A senior accountant plays a vital role in the day-to-day operation of any business — from handling budget preparations to analyzing financial data. Adding a senior accountant can help both large and small firms support their clients' or management's financial priorities and improve overall efficiency.
If you're thinking about bringing a senior accountant on board, consider the following:
Senior accountants ensure all accounting tasks are performed correctly and according to GAAP. Some of the most common responsibilities of the position include:
- Reconciling account balances
- Analyzing financial data
- Preparing financial statements
- Preparing budgets
- Assessing risk
- Maintaining and reconciling fixed assets schedules
- Supervising accounting staff
Because senior accountants' primary responsibility is to keep records of all financial transactions, they are often the first to spot errors or identify areas where efficiency and spending can be improved. They can also advise clients and management on financial matters based on their analysis of market trends and expectations.
Not surprisingly, the senior accountant is a highly skilled, competent individual with experience across several areas of the accounting profession. If you are hiring a senior accountant, be on the lookout for candidates with solid communication, organizational and analytical skills, as well as experience with compliance and regulation. Candidates should also have in-depth knowledge of the latest accounting technology and programs, including QuickBooks and Microsoft Dynamics GP. If you're a larger firm, seek out candidates with cloud computing experience.
To ensure that you're hiring a candidate who can keep up with the rigorous demands of the position, look for at least three years of work experience in addition to a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance. As with any accounting position, a CPA or CMA certification gets an extra vote of confidence.
Senior accountants are in high demand, and the search for the right person might take some time. Many companies are still working to reverse the effects of the previous decade's layoffs and hiring freezes by adding new employees, and senior accounting jobs are high on the list of the most sought-after positions to fill.
Adding a senior accountant to your firm will require a fairly sizable investment, because the skills an ideal candidate possesses will command a competitive salary. A starting salary at a small company may be at least $54,000, and at a larger corporation it can be as high as $85,000.
Senior accountants are jacks-of-all-trades in record keeping and compliance. Not only do they have the skills needed to complete tasks themselves, but they also have the experience to supervise other employees and make strategic recommendations. Although adding this position to your firm will take time and money, you'll reap the rewards through increased integrity of your record keeping and improved efficiency.