The role of a professional accountant is a vital one, assisting clients with financial matters that are often highly confidential. Accountants perform a number of tasks within this role, including book keeping, VAT, PAYE, Provisional Tax, financial statements, business plans and many other services. While accounting skills and education are the foundation of any accounting professional, there are a number of additional characteristics that are required of a professional accountant.
These include the following traits:
- Skills, knowledge and expertise
The most critical traits of any accounting professional is a solid education that provides a broad range of skills, knowledge and expertise within the various aspects of accounting services. Training ensures that accountants are fully versed across all accounting skills, so that they are able to perform tasks that are required of them. Without adequate education and training, accountants are not able to provide a high level of service excellence to clients, and also run the very serious risk of making mistakes or other lapses of judgment caused by a lack of understanding.
- Commitment to strong values
A number of values need to be held by a professional accountant, including integrity, accountability, reliability, ethics, moral reasoning, honesty, trustworthiness and confidentiality. These values play an important role, and help to ensure that accountants follow a strong set of internal rules that govern the way that they do business on a daily basis.
- Belongs to a recognised accountancy body
Accountants should also belong to a recognised accountancy body that ensures that they are subject to the disciplinary powers of that body. Some of the bodies within South Africa include Southern African Accounting Association, Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors, The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants; Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, Chartered Secretaries of South Africa, The South African Institute of Professional Accountants, Institute of Commercial and Financial Accountants of SA and South African Institute of Tax Practitioners.
- Upholds professional standards
The accountant must also uphold professional standards and approaches within the disciplines of recording, analysing, measuring, reporting, forecasting and offering advice and support in financial, management and strategic decisions, thereby adding value for their clients and stakeholders. Professional conduct plays an essential part of the accountant’s role, and is closely linked to the commitment of values.
- Commitment to on-going professional development
The final important trait of an accounting professional is the commitment to consistent professional development. Whether this is continuing to broaden their skills, obtain further qualifications within the industry, or any other professional achievements, it is crucial that the professional accountant is committed to improving their skills on a continuous basis.