8 Essential Skills ACCA Graduates Need in 2020

8 Essential Skills ACCA Students Will Need in 2020

Did you know that having an ACCA qualification can almost  double your salary as an accountant? But passing the exam may not be enough to keep up with the ever-changing accounting industry.

Accountants are navigating the same unpredictable waters as other industries. Digital technology continues to evolve and we are adapting as it does. 

Technology is making our lives easier and more efficient. Plus, our lives are becoming more global as it’s easier than ever to connect with others, irrelevant of distance or time.

So what does it take to keep up in today’s world? Here are 8 skills that ACCA students will need as we enter the next decade.

1. Technical Skills

Technology and automation in accounting have been some of the biggest adjustments accountants have to face. Digital technology is likely to have the biggest impact on the industry over the next decade.

ACCA accountants will be working more with cloud-based systems than their predecessors. Software systems can replace manual tasks, like bookkeeping and expense processing. Plus, using software can automate the financial close process.

Emerging accountants will perform less data-entry tasks and instead need to be experts on the software being used. Auditors are especially impacted. It won’t be long before systems complete most of the manual work that auditors have been doing, like matching invoices and payments or verifying the existence of transactions. Instead, accountants will be relied on for analysis, which we’ll cover later.

Cryptocurrency is also part of the technology boom. It’s predicted that our society is moving toward becoming entirely cashless. 

Bitcoin and other digital currencies are eliminating the need for companies to handle cash altogether. ACCA students will have to work with and understand cryptocurrency in the future in order to stay competitive.

2. Global Mindset

Global mindset

Our world is more connected now than ever before. Technology has made it easier for companies to become international. There can be many financial benefits to having international locations.

It will be your job as accountants to know these benefits in the future. With that, ACCA students should be thinking globally. That may mean learning the regulations of other countries or conducting business with people from other cultures.

Additionally, tax laws can be particularly important for international businesses. ACCA students will soon need to consider cross-border tax implications, tax trends and laws along with international tax treaties.

3. Professional Ethics

Ethics is and will continue to be crucial to the accounting industry. It’s the job of accountants to have integrity and practice professional scepticism.

Businesses are facing an increase in regulatory and governance policies because consumers are taking an interest in the way that companies conduct business. Social media can put any poor business behaviour in the spotlight, so companies are making ethics a crucial part of their business model.

As an ACCA student, it’s important to develop strong professional ethics. You’ll need to maintain professional independence and follow guidelines, policies, and procedures set by both your company and local accounting regulation agencies.


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4. Communication


ACCA students will need to be great communicators as we enter the next decade because accountants will be looked at as business partners when making decisions. 

There is a greater harmony among business segments now, with accounting professionals interacting with people inside and outside of their department. Teamwork is a valuable component of any business model and communicating effectively with your teammates will be a key task.

A high level of emotional intelligence can help when communicating with a diverse team. Emotional intelligence involves managing your own thoughts and emotions, while being conscious of others emotions, too.

5. Critical Thinking

Automation technology is replacing many of the manual tasks that accountants are used to doing. Moving forward, ACCA students will be involved in critical thinking projects instead.

Accountants will be looking beyond the numbers on a spreadsheet. In 2020 and the next decade, they will be looking at real-time reporting and offering predictive analysis, insights, and strategic thinking for business partners.

Critical thinking will allow proactive decisions to help steer the business in the right direction. Accountants will provide the analysis and evaluation that companies need to keep businesses ahead of their competition.

6. Creativity

Creative skills

ACCA students will need a creative edge in order to stand out in the next decade as automation replaces some of the grunt work that accountants are used to. 

In addition, companies will focus on hiring creative individuals to help build better processes.

Businesses will want accountants to think outside the box and provide creative ideas and solutions to problems. Machines can process data, but they won’t be able to critically think through obstacles and work toward better processes.

7. Analysis

ACCA students are coming into an industry with better reporting and near real-time data. You will be expected to analyze data rather than just reporting the numbers.

The accounting industry is playing a large role in business decisions today and that will continue through 2020. Business leaders expect accountants to interpret and analyze the numbers while providing strategic insights.

Business leaders want to know trends and patterns, plus if there are any inconsistencies in both financial and non-financial data. Accountants with analytical skills will help evaluate company performance and help guide businesses toward achieving their short and long-term goals. 

ACCA students should prepare to use analysis to anticipate the future performance and financial health of the companies they work for.

8. Judgement & Decision Making

Judgement & Decision Making

Humans still hold the edge over machines with judgment and making decisions. It’s important that ACCA students keep their judgment sharp and prepare to make important decisions in their accounting careers during the next decade.

Financial reporting is continuing to evolve and includes non-financial and financial information. That gives businesses and investors a better picture of overall company performance. 

In the future, ACCA students will see more information about the costs of doing business. They’ll be asked to judge the data within the reports and make decisions for the future health of the business.

Accountants will need to make complex decisions based on the entire business picture, instead of just the financial numbers on their spreadsheet.

Final Thoughts

What 2020 holds for ACCA students revolves around digital literacy. As automation continues to replace manual work, accountants will be used for the skills that machines don’t have.

Critical thinking, complex decision making, and analysis will be common job skill requirements for the accounting industry going forward. 

ACCA students and affiliates will need to embrace the digital world and all it brings in order to evolve and help drive the companies they work for into the future.

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Topics: ACCA