As an accountant you understand what an asset is. Something that is used to create value for the organisation. Yet in many organisations people, especially those in functional roles are seen as an overhead or expense. One of those things that is necessary to have but not necessarily seen as business critical.
Of course you like anyone else in the organisation want to achieve success in your career. It can be tempting to think that it is just a matter of getting the right qualifications, keeping up with your continuing professional development and your career will take care of itself.
The trouble is qualifications and continuing professional development is just the start. Organisations want and need people in functional roles like Finance to do what they do well. On the other hand accountants are pretty well paid. As a result you are expected to be adding real value.
If you are going to be seen as an asset in your organisation you have to be adding value. If you are just going through the motions, why would an employer look to help you achieve more career success? You are going to invest in people who give a good return on that investment.
So what can you do to be viewed as an asset rather than an overhead in your organisation?
Get involved in business projects. These are a great way to show that you really can contribute beyond your own professional discipline. Additionally they provide a great way of developing your skills too. You get to understand people more and learn how they approach things differently. You learn how to communicate more effectively too and learn how to influence.
Always be on the lookout for ways of doing things better. Once you have identified something, take a bit of time to work out a brief outline of what could be done differently, the business benefits and how it could be achieved. The key thing is to actually facilitate the improvement taking place rather than fault finding.
Become a trusted advisor. This is a tricky one but not as difficult as it might seem. Accountants by training often tend to focus on the downside. There is nothing wrong with this as such. The only problem is that you can easily get a reputation (unfairly) that you just say no all of the time. The trusted business advisor on the other hand really listens, understands, and helps to find a way forward while still highlighting the downsides. They in effect facilitate and support better decision making.
Don’t be reluctant to take the lead. Most people outside of accountancy think the training is all numbers based. As those who do professional accountancy qualifications, accounting is still core and you learn a lot more about a whole range of business areas. Don’t keep this under wraps. Use it for the benefit of the organisation and perceptions of you will shift dramatically.
The reality is that as an accountant you have so much to offer the organisation. Making some changes in where you invest your time and how you operate can make a significant difference as to whether you are seen as an asset or an overhead. Ultimately whether you get on or get stuck at certain level.
Duncan Brodie helps ambitious qualified accountants working in industry, commerce or the public sector to achieve more career success. He invites you to check out his free report The 7 Biggest Barriers to A Successful Career In Accountancy
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 7,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.