Infographic: Skills of a successful CA
Being a successful CA is about more than just having a good head for figures and knowing your way around a spreadsheet. This infographic takes a look at the components of a CA.
Here at ICAS, we know that succeeding as a CA calls for a well-rounded set of business skills and personal attributes.
For CAs, how you communicate is just as important as what you are communicating. CAs need to be able to communicate complex technical information and financial data in a way that non-CAs can get to grips with.
CAs need to effectively communicate with senior people such as CEOs, board members, clients and investors, and also with their peers and team members too. The best CAs can cut through complex information straight to the facts that matter most to the business or the client.
They can also adapt their communication style depending on the audience, and use the right channel - whether that's a face-to-face presentation or meeting, a written business report, memo or email.
Tailor your message. Think about who you are communicating with and their existing level of knowledge; what should be your starting point? Put yourself in their shoes – what do they need to know and what questions might they have about the issue?
CAs with commercial awareness have a solid understanding of the business environment in which their organisation and clients operate, and can use it to their advantage. Knowing the sectors of business, who key competitors are and associated issues are essential.
Commercial awareness is a critically important skill, and one that all employers look for. CAs have a key role to play in offering insight and intelligence, often at a strategic level, and demonstrate commercial awareness in client dealings to drive business forward.
If you don't already do so, keep up-to-date with the industry you work in. Read the trade press and attend conferences and events relevant to you where possible. Keep an eye on your competitors, and remember that social media can be an excellent source of information, as well as a place to network with your peers.
Ethics and professionalism
With so much in the news about financial mismanagement in organisations and breaches of ethical codes and standards, CAs find themselves under the ethical spotlight more than ever before. Upholding strong ethical values is a core attribute for a successful CA.
This is about being able to take an enquiring, questioning approach, and not always accepting information at face value. CAs need to be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture, and apply a healthy dose of professional scepticism to their work – looking behind the figures to get to the truth.
The ICAS motto 'Quaere Verum' or 'seek the truth' should be at the heart of every CA's approach.
Be willing to question situations when you have cause for concern. As your career progresses you will develop a stronger professional network – it's helpful to have someone in that network who you can speak to in confidence to sense check your thoughts or concerns.
It goes without saying that CAs must know their numbers inside out. However, the ability to analyse and make decisions based on those numbers is critically important for CAs.
A CA with good analytical skills has the ability to solve complex problems using a logical informed decision-making, using different sources of information to support their chosen approach. The ability to use 'big data' is a key development in business, and something that good CAs are already well aware of.
The sheer volume and availability of information and data can be overwhelming. However, CAs who can interpret and use this data to drive their business (or their clients' business) forward will have a strong competitive advantage.
Use your understanding of the business and its aims to be selective about the numbers you are going to work with, rather than applying every analytical technique you have learned.
CAs are often an integral part of an organisation's strategic top team. Not only do they need to work effectively with people who have similar skills, but as they become more strategic, they also need to collaborate across different departments and business functions, working on multi-disciplinary teams with external clients as well.
It can be useful to get some feedback on your teamwork skills from the people you work with. You could ask your team or clients for some confidential feedback about your approach at the end of a project or specific piece of work.