What is OPEX and what does an OPEX Accountant do?

OPEX is the operational expenditure which is incurred by a company in carrying out its day-to-day activities, but not directly associated with production. Operating expenses include payroll, sales commissions, employee benefits and pension contributions, transport and travel, amortisation and depreciation, rent, repairs, and taxes. OPEX is different to CAPEX which is expenditure involved in purchasing capital assets.

OPEX accountants usually report to a finance manager or administration manager. They will support and challenge the operational teams by providing clear and informative reporting, validation of operational expenditure and detailed forecasting. OPEX accountants also undertake financial analysis and produce management reports to assist internal budget holders monitor actual OPEX spend against approved budget.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include:

  • Processing financial transactions and data for operational expenditure, ensuring appropriateness of all inputs and outputs, and completeness, consistency and accuracy of all data
  • Ensuring accounting entries are appropriately classified in accordance with internal policy, accounting standards and nature of expenditure
  • Producing regular financial performance and forecast reports and ensuring reporting is relevant and timely
  • Producing management reports to monitor actual OPEX spend versus budget
  • Investigating financial and tax queries arising from the process and responding to queries from external auditors and internal finance colleagues
  • Developing process improvements and providing ad-hoc analysis for the Finance Manager
  • Partnering with non-finance employees in relation to findings and analysing and investigating variances, summarising data, information and trends

Why are they important?

Successfully reducing operating expenses allows organisations to gain competitive advantage and increase earnings. OPEX Accountants play an important role in cost rationalisation. The insight they provide helps organisations control their costs without compromising the integrity and quality of operations

Skills needed for this role

OPEX accountants require strong reporting and analytical skills with high attention to detail. Excellent communication and negotiation skills are essential, as is the ability to influence people at all levels. They must be pro-active in solving problems and be comfortable challenging current ways of working to improve efficiency and drive improvement.

Strategic Professional Options examinations linked to this role

Advanced Financial Management

Advanced Performance Management

Career opportunities presented by this role

As a qualified accountant with business experience there are opportunities to progress to more senior finance positions, particularly in commercial organisations, such as finance manager and beyond.


High level competencies required include:

  • Advisory and consultancy

    A. Gathers and understands financial and non-financial information to develop complete knowledge of the client business and the environment in which it operates.

    B. Provides expert advice that will add value to the business and gain advantage.

    C. Identify and advise on business partnering to develop strategic relationships to create opportunities, improve performance and solve business problems.

    D. Prepare and present business plans and advise on the actions to implement these plans.

  • 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.

  • Financial management

    A. Links developments in global trade, markets, business practices and the economic environment to required improvements in the financial and risk management of an organisation.

    B. Advises on business asset valuations, capital projects and investments using appropriate analytical qualitative and quantitative techniques.

    C. Identifies, evaluates and advises on alternative sources of business finance and different ways of raising finance.

    D. Communicates and advises on the impact on financial decision making on current developments in regulation, governance and ethics.

    E. Assesses and advises on appropriate strategies to manage business and organisational performance regarding business and finance risk and effectively communicates the impact.

  • Management accounting

    A. Applies development and performance management, in the wider business and technological environment, within the context of strategic planning and implementation.

    B. Directs organisational performance through the selection and measurement of financial and non-financial performance indicators.

    C. Collaborates on the key tactical and organisational areas of budgeting and control, capital investments, people and resource management.

    D. Consults on the design and use of current and emerging technology and information systems to improve strategic decision-making and organisational performance.


  • 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.