Must Have Excel Skills for Accounting & Finance Professionals

If you work in the accounting or finance fields, you are almost guaranteed to spend some time in Microsoft Excel. This quintessential spreadsheet program has remained relevant for decades, mainly due to its flexibility, versatility, and user-friendly design. Excel can also provide data-driven insights that can help facilitate business decisions and client recommendations. Plus, it has calculation capabilities built-in, making it extremely convenient in a wide range of scenarios. However, to work as an accounting or finance professional, you do need to understand some of Excel’s more advanced capabilities. If you want to ensure career success, here are a few Excel skills you must have.Formulas and FunctionsExcel’s mathematical capabilities are what helped the program rise to prominence in the fields of accounting and finance. Having a firm grasp of the available formulas and functions is a must for accounting and finance professionals. If you aren’t comfortable with them, it’s wise to increase your skill level to help you advance your career.Pivot Table AnalysisPivot tables and pivot charts allow accounting and finance professionals to gain meaningful insights from data. They can access multiple information sources and support a deep dive into the data. Being able to perform a pivot table analysis should be seen as an essential Excel skill for anyone working in a finance-oriented role.Charts and VisualizationsAt times, trying to derive meaning from rows and columns full of numbers is a challenge, particularly if you are dealing with a substantial amount of data. Charts and visualizations help make the information more accessible by creating a graphical presentation of the data. This not only helps with analysis but also with showing the data to another party, especially those who may not be as familiar with financial concepts.Conditional FormattingWith conditional formatting, you can adjust the look of particular cells based on whether they meet certain conditions, making it easier to track critical details or examine the spreadsheets for specific information. For example, outgoing payments (represented by negative amounts on a balance sheet) could be displayed in red, meaning the number is negative. Similarly, approaching due dates can be color-coded or bolded to draw attention to the cells.Ultimately, all the Excel skills listed above should be considered must-haves for any accounting or finance professional. If you would like to know more or are seeking new employment opportunities, the team at The Squires Group can help. Contact us to discuss your career goals with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our accounting and finance industry expertise can benefit you.

Why Excel is Important for Accounting Professionals ?

Microsoft Office Excel was designed to support accounting functions such as budgeting, preparing financial statements, and creating balance sheets. It comes with basic spreadsheet functionality and many functions for performing complex mathematical calculations. It also supports many add-ons for activities such as modeling and financial forecasting, and seamlessly integrates with external data to allow you to import and export banking information and financial data to and from other accounting software platforms. It helps accountants in : Budgeting and StatementsMicrosoft Office Excel ships with templates for creating budgets, cash-flow statements, and profit-and-loss statements, which are some of the most basic documents used in accounting. In addition, you can download more complex budgeting and statement templates from the Office website, or purchase specialized templates from third-party vendors and install these in the application.SpreadsheetsPerforming line calculations is a basic accounting task, and Excel spreadsheets are designed to contain data in a tabular format that supports both in-line and summation calculations, replacing the need for ticker tape and special accounting calculators. The data in the spreadsheet is reusable and storable, making Excel more flexible than an accounting calculator for performing simple calculations and summations.External DataYou can import data from many different data sources into Excel. This is especially useful for accounting as you can pull sales data, banking data, and invoices from many sources into one central workbook to support your accounting activities. The data can be stored in different databases and file formats prior to importing, allowing you to access data from many different areas of your business without having to do additional data entry.IntegrationExcel integrates with many popular accounting software applications. For example, you can use the wizards that ship with your preferred accounting software package to map Excel spreadsheets to your accounting data so you can perform push and pull data operations from both Excel and your accounting package on demand.

How to become an Excel Pro?

Without a doubt, an Excel spreadsheet is one of the most advanced tools for working with raw data—and one of the most feared.  The application looks complicated, way too advanced, and like something that would take hours to figure out.I wouldn’t be surprised if upon hearing that you had to start using MS Excel, your heart started to pound. Is there any way to make Microsoft Excel less scary and intimidating? Yes. By learning a few spreadsheet tricks, you can bring Excel down to your level and start looking at the application in a different light.  We rounded up some of the simplest yet powerful MS Excel spreadsheet tips you can start using on your data.Use MS Excel Format PainterSelect the cell with the formatting you wish to replicateGo to the Home menu and click on the Format Painter. Excel will display a paintbrush next to the cursor.Using Excel Format Painter While that paintbrush is visible, click to apply all of the attributes from that cell to any other.To format a range of cells, double-click the Format Painter during step 1. This will keep the formatting active indefinitely. Use the ESC button to deactivate it when you’re done.Select Entire Spreadsheet Columns or RowsAnother quick tip– use the CTRL and SHIFT buttons to select entire rows and columns.Click on the first cell of the data sequence you want to select.Hold down CTRL + SHIFTThen use the arrow keys to get all the data either above, below, or adjacent to the cell you’re in.You can also use CTRL + SHIFT + *   to select your entire data set.Import Data Into Excel CorrectlyThe benefit of using is Excel is that you can combine different types of data from all kinds of sources.  The trick is importing that data properly so you can create Excel drop-down lists or pivot tables from it.Don’t copy-paste complex data sets. Instead, use the options from the Get External Data option under the Data tab. There are specific options for different sources. So use the appropriate option for your data:Importing Data to ExcelEnter The Same Data Into Multiple CellsAt one point, you may find yourself needing to enter the same data into a number of different cells. Your natural instinct would be to copy-paste over and over again. But there’s a quicker way:Select all the cells where you need the same data filled in (use CTRL + click to select individual cells that are spread across the worksheet)In the very last cell, you select, type in your dataUse CTRL+ENTER.  The data will be filled in for each cell you selected.Display Excel Spreadsheet FormulasJumping into a spreadsheet created by someone else? Don’t worry. You can easily orient yourself and find out which formulas were used. To do this, use the Show Formulas button. Or you can use CTRL + `  on your keyboard. This will give you a view of all formulas used in the workbook.Freeze Excel Rows And ColumnsThis is a personal favorite of mine when it comes to viewing lengthy spreadsheets. Once you scroll past the first 20 rows, the first row with the column labels annoyingly disappear from view and you begin to lose track of how the data was organized. Freezing Excel Columns RowsTo keep them visible, use the Freeze Panes feature under the View menu. You can opt to freeze the top row or if you have a spreadsheet with numerous columns, you can opt to freeze the first column.Enter Data Patterns InstantlyOne great feature of Excel is that it can automatically recognize data patterns. But what’s even better is that Excel will let you enter those data patterns into other cells. Simply enter your information in two cells to establish your pattern.Highlight the cells. There will be a small square in the bottom right-hand corner of the last cell. Excel Data PatternsPlace your cursor over this square until it becomes a black cross. Then click and drag it with your mouse down to populate the cells within a column entering Spreadsheet Data PatternsHide Spreadsheet Rows and ColumnsIn some cases, you may have information in rows or columns that are for your eyes only and no one else’s. Isolate these cells from your work area (and prying eyes) by hiding them:Select the first column or row in the range you want to hide.Go to Format under the Home menu.Select Hide & Unhide>Hide Rows or Hide Columns. Hiding Excel Rows ColumnsTo unhide them, click on the first row or column that occurs just before and after the hidden range. Repeat steps 2 and 3, but select Unhide Rows or Unhide Columns.

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