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What Is a Chief Accounting Officer and How to Become One

What Does a Chief Accounting Officer Do?

The responsibilities of a chief accounting officer (CAO) include leading the accounting department of a business and managing its day-to-day operations. In this career, you prepare the budget and regulatory reporting and monitor and analyze finances relative to the budget or other metrics. Other duties include leading the accounting staff, putting together monthly, quarterly, and annual financial reporting, including audited financial statements, studying historical financial reporting, and managing general accounting, such as accounts receivable and payable and fixed assets. You are also expected to oversee accounting for payroll, workers’ comp, healthcare, bonuses, bank reconciliations, and more. You prepare presentations and provide information for cost reports to analyze the financial position of the business while providing recommendations to improve performance.

How to Become a Chief Accounting Officer

Qualifications needed to become a chief accounting officer include a bachelor’s degree in accounting, but some positions require a master’s degree, professional experience with accounting, and industry-specific knowledge based on the business for which you work. For example, when working for a bank, you need additional knowledge, such as that related to the latest FDIC guidelines. You must have excellent computer skills and be familiar with accounting software, databases, project management programs, and more. It is critical to have strong written and verbal communication skills, be comfortable giving presentations, and possess leadership skills, patience, and organization skills.

What Is the Difference Between a Chief Accounting Officer and a Chief Financial Officer?

There are many similarities between chief accounting officers and chief financial officers (CFO), such as the responsibility of managing the finances of a business. However, there are important distinctions between these two positions. The CAO is in charge of all things within the accounting department of a company, especially the day-to-day operations. The CFO is the highest financial position in the business and manages things like budgets, forecasts, credit, taxes, and insurance. They also oversee individuals, such as financial controllers and treasurers, and implement their new ideas into lower levels of the business.

Chief Accounting Officer Job Description Sample

With this Chief Accounting Officer job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember though, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for their Chief Accounting Officer position.

Job Summary

We are seeking a highly-skilled, experienced chief accounting officer to join our growing organization. In this position, you will coordinate and supervise the accounting department, delegating work and ensuring the staff follows all current laws and company procedures. You must be able to take large amounts of accounting information, analyze results, and make changes where necessary to benefit the company.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Report directly to the chief financial officer (CFO)
  • Recruit, manage, and oversee all accounting departments; work with other accounting managers
  • Create accounting strategies to maximize profits
  • Manage payroll and taxes
  • Regularly examine financial statements and ensure they are accurate and free of any errors
  • Organize and update financial records; monitor all bookkeeping
  • Analyze accounts and suggest improvements to reduce costs and increase profits
  • Make sure all financial data adheres to current tax laws and regulations
  • Keep company accounts information confidential
  • Stay abreast of industry changes and current tax/accounting laws
  • Prepare, manage and present monthly reports

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree in accounting or finance
  • CPA Certification; continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements
  • 10+ years experience in a senior accounting position
  • Advanced knowledge of professional accounting software
  • Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements
  • Extensive business experience and strategic knowledge
  • Skilled in Microsoft suite; proficient in complex accounting systems
  • Highly skilled in budgeting and bookkeeping
  • Excellent financial and analytical abilities
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills
  • High attention to detail