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Your All-In Guide to Becoming an Accounting Manager

The Accounting Manager plays an important role not only in managing the accounting team, but also in owning the month-end close process. Accounting Managers oversee and maintain financial records, prepare and publish a number of documents, including profit and loss statements, balance sheets and sales reports, and prepare schedules for year end taxes. Often, Accounting Managers report directly to the company’s CFO or Financial Controller and manage a number of Staff Accountants.

Accounting Manager Responsibilities

  • Manage the month-end close process, including the review of journal entries, account reconciliations, and supporting schedules
  • Perform financial statement analyses and work closely with business partners to explain fluctuations to support business decisions
  • Lead accounting projects, including the design and implementation of key finance systems, internal controls, global close efficiency, audit readiness, and management reporting
  • Manage outsourced vendors and find opportunities to outsource activities or processes
  • Support business leaders in completing special projects, ad-hoc reporting, and strategic analysis as requested
  • Mentor, teach, and review the work of other members of the accounting team

Accounting Manager Qualifications

  • BS/BA in Finance, Accounting, Economics, or similar (MBA is a plus)
  • 5+ years of experience professional experience in accounting
  • Advanced Excel (V-Lookup and Pivot Tables)
  • High degree of organization, initiative, attention to detail, and flexibility to accommodate deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Team player
  • Enterprise-level software planning systems

Accounting Manager Salary

Accounting Manager Salary New York Average: $100,000

Accounting Manager Salary Range: $70,000 – $130,000

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Accounting Manager Job Description: What Does an Accounting Manager Do?

The Accounting Manager is responsible for a number of tasks related to tracking a company’s money. An Accounting Manager should be detail-oriented, familiar with tax regulations and able to effectively communicate with employees and upper-level management. Take a look at some of the tasks Accounting Managers are responsible for.

Managing Accounting Functions

Accounting Managers oversee the accounting functions of a company; this is no surprise. These functions can include ledger maintenance, revenue and asset accounting, accounts payable and accounts receivable. The Accounting Manager is also responsible for managing reporting, such as sales and inventory reports, balance sheets and profit and loss statements.

Preparing Tax Documents

In addition to accounting functions, Accounting Managers are looked to for overseeing the preparation of tax documents, especially for year-end taxes. They often prepare schedules and file for state and federal taxes.

Managing Accounting Staff

Accounting Managers are the leaders of the Accounting Department. This means they are responsible for ensuring department goals are met and projects are completed while adhering to approved budgets. Managing the department goes hand-in-hand with managing individual accounting employees, such as Staff Accountants. Accounting Managers act as mentors and managers, ensuring that their employees are completing tasks and performing well.

Analyzing Finances and Improving Systems

Accounting Managers aren’t only expected to make sure accounting functions are completed, they also need to make sure processes in the department are efficient and beneficial to the company. Having the ability to analyze finances and make improvements to processes is key. Since Account Managers often work with the CFO and other company leaders, they should be able to communicate complex ideas in a clear, efficient manner.

Managing Company Audits

Planning and completing company audits is another process Accounting Managers are expected to take on. This includes identifying internal process risks, evaluating operating controls and practices, and documenting audit results. Once the audit is complete, Accounting Managers create reports and present recommendations for improvement to top-level managers.

5 Accounting Manager Interview Questions & Answers to Prep You for the Interview

Interviews have a tendency to be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. But being well-prepared builds confidence and makes the whole interviewing process a little less stressful. Take a look at these five Accounting Manager interview questions and how to go about answering them.

  1. Describe an accounting process you’ve developed or improved.

Why it’s asked: As an Accounting Manager, you’re expected to continue developing and improving processes rather than just working within them. Hiring Managers need to see that you’re forward-thinking and innovative.

How to answer: Practice describing a specific process you’ve developed or improved in a clear, succinct way. Highlight key takeaways without diving too far into unnecessary details or company-specific jargon. If you don’t have experience in this area, talk about what you like about the processes you’ve used or how you would change them if given the opportunity.

  1. How do you minimize the risk for errors?

Why it’s asked: Accounting mistakes can be detrimental to a company. It’s important to know what steps you take to ensure accuracy.

