What is an accounts assistant and what do they do?

Accounts assistants are junior members of a finance team who usually report directly into an accountant, accounting manager or finance manager.

Their role helps to maintain the finance office by providing administrative support to more experienced members of the accounts team. This may include activities such as processing payments and expenses, dealing with invoicing, assisting with credit control and helping prepare financial reconcilliations and reports.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include:

  • Dealing with sales and purchase ledgers and journals.
  • Preparing statutory accounts and financial reports.
  • Calculating and checking payments, amounts and records to ensure they are correct.
  • Investigating discrepancies and reporting on any variances.
  • Managing petty cash transactions and staff expenses.
  • Controlling credit and chasing debt.
  • Reconciling finance accounts and direct debits.
  • Processing of purchase invoices.
  • Reconciling bank and supplier statements.
  • Clearing debit balances and dealing with unallocated payments.
  • Handling communications with clients and vendors via phone, email, and in person.
  • Assisting with audits.

Why are they important?

The duties undertaken by an accounts assistant keep the accounting department running smoothly, ensuring everything is efficiently organised and details are thoroughly checked.

Skills needed for this role

Accounts assistants require attention to detail, a high level of accuracy and strong verbal and written communication skills. They must be organised with good time management and the ability to multitask, as well as being able to work on their own initiative.

Strategic Professional Options examinations linked to this role

Advanced Financial Management

Career opportunities presented by this role

The accounts assistant role is perceived as an entry level or administrative role that can be popular with students working towards their early stage professional exams. With time and experience an accounts assistant can progress to a junior accountant role though this usually requires further qualifications.

Competencies

High level competencies required include:

  • Corporate and business reporting

    A. Prepares financial statements, corporate financial and integrated reports for external stakeholders using appropriate technology.

    B. Leads effective decision making through analysing, evaluating and communicating performance and position of entities.

    C. Prepares financial statements for groups of entities using appropriate technologies.

    D. Monitors, critically evaluates, and advises on the relevant accounting standards, regulations, conceptual and financial reporting frameworks.

  • Data, digital and technology

    A. Identifies strategic options to add value, using data and technology.

    B. Analyses and evaluates data using appropriate technologies and tools.

    C. Applies technologies to visualise data clearly and effectively.

    D. Applies scepticism and ethical judgement to the use of data and data technology.

  • Stakeholder relationship management

    A. Positively develops relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

    B. Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholder.

    C. Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

    D. Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders.

    E. Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations.