What Does a General Ledger Accountant Do? A Definitive Guide
Updated 26 March 2023
Companies hire several kinds of accountants to handle different financial aspects of the business. A general ledger accountant is a specialised financial professional that conducts audits and ensures compliance with regulations. Understanding the duties, credentials and salary of a general ledger accountant can help you decide if it's a good career path for you. In this article, we answer the question, "What does a general ledger accountant do?", explore common requirements for the role, share the national average salary for this role and list relevant skills you can develop to succeed as a general ledger accountant.
What does a general ledger accountant do?
If you're interested in this career path, you may wonder, "What does a general ledger accountant do?" Their common duties may include the following:
Verifying data accuracy with audits
One of the most important duties of a general ledger accountant is to perform company audits on financial information. An audit is crucial to the success of a business because it helps identify any financial errors or fraudulent transactions and identifies where the company can reduce its overall costs. General ledger accountants analyse a company's total financial transactions each month to look for errors and other problems. They report their findings to company executives and typically work with company leadership to resolve any financial issues or create a budgeting plan to reduce costs.
Reconciling financial accounts
General ledger accountants also reconcile accounts with the company's general ledger to validate transactions and ensure accuracy and adherence to any governmental regulations for accounting. Following an audit, a general ledger accountant who identifies errors may fix them or request changes in the company's financial or accounting practices to avoid future errors. Reconciling accounts is important to keeping the business aligned with governmental regulations and avoiding fines or other consequences. Reconciled accounts also help the company keep accurate records for taxation and future review.
Entering financial data into the general ledger
A general ledger accountant typically uses computer software to enter data into the company's general ledger. This requires some computer skills and experience with bookkeeping or financial software. Most general ledger accountants are proficient in spreadsheets or other datasheets. The accountant enters all the company's financial data and may use it to prepare financial reports requested by company leaders. For example, if the company's CEO needs a summary of the company's monthly expenses, the general ledger accountant can prepare and deliver this report using their financial software tools.
Related: How to Become a Freelance Accountant
Creating, storing and maintaining financial data and documents
The general ledger accountant also creates, stores financial data and documents. This includes filing paperwork in digital storage or physical locations, maintaining the accuracy and integrity of these files and creating reports. The general ledger accountant can generate financial reports for company leaders or regulatory bodies, such as the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. The general ledger accountant is also responsible for protecting these documents by following strict cybersecurity and filing guidelines as set forth by their employer or regulatory organisation.
Keeping the company aligned with financial regulations and best practices
The general ledger accountant works to maintain financial regulations and accounting best practices within the business. This might include preparing the correct documents for tax purposes, submitting revenue or expense reports and following strict security and ethical accounting practices. The ledger accountant is often the company's accounting advisor, offering guidance for company executives on financial data, regulatory requirements and the company's tax responsibilities. Ledger accountants are often the company's contact for any tax or financial questions, comments or investigations by regulatory bodies.
Assisting with tax filings and preparations
The general ledger accountant may also assist the company with preparing and filing its tax documents and reconciling company profits with tax burdens. This can include preparing and drafting reports, answering inquiries from the tax authority and advising company leadership on tax burdens and best practices. General ledger accountants may also oversee the payment process for company taxes, including back taxes or penalties. They also reconcile the company's tax expenses with the general ledger and deduct payments from company accounts.
General ledger accountant requirements
General ledger accountants can pursue the following credentials for employment:
General ledger accountants often have a bachelor's degree or higher certification in a financial discipline, preferably accounting or financial management. A bachelor's degree typically takes up to four years to complete. Students learn the foundations of financial management and business financial practises and tax law. Employers may prefer a candidate with at least a bachelor's degree because it shows the candidate has classroom experience with accounting techniques, law and general accounting practices.
Experience in accounting
General ledger accountants typically earn experience as clerks or other entry-level financial professionals during their education or through internships. This experience helps them learn to apply their classroom knowledge in a direct work environment and learn the nuances of the job. This can include specific industry practices or regulations, how to use proprietary accounting and financial software and how to assimilate into a new work culture.
General ledger accountants typically hold a CA, or Chartered Accountant, certification. The CA certification shows a candidate is proficient in accounting processes and laws and understands how to operate in a business environment. CA certifications require around 150 hours of additional study after completing a bachelor's degree in accounting or financial management. You can acquire a CA certification through the ISCA, or the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants.
Proficiency in business management and accounting software
Proficiency in general accounting software is essential for all accountants. Ledger accountants may need additional experience in specific business management or accounting software, or learn to use company software for different employers. Proficiency in accounting software can help an employer feel more confident about hiring you since you know how to use the tools for the job. Proficiency in specific accounting software can also give you a competitive advantage over other candidates, especially if you're proficient in niche software for specific industries or processes, like taxation.
Answer financial queries from other departments
If a department within the business has a question or inquiry about a specific accounting practice, financial concept or bookkeeping error, they typically contact the general ledger accountant for an answer. The accountant can provide answers when necessary or redirect the department manager elsewhere if they're unable to answer. Accountants also offer general advice for the company's different departments and can help them understand the impact of their operations on the company's overall financial health.
National average salary
The average salary for a general ledger accountant is $3,458 per month. Accountants with additional certifications aside from a bachelor's degree may have opportunities for a higher salary, and some provinces may offer higher wages than others. With more experience in the field, you may be able to negotiate a higher salary.
Primary skills for ledger accountants
General ledger accountants have many skills that help them excel in financial and business management, including:
Organisational skills: Ledger accountants track, manage and organise financial data, which requires excellent organisational skills and precision. Ledger accountants can organise their time, workspaces and the data they work with to avoid errors and distractions.
Financial management skills: Ledger accountants understand advanced financial and business management concepts. This can include things like managing business expenses, reducing overhead costs and how to reconcile accounts with the company ledger.
Interpersonal skills: General ledger accountants understand how to communicate with other people and convey ideas effectively. This includes proficiency in written and verbal communication and active listening skills and empathy.
Integrity: General ledger accountants work with sensitive financial data and have a strong sense of honesty and integrity. They help keep company financial data safe and use their skills to help the company meet financial regulations and best practices.
Analytical skills: Ledger accountants possess strong analytical skills because they work with complex financial data and often analyse large sets of data for specific information. This can include the ability to read interpret and convey financial data to company executives.
Strong mathematical skills: Accountants work with numbers, mathematical formulas and specific mathematics principles each day, requiring strong mathematics skills. This includes the ability to perform advanced calculations on data sets using software or manual methods.
Auditing skills: General ledger accountants typically possess auditing skills, allowing them to audit company financial data or reports for compliance with regulatory bodies. Auditing skills include knowledge of financial law, how to detect fraud and a strong understanding of how accurate financial statements look.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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