General accountants gather and analyze financial records and documentation for a variety of purposes, including writing financial reports, compiling profit statements, filling out tax returns, and making budgets. General accountants are typically either self-employed or work for accounting firms with which businesses contract.
General accountants who have ongoing relationships with companies and individuals typically provide a range of services. At the close of every month, general accountants make sure that their clients’ financial documentation for the preceding month are complete. They then produce a variety of documentation, including balance sheets, profit statements, cash-flow statements, and summaries of equity. During tax season, they also typically prepare business and personal income tax returns and file them. General accountants also provide specialized, ad hoc services, such as general financial audits and predictive financial analyses.
General accountants typically work full time during regular business hours in an office environment. However, accountants often put in overtime as budgets or other statements are due, and during tax season. Most general accountants work in accounting firms, which may either be large or small. General accountants who work for themselves generally hold certified public accountant (CPA) certification. A certain number of general accountants work as staff accountants within larger non-accounting businesses. However, large companies often populate their accounting departments with specialized accountants, rather than general accountants.
General accountants must have a strong knowledge of accounting practices and ethical standards. Good communication skills are also necessary, as general accountants must be able to discuss financial matters with clients and build lasting relationships. The ability to work under stress to meet a deadline is also needed. General accountants usually hold bachelor’s degrees in accounting or finance. Larger firms might require postgraduate education in accounting or that accountants be CPAs.
General Accountant Tasks
- Analyze and monitor financial data of revenue and expenditures, compare to budget limits, trends, and report findings.
- Develop and maintain budget control policies and procedures within an organization.
- Create budget forecasts, and prepare financial budgets based on findings.