What Does a Corporate Accountant Do? (And How to Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 15, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Corporate accounting is a branch of accounting that deals with the financial and accounting aspects of an organization or corporation. Corporate accountants manage financial and accounting related tasks, such as creating financial statements and fiscal reports and monitoring the cash flow, expenditures, the flow of revenue, and capital resource allocations. Understanding "What does a corporate accountant do?" can help you decide if it's a suitable career path for you. In this article, we discuss the duties of a corporate accountant, identify relevant skills for success, and outline the steps for how to become one.

What does a corporate accountant do?

You may wonder, "What does a corporate accountant do?" in an organization. Here's a list of their duties and responsibilities:

Maintain company accounts

A corporate accountant is primarily responsible for maintaining the accounts of an organization. They often achieve this in collaboration with other professionals in the company. For instance, they can collaborate with the head of departments to determine departmental expenses incurred during an operating period. Generally, they monitor the revenue and expenses of an organization and provide a detailed overview for management decisions.

Often this can involve expense management and payroll processing, depending on the organization's size. With expense management, they're responsible for approving expense requests from other employees and processing invoices. With payroll processing, they calculate staff salaries, manage retirement account distributions, handle taxes, and disburse overtime compensations.

Prepare financial statements

Corporate accountants are responsible for preparing and cross-checking an organization's financial statements and bookkeeping activities. The accountants accumulate financial reports, data, books, expenditures, and other information from divisional accountants. After getting this information, they prepare the organization's financial statements and send them over to the management team to analyze them. For instance, they can prepare the group's consolidated quarterly management reports.

Prepare the organization's budget

Companies set targets at the start of each year, hoping they can accomplish those targets by the end of the year. An important aspect of meeting those targets is creating a budget to allocate resources effectively and maintain optimum productivity. The accountant goes through the financial statements, data, and the performances of all departments to create a budget that can help the company meet the targets. Then, the accountants collaborate with other managers to improve adherence to these budgets.

Related: Accountant vs. Auditor: Differences and Similarities

Liaise with other professionals

Corporate accountants are responsible for liaising with other professionals to ensure the company's financial health. For instance, they can supervise junior accounting employees to discharge their duties and responsibilities. They can also liaise with internal and external auditors to ensure that a company adhere to relevant financial obligations regarding reporting and recording its activities.

Provide strategic support

Corporate accountants also provide strategic support to the executive and management teams. For instance, they provide appropriate commentary on financial documents to help the team understand its financial performance. They can then advise the executive team on strategies to improve financial performance and health. Beyond this, they can complete business forecasting, where they help companies prepare for future activities by optimizing current operations. Finally, they support data-driven decision-making in a company across investment or projects choices.

Essential skills for a corporate accountant

Here are some essential skills corporate accountants require to perform their functions:

Critical thinking

As a corporate accountant, it's essential for you to possess critical thinking skills to make important financial analyses. For instance, you can adapt your critical thinking skills to interpret financial documents and provide commentary to improve productivity. Critical thinking skills can also help you ensure financial accuracy by streamlining contact points for misinformation. In this case, you can determine reports that often include mistakes and create quality assurance mechanisms to avoid them.

Read more: Why Critical Thinking Is Important In the Workplace

Accounting skills

These skills include a wide range of technical skills required to complete your accounting tasks. Examples include analytical, logical, and mathematical skills. For instance, your mathematical skills are important when creating and computing the figures on your financial documents. You can also apply your analytical skills to interpret financial statements.

Detail-oriented

A detail-oriented professional is one with strong attention to detail. This involves the ability to pay close attention to minute details to ensure data accuracy. For example, attention to detail is important for corporate accountants when preparing financial statements. As accuracy is mandatory for regulatory compliance, it's vital corporate accountants can consider the effect of every figure, no matter how small in financial documents. This can also help the company have an accurate reflection of its financial performance.

Communication skills

Accountants often interpret financial documents, particularly for colleagues in other departments less familiar with accounting principles and jargon. Both verbal and written communication skills are critical for success in any accounting role. Whether you're writing or speaking, presenting information about the business in ways others can understand is important. You can improve your communication skills by practising regularly or taking specialized courses.

Leadership abilities

Leadership skills involve a wide range of abilities. This can include the capacity to resolve conflicts, adapt well to change, mentor others, and embrace continuous learning. As a corporate accountant often works as part of a team or collaborates with the management team, leadership abilities are vital. They can employ this skill to manage junior accountants and support executive decisions.

Technological expertise

With advancements in software, cloud computing, and automation, accountants are working with new technologies all the time. It's important to gain familiarity and enhance your expertise with the specific software and tools employers require. For instance, it's important to gain proficiency using spreadsheet tools to help you complete financial analysis easily.

Time management skills

Time management involves managing your time by prioritizing and efficiently balancing your responsibilities. This ensures you can complete your tasks on time while maintaining a balance between work and life. As you spend your time working on various tasks with competing deadlines, it's important to have effective time management skills. You can develop these skills using organizational and scheduling tools.

Read more: Why Is Time Management Important? And How to Manage Your Time

How to become a corporate accountant?

You can follow these steps for how to become a corporate accountant:

1. Understand corporate accounting

Corporate accounting refers to accounting activities within an organization or a company. As a corporate accountant, you often work in non-accounting firms and provide accounting services to them. It involves maintaining the organization's financial statements and records, creating reports on the spending and revenue of the organization, and ensuring that the organization's finances comply with relevant regulations. Understanding corporate accounting can help you decide if it's a path you want to follow.

Related: The Differences Between A Bookkeeper and An Accountant: A Review

2. Complete a bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement, majoring in accounting, finance, or any related field. You can also complete a master's program in business administration or accounting. Doing this can give you a competitive edge when applying for a position in any company. When completing the relevant degree, it's vital that you maintain a good CCGPA and complete relevant coursework.

3. Gain experience

Experience is an essential requirement for a corporate accountant. Having a good amount of experience in the industry showcases that you have the expertise to complete your tasks when employed. This can improve your competitive edge, especially when companies require specialized employees. For instance, prior experience in revenue recognition can improve your chances if a company requires a corporate accountant that can help it increase its profits and revenue.

You can gain experience through an internship during your undergraduate program. It's important to select an industry of your interest and apply for an internship position there. It's also an effective means to network and gain relevant business connections. Remember that accounting professionals who possess strong business acumen can help develop strategy, inform key decisions, and serve as business partners across multiple departments, making them desirable.

4. Get certifications

You can get relevant certifications that improve your employability. These certifications equip you with specialized knowledge and skills that can improve your performance. For example, you can consider Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and Certified Management Accountant (CMA). Research their respective requirements to determine if you can pursue them.

Related: 13 Types of Accountants and What They Do

5. Apply for a job

You can finally apply for a job in any industry of your choice. This involves preparing a resume, writing a cover letter, and attending an interview. It's vital that your resume is clear and concise and highlights your most relevant qualifications. You can then provide more background to your competencies using your cover letter. Your interview allows you to demonstrate your suitability for the role by responding to some questions. It's important to prepare for the interview by researching common questions and appropriate answers.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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