How to answer: Talk through the steps you take before submitting reports and other accounting documents. This likely will include checking your work or having a checks and balances system with your team. You can also describe a time when you caught an error before submitting work.

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to explain a complex accounting situation to someone without an accounting background.

Why it’s asked: Accounting Managers need to be able to explain department issues or goals to company leaders and managers from different departments. You’ll need to be able to make your point in a way that people across departments can understand.

How to answer: Within your answer, be sure to emphasize your communication skills along with your ability to be a team player. You could explain a situation in which there was an accounting issue involving a different department and how you went about contacting that department manager to resolve it. You could also talk about a time when you had to convince an executive, emphasizing any reports or graphs used to state your case.

  1. What do you consider the biggest challenge facing the accounting profession?

Why it’s asked: Hiring Managers want to know if you are able to see the big picture rather than just the small details of your job. This role requires someone who can take initiative to make changes and have the foresight to overcome obstacles.

How to answer: There is no right answer, here. The point is to make sure you are engaged in your profession. As long as you are up-to-date on current industry events, you should be able to give a well-thought-out answer.

  1. How do you monitor the performance of your team?

Why it’s asked: Accounting Managers need to be able to manage employees just as well as they can manage processes. You need to be able to demonstrate your value as a leader.

How to answer: Talk through management methods you use to ensure that department goals are met. Describe how you motivate your team and how you manage difficult conversations with individuals who give low performances.

How to be an Effective Accounting Manager

Positioning yourself in higher-level accounting roles will result in you managing more responsibilities and more people. If you’re new to a management position, understanding how to get the most out of those working under you can take time. Even veteran managers need to step back and evaluate their managing styles on occasion.

Wondering how to best manage your team? Take a look at these tips on how to be an effective manager.

Make Objectives Clear

Creating specific goals for your employees and making these goals clear will help guide the focus of your team. Objectives should be measurable and tailored to each employee, giving them direction without the need to micro-manage. Defining goals at the beginning of the year gives both you and your employees business objectives to work toward and talking points during team meetings and check-ins.

Set High Expectations

Demand excellence of your employees by setting high, yet attainable, standards. This doesn’t mean you need to be overly harsh or strict; simply treat your employees with respect and encourage them to only turn in their best work. Setting high expectations shows your team that you think highly of them and the work they are capable of producing. Refusing to accept less than an employee’s best fosters a work environment that takes pride in good work and pushes toward self-improvement.

Communicate Often

Communicating regularly with your team can (and should) be done without checking work or micromanaging tasks. Simply making it known that you’re available to talk about objectives, roadblocks or new ideas is enough to create a positive, open work environment. Being upfront about  things that might be difficult to discuss, such as compensation, layoffs, interpersonal issues, and other internal conflicts can also build trust and ease any discomfort that comes with manager-employee relationships. Giving both positive and negative constructive feedback is another way to keep communication lines open with your team.

Make Time for Your Objectives

While managing a team can take a lot of time and effort, it isn’t the only responsibility managers have. Be sure to take the necessary time to complete your own work and meet goals set for yourself. It’s easy to adopt a reactive work style as a manager and take care of issues or asks as they arise. Prevent this by blocking off time each week during which you can focus on work without being disturbed. Prioritizing and delegating work can also help you make time for your own projects.

Be Open to New Ideas

Encourage your team to come to you with new ideas, and when they do, listen. Don’t get stuck in the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset; the most effective managers are flexible and on the lookout for new opportunities.

Act as a Mentor

Some of the best managers are those who can see their employees beyond current roles. As a manager, you should be mindful of the fact that your Staff Accountant might not want to stay in that position forever. Take an interest in your employees’ career aspirations and direct them on how to get there. If possible, assign tasks and objectives that align with their career goals. Encourage them to attend trainings or attain certificates that can benefit their futures. Taking an interest in the development of team members builds trust and motivates them to do quality work.

This guide to Accounting Manager was created by the Vested team. If you are interested in an Accounting Management role, please join us to get matched with opportunities at one of our partner companies.