Characteristics and Skills Necessary in Accountancy

  •  Susan O'Shea    


The recruitment of accountants poses challenges for accountancy firms. Person-job fit affects success and influences the likelihood of remaining with a firm. With expected growth in the industry addressing these challenges is essential.

This research aimed to determine the characteristics and skills necessary for accountancy and whether current students exhibit these qualities. It was based on Holland’s RIASEC model and characteristics of interest in accountancy including analytical skill, preference for structure, communication and interpersonal skills, risk approach and conscientiousness. Experts in accountancy were interviewed to determine the desired characteristics for the profession. Accountancy students were then surveyed to measure their skills.

Communication skills and enterprising characteristics were the most valued qualities of accountants. Students had a preference for structure and a cautious approach to risk. They had some of the characteristics considered useful in accountancy including conventional and investigative characteristics and conscientiousness. Desirable characteristics varied for different specialisations. While students with specialisation preferences had specific characteristics, these rarely matched those required. Exceptions were preferences for forensic accountancy and tax.

This research makes a theoretical contribution to the application of the RIASEC model to accountancy, suggesting a modification of the pre-existing classifications. Practical implications also arise for employers, students and educators.

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