By Jessica Scheck, MBA
What is financial reporting?
A Financial Accountant that works in the financial reporting field performs an essential role in guaranteeing the accuracy of an organization’s financial status as presented in the annual report.
There are four financial statements that are most commonly prepared for use by both internal and external parties: balance sheet, income statement, statement of cash flows, and statement of retained earnings. The aforementioned financial statements combined with critical note disclosures comprise the annual report.
Although the financial statements are the main responsibility of the financial reporting team, there are several other special reports and financial analysis that are required throughout the year.
What does a typical day look like for an accountant in financial reporting?
According to US News, “most accountants and auditors work full-time, and in 2014, one in five worked more than 40 hours a week.”2 Accountants in select fields of accounting will often work more than 40 hours during their busy season.
For example, tax accountants will work extra hours during tax season.
Accountants in the financial reporting field, however, will usually work additional hours immediately following the end of their organization’s fiscal year since that is the time at which the workload is the heaviest.
Otherwise, the standard daily working hours for a Financial Accountant in reporting, outside of a big four firm, are Monday through Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm, with flexibility to adjust your schedule as needed.
Job Responsibilities of the Financial Accountant
The exciting thing about the financial reporting field is that each day is different! There are typically very minimal daily routine duties that a financial reporting accountant is responsible for. A Financial Accountant in this area focuses more on monthly, quarterly, and annual duties such as reconciling various accounts, preparing schedules with variance analysis, and assisting with ad hoc projects.
Although the matter of focus may be constantly changing, there are still specific skills and activities that accountants in financial reporting certainly execute and complete each day:
Communication skills are extremely important in the financial reporting area of accounting. Corresponding through email, phone, and face-to-face meetings is a daily occurrence.
In order to really understand the organization’s operations and identify inconsistencies, financial reporting accountants frequently communicate with a diverse range of employees across multiple departments, including senior level management.
It’s not unusual to also work with auditors after the financial statements have been drafted. Once the financial statement preparation process is complete and the annual report has been issued, accountants in financial reporting often collaborate with IT professionals to work on beneficial system updates or combine efforts with the financial reporting team to streamline business processes and improve efficiencies throughout the organization.
It’s important for accountants in financial reporting to be able to respond to financial inquiries in a timely manner. Proficiency in the use of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets is imperative to working in the financial reporting field.
Financial accountants need to know how to quickly navigate through their organization’s ERP system to pull relevant financial data and perform in-depth research and analysis. Excel spreadsheets are utilized every day, several times a day.
Excel is the greatest tool that accountants use to convert data from an ERP system into useful financial information. Some of the most commonly used Excel functions that benefit accountants include VLOOKUP, Pivot Tables, array formulas, conditional formatting, charts, and macros.
A 2015 Robert Half survey revealed that 41 percent of chief financial officers (CFOS) considered staying current with changing technology to be the greatest pressure facing their accounting and finance teams.1 Paul McDonald, senior director for Robert Half explained, “Companies need accounting and finance staff who are proficient with enterprise resource planning systems, are able to automate financial processes, and can tap business intelligence tools to mine data they can turn into strategic guidance.”1
Accountants are not just responsible for reporting numbers. Daily activities involve collecting information and analyzing it to problem-solve and make educated decisions. Most activities involve questioning, researching, and using analytical problem-solving skills.
Financial reporting accountants are often involved with recording and classifying financial data, but also discover inaccuracies in journal entries posted to the general ledger and offer solutions to ensure proper reporting.
Patty Pogemiller, who is the national director for talent and acquisition and mobility for Deloitte, wrote the following in an email to U.S. News: “Employers are looking for people who demonstrate an ability to think analytically and approach a problem in a structured and methodical way. Can they objectively analyze and solve an issue? And once they have a solution, they must have the ability to communicate it to others.”2
If financial reporting does not seem to be an area that interests you, there are several other specialized fields to consider in the accounting world. Some of the other largest accounting areas include: managerial accounting, cost accounting, budgetary accounting, tax accounting, forensic accounting, and auditing.
- “News Releases.” Robert Half Management Media Room. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2017. http://rhmr.mediaroom.com/technology-biggest-pressure-accounting-and-finance-april-30-2015?_ga=1.165855870.1125259567.1485798559
- S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2017. http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/accountant