In an industry that continues to be competitive and fast-growing, it’s important for graduates to be aware of what Banking & Finance employers are looking for in graduate accountants. Graduates need to be able to show more than an accounting degree in a graduate job interview – whether you’re starting out as a Graduate Finance Assistant or Graduate FX Broker, there are several key skills and attributes that will set you apart from the rest.
A flexible worker
Every graduate accountant needs the capacity to work flexibly, no matter what field of accounting they're based in. You'll need to manage different aspects of accounts, which may involve a change of pace and tasks throughout the day. If you begin your graduate accounting career by working for a small business (as many do), you’ll be working in a growing team, which will require adaptability. You'll need to balance your time between a varying number of clients; a feat which can be difficult if you’re new to the profession.
You will need to mentor clients from the very beginning. While clients will have varying degrees of knowledge about accounts, it’s likely you will need to explain complicated pieces of tax legislation on a regular basis, as well as help your clients understand why they are important.
With the introduction of ‘Making Tax Digital’, you will also need to learn about the different processes on the relevant software to help your clients overcome any difficulties they have with uploading their information to an online system.
A well-informed professional
Employers expect their accountants to be on the ball when it comes to industry news. You need to be aware of any new legislation to ensure each client's accounts are as tax efficient as possible. This may require you to go on the odd day course so you are up-to-date with all of the legislation and news. If you begin as a Junior Accountant, it's likely you'll work your way up through different exams and levels, which will require you to have even more of an understanding of industry news.
Paramount to becoming a successful graduate accountant is the ability to communicate clearly. This isn't just a skill required for communication between you and the clients – although it will be necessary then too. Communication within the office is vital in order to correctly process accounts and ask clients for the right information.
You'll need to liaise with both the sales team and the administration team in order to correctly complete accounts. This will mean you should be confident and comfortable to communicate with colleagues on a daily basis through email, phone and in person.
An IT whizz
The upcoming ‘Making Tax Digital’ scheme from HMRC will soon be obligatory for all who complete a Self-Assessment. The scheme means that rather than completing a Self-Assessment return, self-employed workers, company directors and anyone in between will need to set up a cloud accounting account and use it to update HMRC on their personal income. While this might seem like a simple task, there are many clients who will be unfamiliar with cloud accounting software. In this case, many will turn to their accountants for help, which means you'll need to be tech-savvy to get the case solved.