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Accountants are responsible for a range of tasks that include analyzing financial data, preparing financial statements and reports, maintaining various ledgers and records, reviewing expense vouchers and determining payroll requirements. Accountants may also be responsible for auditing financial records, advising individuals or businesses for tax preparation and fulfilling duties as a funds manager. Depending on the level of the position, the accountant may also have management responsibilities and complex assignments.
Common responsibilities of a general accountant include tasks related to financial statements. They must prepare monthly, quarterly and yearly financial statements according to current laws and regulations. In addition, accountants must keep and maintain ledgers, accounts, journals. They will be required to present the financial statements to upper management, investors, auditors and stakeholders. If the accountant is involved with tax related activities, then he must also prepare and file taxes in accordance with the local and federal governments.
Auditors may require an internal accountant to work with them in order to verify that the company’s controls, policies and procedures are in compliance with the law and standard accounting principles. This includes making sure that controls are in place around the reporting process to eliminate or reduce errors and fraud. Detailed procedures should be in place for accountants, ranging from how they should perform their tasks to their decision-making capabilities. Checks and balances should also be in place so that errors are quickly found and chances of fraudulent activities are reduced.
Financial statement analysis is sometimes required of an accountant, especially if a finance department does not exist within the organization. This includes using ratios and formulas to understand and determine the health of the organization, its weaknesses and its possible areas of improvement. For instance, an accountant may find that the inventory turnover ratio is too low, which could mean that it holds onto inventory too long. The company could then order less at a time to reduce inventory costs and have more cash on hand to take advantage of other opportunities.
Expense vouchers, invoices and other fiscal documents must go through accountants in order to be reviewed, included into their records and paid. Higher-level accountants or controllers are usually given authority to approve and pay expense vouchers and invoices without prior approval. They must also provide expense reports and keep accurate record of everything that goes through their department. It is common for offices to require accountants to hold digital records instead of paper, or as a backup in case something should happen.
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