Accounting officers work for private and public organizations, where they ensure the integrity and reliability of financial information. Their work involves supervising the preparation of financial statements, inspecting accounting systems and supporting auditing processes. Accounting officers typically have a bachelor's degree in accounting, a Certified Public Accountant credential, strong math skills and the ability to pay close attention to detail.
Compiling Financial Information
Accounting officers produce financial information organizations need to make financial decisions. This typically includes preparing monthly, quarterly and annual balance sheets and income statements that reflect an organization's financial position and performance. The officer then submits the reports to the chief accounting officer or another senior accountant. To prepare accurate financial statements, accounting officers must review and correct errors in day-to-day financial entries and ensure accounting clerks properly file financial documents such as invoices, cash receipts and credit memos.
Implementing Accounting Procedures
When an organization adopts new accounting procedures, accounting officers must implement them. For instance, if a shopping mall decides to make bank deposits as soon as it reaches $10,000 in sales, the accounting officer monitors the mall's cash inflow and prepares the money to be deposited as soon as the target is reached. If a manufacturing plant that used to pay its equipment maintenance contractors as soon as a service is rendered decides to start making payments a month later, the accounting officer communicates this change to the contractors and oversees the change in his company's payment system.
Ensuring Regulatory Compliance
Another duty of accounting officers is to ensure the organization's accounting activities adhere to relevant laws and standards. Officers working in a federal government agency, for instance, must operate within the standards set by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board. When an agency withholds money meant for suppliers, the accountants must ensure the money is deposited into a deposit fund account. In small businesses, accounting officers must remit sales taxes to local and/or state agencies in a timely fashion.
Giving Support to Auditors
Auditing is an independent examination of an organization's accounting systems, records and reports. During this process, accounting officers may be required to lend a hand. For example, when an external auditor is unable to trace certain accounting reports or documents, the officers must be ready to help find the documents. If the auditor is not familiar with the company’s accounting software, the accounting officer can help him operate it.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Accountants and Auditors
- Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board: FASAB Handbook of Federal Accounting Standards and Other Pronouncements, as Amended
- Bureau of the fiscal Service: Chapter 4700: Agency Reporting Requirements for the Financial Report of the United States Government
- America's Job Exchange: Accounting Managers
- Photo Credit Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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