Anyone who has gone through professional accountancy exams will appreciate just how tough they are.
I can still remember the struggle along the way to getting qualified.
Across the UK there are around 300,000 qualified accountants. In percentage terms still quite a small proportion of the population.
One would therefore think that once you are qualified you are almost guaranteed to be successful in your career.
Sadly that’s not always the case.
Over the years I’ve worked with other accountants who were brilliant at passing the exams but never got close to realising their potential.
Equally there have been others, myself included, who got through the exams through sheer determination but managed to reach a senior level.
Like most things in life achieving success as an accountant does not come with a guarantee.
I also believe that there is no blueprint or formula that if you follow you will definitely get the results that you want.
Even so there are some things that you can do to stack the odds in your favour.
Take Personal Responsibility
Once upon a time you had a boss who looked out for you, helped you get the right experience and skills and supported you in your career.
While you might still be lucky and have that support, for the vast majority it’s not available so much these days.
That’s not because your manager cares less than they did in the past.
Factors like consolidation of industries, mergers and takeovers mean that the bosses themselves have less certainty.
So in many ways you have to take responsibility for your own success.
Focus On Adding Value
I’ve yet to come across many accountants who are short of things to do.
More often than not it’s a case of too much to do and too little time.
The problem is that it is really easy to keep yourself busy on the routine, business as usual or maintenance type activities.
While these activities need doing they are not going to make you standout.
If you’re serious about standing out and getting on in your career you need to divert more time and energies to added value activities.
These added value activities include things like making improvements in processes, people and performance. Contributing to organisational projects, eliminating waste, improving sales or reducing costs.
An exercise I often get clients to do is analyse their time between business as usual and value added activities. The results can be pretty stark once they have done this.
Work On Your Soft Skills
Most accountants are great or at least very competent in their area of technical skills.
Keeping these technical skills up to date is important professionally.
On the other hand what people will value in addition to your technical skills is someone who has good non technical or soft skills.
With the increasing move to more finance business partnering roles the ability to work collaboratively with a whole host of different people outside of your professional field is becoming almost an essential skill.
It’s your non technical skills that make you a success as a finance business partner in my experience.
In truth all qualified accountants have the potential to standout and achieve career success.
The question you need to ask is whether you are ready and willing to take the action to increase your chances of success.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 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.