Cultural Fit in Accounting

The importance of 'cultural fit' in the accounting world

One of the biggest aspects of the Accounting world is that no matter what position you’re in, you’re guaranteed to be dealing with a lot of internal and external stakeholders.

For example, an Accounts Receivable person is the cash flow of any business. They deal with clients in the market and therefore have to make sure they are communicating in the right way to represent their company well. This is when culture and personality really shine through because they need the skills to build rapport and relationships quickly, in order to recover money in a collections role.

The same can be said for Accounts Payable roles. Granted, a large part of the role is sending out invoices but that involves speaking with a lot of external stakeholders. An Accounts Receivable person will speak to a company’s sales and operations teams, so they will need to have a personality that’s adaptable to all these different and strong characters. Cultural fit then becomes extremely important because they are interacting with so many touchpoints across the wider business.

Similarly, Assistant Accountants would liaise with the transactional accounting staff. They would also often work with management and senior finance teams. Naturally, they need to have really good communication skills and know how to work with and respond to different people within the business.

You can’t teach personality.

Clients are willing to invest more time in training, but you can’t expect someone to change their personality in order to make them fit into an environment. That’s why cultural fit trumps a lot of people in skill-set if you have a good personality and attitude to go with it.

Anytime I’m picking up a job brief, my first question is what soft skills do they want? This helps me paint a picture of who I need to put into that role. Anyone would know this, but if you have one toxic person within a small environment it’s so detrimental to the wider business. It is particularly true for small to medium size businesses where most of my clients are.

And it’s not just the clients. Every candidate I meet with now, I always ask what their top 3 non-negotiables are in the next role. And it’s normally salary or location, but 90% of the time I can guarantee the word ‘culture’ is mentioned. According to our 2018 Market Trends Report, company culture is one of the most important factors for employees looking to move roles, coming only second to salary.

So it works both ways.

The client and candidate are both looking to make sure that they are getting along with their colleagues. Ten years ago it didn’t matter as much, it was all about the skill-set and whether you could do the job, there was no real social aspect. I think now the Melbourne market has definitely flipped so there is a lot more focus on relationship building and networking.

However, candidates still have to have experience.