5 Qualities International Clients Want When Hiring Accountants and Bookkeepers

Smiling woman takes a call. Getting hired for an international accounting career is made easier when you possess these 5 essential qualities in this post.

What qualities and skills do international clients want when they hire accountants and bookkeepers?
Before we share five essential qualities with you, it’s worth pointing out that these are not fixed.
With curiosity and commitment, we can develop qualities and skills that equip us to make the most out of new opportunities. Just think about what you learned and how you changed since the Covid-19 pandemic reshaped the world of work.
“None of us may be able to reliably work the mute/unmute buttons, but we are all more comfortable connecting, sharing content remotely, and driving outcomes even as we work far apart from each other,” Joe Atkinson, the Chief Products and Technology Officer at PwC, said in an interview with the US-based Financial Executives International.
“Careers today and the careers of tomorrow will require getting comfortable being uncomfortable—a mindset that allows people to explore technology, to ask the ‘stupid’ questions, and explore in a collaborative way with their coworkers what the tech means to the way they do their job.”

Organizational and leadership skills

One quality that keeps coming up when we ask clients what they’re looking for is a combination of organizational and leadership skills.
In 2021, when he couldn’t find locally the senior bookkeeper that his business needed, Rishi Ram decided to try TOA Global’s Accelerator Program. This is a 7-week course where participants get paid to learn about Australian or US accounting standards and are then placed with international clients.
Rishi, who leads the Optima Accountants practice in Brisbane, said that putting clear procedures in place helped the firm make the most out of outsourcing. They were in a strong growth phase and needed to take care of their backlog so they could bring new clients into the practice.
Another condition that helped was the leadership skill his TOA Global team demonstrated. Among the ways leadership is shown at work are problem-solving, dependability, and a sense of responsibility.
By taking care of payroll and then bookkeeping work, their team members in the Philippines helped Rishi’s business by building up capacity, which gave them “more time to focus on upskilling and advisory work.”

Curiosity about tech tools for accounting

When the technology consulting firm Gartner examined job postings for finance and accounting roles from July 2020 to July 2021, one of the 10 most in-demand skills that recruiters mentioned was experience in enterprise resource planning.
This goes beyond the ability to use tools like cloud-based accounting software. Technology will keep on changing, so what’s essential is curiosity: the willingness to pick up new skills.
One easy way to do that is to explore the learning resources available on the website of the accounting software your client uses. This way, you can keep abreast of new features and other product updates, as well as industry movements like mergers.
In the same Gartner study, a related quality prized by recruiters was change implementation: “the ability to design, put in place, or streamline new processes and tasks.”
To support the curiosity and learning needs of our team members, our training division Ab² Institute of Accounting offers industry-recognized courses on specific accounting skills and software.

Communicating clearly in a global team

While an aptitude for number-crunching is important, even more so is the ability to communicate clearly.
When an accountant can draw insights from the numbers and present these precisely, their knowledge informs their clients’ decisions.
Communication skills emerged as one of the “less common, more desired” qualifications when Bloomberg surveyed 1,320 recruiters from more than 600 companies in the US in July-September 2014. This was one of the 5 qualities most important to employers across industries and particularly in financial services.
For Shannon and Jonathan Badger of Badger CPA in Texas, having documented processes, job descriptions with clear expectations, a cloud-based workflow system, and weekly training all support the communication function in their team.
When they tried outsourcing as advised by a consultant, they were pleased by the high quality of candidate resumes they found with us. Their team members are “world-class, very qualified for the work we needed them to do.”
“We have been thrilled with the amount of responsibility that they’ve been able to take on,” Shannon said.
“We started kind of more in the administration and data entry realm but we’re much past that now.” Now, their TOA Global team delivers the same work that their team in the US does, including reviewing financials and direct client communications.
In 2022, their firm was awarded one of the Best Accounting Firms to Work For by Accounting Today and Best Companies Group.

Compliance with better data security practices

One misconception that keeps some accounting firms from outsourcing is that working with an offshore team would place them at a greater risk of data breaches.
The fact is that cybersecurity risks exist for all firms, regardless of where they work. Businesses need to invest in IT solutions as well as train their employees on behavioral changes that support data privacy and security.
To thrive in an international accounting career, practitioners must stay informed about cybersecurity threats and comply with better practices that guard against risks like data breaches.
In 2022, IBM calculated the global average cost of a data breach to be USD4.35 million; it was much higher in the US, where the average cost was USD9.44 million.
At TOA Global, we provide purpose-built platforms with enterprise-grade security, so that all team members and clients can work safely. This is supported by other precautions such as keeping a clean desk, with no access to mobile phones or recording devices in all production areas.
Our client James Devenny, co-founder of Devenny Payne based in Victoria, Australia, has a thought-provoking insight on this issue.
“Why would a person overseas suddenly decide to steal your data? What’s going to make them do that?” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re here in Australia or overseas, someone (potentially) committing theft in the organization is a reality.”
James added: “At the same time, they’ve got a good job with you. They’re earning good money. They’ve got great benefits. Why are they going to jeopardize that? If you treat your team members right, you provide that career path for them, and you provide the training. You show the stability and respect that they deserve, then all the rest of it is superfluous.”

Commitment to learning and sharing knowledge

One of the reasons James’s firm decided to add a global team also highlights one quality that international clients want in their accountants and bookkeepers. And that’s a commitment to learning and sharing knowledge.
At the time they began outsourcing, the firm had been operating for 14 years, with 19 team members onshore and 5 offshore.
What prompted them to outsource in 2012, while they were changing their tech stack, was the thought that by hiring overseas, they would gain local knowledge about new markets.
This, in turn, would empower them to help their clients do business abroad, an ideal situation for a business leader who loves “working with clients and helping people.”
Accounting as a practice continues to change. New tools emerge as much as economic conditions compel new regulations and standards.
As you grow in your accounting career, it would be wise to learn from and with your clients, who will value not just your ability to analyze their business data but also your expertise in their markets.

Your next step

Opportunities to launch an accounting career continue to grow.
The global accounting services market was worth USD573.29 billion in 2021, the Business Research Company pointed out, and is projected to grow to USD735.94 billion in 2025, at a compound annual growth rate of 6.4%.
Even as software creates new opportunities to automate or simplify some tasks, there remains a great demand for accountants who can:

  • Summarize and report financial transactions to tax agencies.
  • Audit and prepare financial statements.
  • Develop budgets and advise their clients on cost management strategies.
  • Design more effective accounting systems.
  • Provide high-level accounting advisory.

If you want a more rewarding accounting career that offers consistent growth opportunities while protecting your work-life balance, explore our opportunities today.

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