Question and Answer: Accountant
The primary task for accountants is to maintain the financial records and cash flow data for their companies. Accountants track the trends in company income and assets over a month, a quarter or a year. The financial statements accountants prepare allow business owners and stockholders to determine the companies’ financial strengths and areas for improvement. Although the financial statements only come out periodically, accountants must accomplish several daily tasks to keep these records accurate and up-to-date.
Accountants must gather and collect company financial information from a wide range of sources. They must examine bank statements and reconcile them with general ledger entries. They must examine expense reports submitted by employees and managers. They must determine the status of incoming payments from accounts receivable and outgoing payments from accounts payable. All of this sensitive and vital data must be assembled, collated and organized into a format that allows it to be used in the company’s financial reports.
Daily accounting tasks are not limited to the collection of data. Accountants must also analyze the data and determine what it means for the company’s health. These tasks can include examining financial statements and reports to assess their accuracy, completeness and compliance with the industry’s generally accepted accounting principles. Accountants also scrutinize financial data to understand where a business generates its revenue and incurs its costs. This analysis allows the accountants to communicate with managers and owners to help them find means to increase revenues and reduce costs.
Once the data is assembled and collated, accountants enter the data into sophisticated software programs. Accounting software programs ensure that data from ledger entries is organized and accessible to those who need it. These programs handle such routine tasks as calculations, cross-postings, reconciling bank statements and generating financial reports. Accountants may also spend some time each day examining the capabilities of their software setups and determining if the software meets the company’s changing needs.
One of the most crucial tasks for any accountant is the generation of financial reports. These reports condense the daily information into a standard format that displays the company’s profits, equity and cash flow. Although most financial reports are only generated periodically, the chore of keeping these reports up-to-date goes on daily. Managers, shareholders, government agencies and other groups require that all the information in a company’s financial reports be both accurate and current.