What does a Financial Accountant do?
The role of Financial Accountant is to prepare financial reports in order to assess the financial performance of a business. A Financial Accountant is responsible for implementing efficient and diligent financial practices, analysing the economic stability of the company and providing key financial information to other departments. A good Financial Accountant should be able to determine the financial status and success of a business at any given time, so the role plays a key figure within any business of any size.
Fundamental qualities that are required in order to be a successful Financial Accountant, include:
A real aptitude for working with numbers;
Being technically and analytically minded;
Being Process and efficiency driven;
Holding a deep and genuine interest in finances and business;
Possessing strong interpersonal relation skills;
A high attention to detail and accuracy to probe further into data;
Being Deadline-orientated and an ability to stick to time-constraints.
Are there any similar roles to a Financial Accountant?
Although the job titles sound similar, the role of a Financial Accountant differs greatly from that of a Management Accountant as it is solely centralised around the year end, focusing on reporting to demonstrate the overall Year-over-Year (YOY) performance of a business. Typically, a Financial Accountant focuses more on the technical side of accounts such as statutory reporting, costs, tax matters and liaising with external auditors. They will be responsible for creating robust processes for reporting purposes on key financial information to internal and external use.
Management Accountants, however, focus around the month end closure of business accounts, creating the Month End Management Accounts Pack on behalf of the whole team. One of the more strategic aspects of a Management Accountant is to perform financial analysis forecasting to understanding Profit & Loss, budgets and measure the overall performance and financial plans of their company. Typically the person in the role will be responsible for reporting this key financial information to the senior management team to assist in operational decision making.
On occasions, the two roles can cross over but this is very dependent on the size of the company and its finance team. Generally speaking, the larger a team or company the more specialised and niche the roles will tend to be.
How do I become a Financial Accountant?
Individuals can progress into a position as a Financial Accountant from a number of entry routes, all of which have excellent potential for to progressing on to senior levels.
As a starting point, an undergraduate bachelor's degree in the following subjects would be highlighted as particularly advantageous, as this will give you a solid grounding of knowledge and establish your critical thinking skills:
Accountancy or Finance
An alternative to obtaining an undergraduate degree from university is to study the AAT qualification which covers all the main areas of accountancy and tax. To begin your career in an accounts department as an Accounts Assistant/Assistant Accountant or Junior Accountant, whilst studying, is a very popular route for industry led-Financial Accountants. This particular route can help give you essential practical experience in order to learn the hands-on fundamentals of accounting and business while studying for your qualifications.
From either the degree route or the AAT route, you can gain a competitive edge and progress further in your career by studying the ACCA professional qualifications giving you the official status as an Associate of Chartered Certified Accountants.
Another progressive route for successful graduates is to join an Accountancy Practice straight from university where you will work as an Audit Associate and complete reports and produce year-end Audits on multiple companies at any one time. This requires a technical mind and strong organisational skills. Whilst working for the practice, it is very common for an individual to continue studying via the ACA qualifications, which on completion, will give you the official status of an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. Becoming qualified within ACA will give you a great base to build from and is considered to be one the most advanced learning and professional development programmes in Finance.
Typical Job Spec for a Financial Accountant:
The general purpose of a Financial Accountant is to report on the business's yearly performance, prepare year-end financial statements and reports whilst liaising with external auditors. A Financial Accountant will often report into and support a company’s Financial Controller and contribute to the wider Operations team regarding all finance matters.
Core Role and Responsibilities
Preparation of statutory year end reporting; financial statement disclosures, managing audit risks and developing processes to mitigate risk;
Examine and analyse financial information and present findings to senior management;
Managing the annual audit and preparation of year-end statutory accounts;
Liaising with external advisers on accounting matters;
Preparation of period end consolidated Group Board, investor and management reports;
Driving continuous improvement of processes within the finance functions to improve efficiency;
Building value-adding relationships with senior operational management across the business to drive improved financial performance; and
Preparing and submitting VAT returns.
Qualified (ACA/ACCA preferred);
Technically strong, familiar with IFRS and latest accounting standards;
An understanding of consolidation of group accounts and cashflows, managing group cash position;
Experience of statutory reporting for group & divisions;
Experience of implementing effective controls & processes; and
Variety of industry experience in retail or manufacturing.
Inquisitive & highly analytical;
High intellect and attention to detail and accuracy;
Process orientated and highly organised;
Confident on finance matters across the organisation;
Excellent communication skills & able to build relationships at all levels; and
Solution-orientated with a proactive 'can-do' attitude.