Daily Life of an Accountant: Things that you need to know
Every company needs an accountant, whether it is in-house or outsourced from an accounting firm.
WHAT IS AN ACCOUNTANT
Every company needs an accountant, whether it is in-house or outsourced from an accounting firm. This position requires analytical thinking, organizational skills, and the ability to manage deadlines.
An accountant has many responsibilities in maintaining the financial health of an organization. Day to day responsibilities usually includes examining data, auditing and reviewing financial statements. Daily tasks tend to vary depending on what needs to be prioritized in order to meet company deadlines.
Some of many responsibilities include:
- Preparation of monthly and/or annual reports and financial statements
- Maintain the general ledger
- Keeping up to date with the latest tax laws and regulations
- File taxes in a timely manner
- Issuing financial statements (balance sheets, income statements, statement of cash flows)
- Record business transactions
- Report company performances
- Issue invoices
- Manage payroll
- Record, compile, and present financial info
- Bill customers, collect payments, pay vendors and employees, reconcile bank accounts, create budgets, participate in business decisions
- Make sure that financial reporting deadlines met internally and externally
- Manage financial records and ensure that they are in compliance with the law
- Analyzes financial data and resolve discrepancies and irregularities
- Accounts Receivable/Accounts Payable
- Communicate with external auditors
- Report in accordance with GAAP (for example: JGAAP, USGAAP)
- Find ways to reduce costs and improving revenue
TYPES OF ACCOUNTANTS
Because there is a wide range of responsibilities that an accountant can cover, larger companies might have their own departments that specialize in one function (for example: tax accounting, management accounting, financial accounting, etc.). And in some smaller companies, accountants may cover the majority of the responsibilities themselves or outsource their accounting.
Some types of specialized accountants include:
- Management accountants - More forward thinking as it involves forecasting and cost reporting based on a budget. It combines accounting, finance, management. Besides having responsibilities similar to financial accountants, they focus on internal stakeholders by preparing reports for internal review and creates a plan to improve the company’s financial performance. Financial information is analyzed to make business decisions.
- Financial accountants - Prepares financial statements based on historical information. Such as, profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
- Tax accountants - Mainly focuses on tax related work and ensures that everything follows the latest tax regulations and laws.
- Cost accountants - Determines the actual costs associated with providing a service or manufacturing a product. Data compiled by cost accountants are used to create a budget, and to increase profitability by identifying which products are most profitable. Because materials have to be purchased in creating a product, cost accountants tend to be more common and sought after in the automotive/manufacturing industry.
ACCOUNTANTS vs FINANCIAL ANALYSTS
If you were to think of the difference between the two in simple terms, a financial analyst looks into the future and an accountant looks more to the past. Financial analysts think of ways to improve the companies’ financial performance by planning future transactions and analyses data to project new trends in order to increase the accuracy in the decisions for investment opportunities. Accountants take care of daily financial operations and reports on past financial transactions such as maintaining financial records and filing taxes.
HOW TO MOVE UP IN THE INDUSTRY
Bilingual candidates are highly sought after and improving one’s language skills is a good step into entering the field of international companies. Besides gaining experience in the industry, obtaining various certifications such as CPA, ACCA and MBA are also ways to boost your chances in moving up in the industry. Depending on the industry, some require specific skill sets. For example, automotive/manufacturing industry prefers cost accounting experience. Also having knowledge of various softwares are beneficial, such as how to use SAP and other common ERPs.
So, what is a CPA?
Certified Public Accountant - Someone who passed a 4 part examination and had met other education and work related requirements. There are four sections: Regulation, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Business Environment and Concepts, and Auditing and Attestation. As it takes many hours and requirements to fulfill, this certification requires commitment. It is not required to have to be a successful accountant, but having this certification opens up many more job opportunities. Some companies may even offer study support by covering a part of the expenses, offering days off for study, and rewards for passing the CPA. And as more advanced opportunities open up, CPA’s tend to get a higher pay than non certified professionals.
HOW WE CAN HELP YOU
If you are already an accountant looking for new opportunities or someone looking to move into an accounting role, you can reach out to us here at Morgan McKinley Tokyo. And even if you are a financial analyst looking to move into an accounting role, the transition is possible and we can support you with your career.
Right now, the job market is quite strong since many companies are actively searching for experienced accountants. So, what are you waiting for?
And if you would like to know more about the market or get advice, feel free to contact one of the consultants on the Finance and Accounting team here in Tokyo.