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What is an Accounting Specialist?
Opinions are divided as to whether ” bookkeeping ” is the exact translation for “accounting” or to what extent these activities differ.
Accordingly, Accounting Specialists are not the counterpart to classic bookkeepers, but are available for exclusive tasks in financial accounting. For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that an accounting specialist can in practice be an accountant in the classic sense and is given this title because the employer operates internationally and the job title should be understandable beyond the German-speaking world.
The accounting specialists that this article is about are also deployed in international companies. For their work, however, they require knowledge of both HGB and IFRS. Since both types of accounting often differ significantly due to the different addressees, sound basic knowledge, professional experience and regular training are essential requirements in this position.
Accounting specialists represent the internal control authority and, depending on the company structure and reporting obligations, check the bookings on a monthly or quarterly basis to ensure they are correctly assigned. They also work closely with the auditors in the annual external review of the entire bookkeeping.
They can also be understood as a kind of interface to controlling, which continuously optimizes the processes between the departments through project work and improves communication due to the different perspectives of both areas.
A practical case from accounting can be described as a kind of ongoing project as follows: At the end of each accounting month, software filters out conspicuous or audit-relevant postings and processes. In this context, accounting specialists have two key tasks: On the one hand, they have to check the conspicuous transactions. If there is a need for action, they either correct it themselves or delegate it to the accountants.
Two examples of audit-relevant processes from the day-to-day accounting of a bank:
- Amortizations: Depending on the tax policy pursued (uniform balance sheet or making use of options to increase expenses including the formation of deferred taxes), the results of the HGB and IFRS financial statements may differ. The discount/damnum is the ideal example of this: According to HGB, the difference between the loan granted and the actual payment amount – the discount or the processing fee – can, but must be capitalized and written off over the term of the loan or posted as an expense in its entirety. According to tax law, it must be capitalized and written off over the entire term of the discount. Under IFRS, a loan must be measured and accounted for at amortized cost using the effective interest method,
- Risk provisions: Default risks arise with the allocation and approval of a loan. These must be evaluated according to creditworthiness and country criteria. Corresponding provisions are to be made according to IFRS. However, the HGB does not provide for such a – more realistic – approach.
On the other hand, accounting specialists have to ensure that only postings that are actually incorrect are flagged for verification. They will therefore use their experience and IT knowledge to optimize the checking mechanisms and, if necessary, give accounting instructions and thus contribute to raising awareness of problematic processes.
drivers and challenges
With increasing automation and ever more intelligent systems, experience in dealing with software, for example in the BI area, is becoming an essential part of the knowledge portfolio at Accounting Specialists. A proactive role in the consistent further development of existing systems is becoming more and more important and makes error analysis part of the development process.
In recent years, the deadlines for the publication of quarterly and annual financial statements have been shortened and sanctioned more severely in the event of non-compliance. As a result, the time it took to create the reports decreased as stakeholder demands increased. It is all the more important to ensure high-quality work with quantitatively increasing throughput numbers. Accounting Specialists can therefore deliver top performance even under time pressure and contribute their work to the respective deals on time.
Due to the ever-increasing demands on IT and reporting mentioned above, good process management has become essential for the entire area of finance and accounting. Empathy in both IT and accounting issues is just as important as an engaging demeanor and, last but not least, assertiveness.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Degree in business administration with a focus on accounting/controlling
- Starting salary: €42,000
- Top salary: €68,300
- Opportunities for advancement: Management as team leader for financial accounting and then as department head for accounting
What does an Accounting Specialist do?
- Participation in the preparation of monthly, quarterly and annual financial statements
- Clarification/evaluation of accounting issues in both HGB and IFRS
- Project work in the context of IT and accounting optimization
- Ad hoc analyzes for internal and external interested parties
- Account reconciliation and account clarification
- Experience in the preliminary work on the internal control system (ICS)
How to become an Accounting Specialist
After completing their studies, accounting specialists have worked in the field of accounting for around five years. Classic bookkeepers can also develop into accounting specialists with appropriate further training or studies.
Accounting Specialists will find the following competencies in their requirement profile, among others:
- or financial studies or commercial training with relevant professional experience
- Sound knowledge of financial accounting with good to very good knowledge of accounting standards according to HGB and IFRS
- Safe handling of MS Office (especially Excel) as well as often common ERP systems as well as more and more in the BI area
- good English knowledge
What does an Accounting Specialist earn?
up to €68,300
Accounting Specialists receive a gross annual salary of between €42,000 and € 68,300. Professional experience, company size, industry, the specific range of tasks and last but not least your own negotiating skills are the biggest influencing factors for the individual salary.
What do you expect from the Accounting Specialist?
Accounting Specialists think analytically and result-oriented above all. You know about the differences between HGB and IFRS financial statements and the resulting effects on earnings. They work through their workload in a timely and binding manner and do not allow themselves to be disturbed by unforeseen events.
The increasingly complex IT landscape and the enormous impact of even the smallest changes in the system harbor risks that must be kept in mind and evaluated accordingly. As an intermediary between IT and accounting, accounting specialists need to have a sure instinct for software and colleagues. They can be used as innovation drivers in change processes as well as contact persons for auditors in the case of financial statements.
Opportunities for advancement as an Accounting Specialist
As an accounting specialist, the classic career path leads from team leader to head of accounting department. The way to the top, to CFO, is also possible.
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