With over 650,000 actively licensed CPAs in the United States, you shouldn’t have a problem, you shouldn’t have a problem finding an individual to fill a position or fill a personal accounting need. However, certain traits allow CPAs to stand apart from the crowd. While interviewing and reviewing applications, keep the following qualities in mind. These characteristics make for a competent and efficient CPA.
Attention to detail
Accounting work can be a tricky business. All calculations need to be exact; every figure needs to be accurate. A good CPA will have a strategy for keeping track of details—whether that means reviewing forms two to three times before submitting or keeping diligent notes during work and meetings.
This trait is important for every industry worker, but it is especially essential for CPAs. Accountants often juggle dozens of clients at a time, and those clients often require different services and support. A CPA needs to maintain an organizational system in order to keep up with figures, data, and paperwork they accumulate on the job. Great organization leads to maximum productivity.
This is one of the most important skills for any client-facing professional. A good CPA should be able to clearly and articulately explain their process and figures to clients, peers, and higher-ups. If there is any confusion about a specific task, they should feel comfortable in asking for clarification and direction. Communication goes hand-in-hand with trustworthiness and accuracy, all of which are essential in a good accountant.
This skill is in line with attention to detail and communication, but it merits its own mention. Time-management is imperative to efficient accounting work. If you’re trying to find a good CPA, ask about their time management strategies; if nothing comes to mind, they likely haven’t developed an efficiency system. If they already have a tried and true strategy for tackling several problems at once, they know how to prioritize needs and skills.
You want a CPA who has broad financial experience, whether that means financial planning, tax law, or auditing history. Though accountants often specialize in a specific service, finding a professional with a range of experience and interests guarantees their ability to work beyond their professional niche when necessary. They can also provide invaluable insight and problem-solving skills in tough situations.