Job description for accountants
Accountants are responsible for managing the books of accounts of a company. These books of accounts include ledgers that are necessary from a tax or regulatory perspective as well as various periodic reports which are necessary for internal management. Some examples of such reports include the profit and loss statement, the balance sheet, cash flow statement, purchase ledger, fixed asset register, etc.
The activities that accountants need to perform may be broken down into several broad categories which are described below:
Management and preparation of financial statements
The main activity for accountants is the preparation and management of various financial statements, ledgers, and books of account for the company. Accountants are responsible for the preparation of periodic accounting reporting packages. In addition to the various financial statements, accountants also handle the general ledger which includes things like payments, receivables, bills, etc.
The accounting team leads the effort in making sure that periodic accounting statements are generated in a timely manner and disseminated to management and other departments as per their requirements. They must take ownership of these reports which means seeking input from all the other departments, correcting any errors, performing reconciliations, and formatting and distributing them to the end-users.
Assisting in company operations
The extent to which an accountant is involved in the general operation of the business depends on the business structure of the company. For example, an accountant might be responsible for maintaining the daily purchase ledger, refunds, ad hoc payments, etc. at a small company. The company would not be able to operate daily without someone being responsible for these activities.
Accountants are also expected to assist in the preparation of statutory audits for the organisation as per applicable laws. They prepare and provide relevant data for both internal and external auditors. Ensuring accuracy in this data is of paramount importance and any lapses can lead to significant penalties. Accountants, therefore, need to be aware of all regulatory ramifications of the various line items in the reports. Misclassification of line items or mis-categorisation of certain expenses etc. can be a frequent problem and the accountants must guard against that as well.
Accountants are responsible for collating and submitting statutory and regulatory information. They are also responsible for responding to any ad hoc queries regarding such matters.
Leadership related tasks
Senior executives in the accounting department are responsible for coordinating and managing the deliverables of their departments. This includes things like managing the timely delivery of reports, utilising various systems optimally, improving efficiency and accuracy of the report preparation process, documenting and improving processes, planning and executing daily or weekly tasks to meet deadlines, etc.
Accounting executives are also responsible for training and motivating their departments and coordinating on management level activities and decisions with other departments.
Supporting the finance department
Accountants assist finance managers and the finance department in the fulfilment of their duties as well. This might include things like providing them with periodic statements and data or responding to ad hoc requests. The finance and accounting departments work closely in conjunction with each other since most of their activities overlap or are dependent on each other.
Tasks based on specialisation
There are quite several specialisations within the accounting department and accountants may be expected to focus on one or more of those specialisations. This is usually the case in larger companies where there is enough workload that it needs to be split amongst multiple accounting professionals. For example, the company might have an accountant who is only responsible for managing the accounts receivables of the company. In that case, the accountant would focus specifically on that task, coordinate with others to execute it and report as needed.
There are various other examples of such specialisations like accounts payable, tax-related activities, pension-related accounting, performing valuations, doing reconciliations, consolidating group statements and so on. Accountants may be expected to specialise in just one of these roles or be generalists capable of managing several of these activities.
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