The rise of the role of information technology in the modern and complex business environment has necessitated the need for accountants to be tech-savvy. A number of accountancy software, which is useful in enhancing the efficiency and productiveness of accountancy work, has been developed. Even though technology in accounting can be frustrating to some extent, the benefits that arise at the end of the process are far much greater than the pitfalls (Collins, 2009). This, therefore, places a big emphasis on accountants to be tech-savvy and have good software background as they perform their duties. Thus, software background and knowledge of professional accountancy software are the major considerations when companies make the decision to hire a new accountant. However, software background will be useless if the accountant does not conform to the set standards and regulations formulated and administered by various accountancy regulatory bodies in their respective countries and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). This paper seeks to explain the reason as to why knowledge of basic software should not be the main attributes when hiring an accountant, even for the entry-level position in accounting-related work. This is because accounting is more than just data entry. It involves making decision. An accountant can only learn through academic notions and up-to-date guidelines proposed by the governing bodies.
Personal competence factors and traits
Barretta (2014) outlines a set of factors that firms should consider before hiring certified public accountants in a company. By highlighting on a set of seven factors, he indicates that there is more to being an accountant than just having the basic accounting education and knowledge of software. These factors will include the person’s personality traits, his or her ease of integration into the company, and the ability to use the system that the company is using. Thus, the accountant would have to consider whether he/she will be able to utilize the accounting systems that the company is using. This means that one will be required to have a prior training and practical experience in using the particular system. Before a company considers hiring the accountant, it will have to determine whether the accountant has this background knowledge and experience on the basic accounting functions like double entry, which does not require knowledge of software. Barretta therefore places a big emphasis on the need for accountants to develop other skills.
Education and continuous professional development
Accounting is more than just data entry. This is because it involves making decisions, which can only be learnt through academic notions and up-to-date guidelines proposed by the governing bodies. However, this complexity places a burden on accountants given that they will have to be regularly updated on the current developments in international accounting. The accounting standards are continuously changing all over the world as a result of increase in complexity of business environments, the integration of world financial centers, the increasing impact of information technology on integration and diversification in cultures, which is enhanced through opening up of borders. Due to these complexities, it increases the costs to both the companies and individual accountants, which will be incurred for continuous professional education and development. Salome and Rotimi (2013) suggest that there is a substantial implication of continuous professional education and development on the productivity of accountants. It places a lot of emphasis on education and professional development, which should be considered in the hiring process.
Knowledge of government-developed regulations and standards set by international and local professional accountancy bodies
Accountants rely on sufficient accounting information in making very critical decisions that have a big impact on the success or failure of a business. These decisions require sufficient background information to back up the decisions taken in addition to ensuring that they conform to the requirements set out by the governing bodies, such as government regulators and professional accountancy bodies. In making these decisions, it will require comprehension of the standards that are set by the governing bodies. Actually, the best decisions are made by critical thinking in a highly uncertain business and economic environment. It means therefore that hiring an accountant with sufficient software knowledge will not guarantee good decisions being made for the business. The governing bodies formulate a set of guidelines that will be followed in preparation and presentation of financial information. Such bodies are important in standard setting, which accountants should follow in their day-to-day decision making. Thus government regulation plays a big role in shaping accounting practice (Day, 2004).
The changing trends of the accountancy profession
In considering whether to hire a new accountant, a company does not only consider the software background of this accountant but also his or her ability to adapt to the changing technological environment of accounting. Howieson (2003) highlights that the accountancy profession has gone through a tremendous change, which has necessitated the need to adapt the educational standards. This means therefore that academic notions are important in helping the accountant to make good decisions. These academic notions are developed in a class room environment and hence, there needs to be the convergence of education standards in order to churn out accountants that can work in any international business environment. There has also been a shift in the development of accounting curriculum in shaping the accountants’ skills. Therefore, education plays a big role in imparting the knowledge to accountants, especially given that the view of accountants is changing in the eyes of the public. It is important for any serious business to hire international accountants and develop strategies to attract and retain the best talents.
Other attributes that impact on the quality of accountants
As noted earlier, the possession of accounting background and education is important for any accountant, including the knowledge of basic software, such as QuickBooks and other enterprise resource software like SAP. These factors are not the only drive that motivates employers to select the best candidates. It is important to note that such factors are important but they should not be the only factors that are to be taken into consideration when deciding to hire a new accountant. An accountant will be expected to have a mix of several skills and attributes, such as the willingness to learn and adapt to a new work environment. The possession of good interpersonal skills, which are dependent on the person’s interpersonal capabilities, is a key, given that they will be useful in improving the relationships with the internal staff and outside world. Also, the potential employers will have to consider the motivational capabilities of such individuals in identifying the key driver for them wanting to join the company.
The solution to this impasse lies within the profession itself. Given the increasing complexities in new business environments and advances in technology, which are changing the accounting practice in the world, there is a need to develop all accountants. This will be attained by ensuring that international accountancy bodies, such the International Federation of Accountants and the Financial Reporting Standards Board, develop a set of policies and procedures that accounting education and practice should follow. Also, in order to ensure that software knowledge does not become a barrier, there is a need to develop convergent systems that can be used anywhere without specialized education. This will be attained only through spearheading the integration of accounting practice and harmonization of accounting practices all over the world. It will ensure that the accountants being hired are best qualified with good competencies in accounting, good decision making skills and conformity with the required standards.
Barretta, M. (2014). 7 Key Factors to Consider Before Hiring an Accountant or Bookkeeper. Retrieved from //www.trade-pals.com/node/23308
Collins, C. (2009). The Tech-Savvy CPA. Journal of Accountancy, 16(32). Retrieved from //www.journalofaccountancy.com/Issues/2009/Jun/20091632.htm
Day, R. (2004). A critical review of accounting standard setting and the role of Government from 1980 to 1990. Journal of Applied Accounting Research, 7(2), 80-133. Doi: 10.1108/96754260480001038
Howieson, B. (2003). Accounting practice in the new millennium: is Accounting education ready to meet the challenge? The British Accounting Review, 35(2), 69-103. Doi: 10.1016/S0890-8389(03)00004-0
Salome, E. N., & Rotimi, O. (2013). Implications of Training and Development Programmes on Accountants Productivity in selected business organizations in Onitsha, Anambra state, Nigeria. International Journal of Asian Social Science, 2013, 3(1):266-281. Retrieved from //www.aessweb.com/pdf-files/266-281.pdf