what skills can be particularly useful when becoming a charted accountant by reading the Employee Profile section of Accountancy Careers’ website. Here, there are first-hand reports from those working in the profession.

About the Author

  • Name: ICAEW
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