Skills Financial Accountant near Toronto (ON)

Find out what skills you typically need to work as a financial accountant in Canada. These skills are applicable to all Financial auditors and accountants (NOC 1111).

Expertise

People working in this occupation usually apply the following skill set.

  • Ensure accuracy and compliance to accounting standards, procedures and internal control
  • Prepare reports and audit findings
  • Recommend improvements to accounting systems and management practices
  • Conduct field audits of businesses to ensure compliance with provisions of the Income Tax Act, the Canadian Business Corporations Act or other statutory requirements
  • Examine accounting records
  • Plan, set up and administer accounting systems
  • Prepare financial information for individuals, departments or companies
  • Prepare financial statements and reports
  • Develop and maintain cost findings, reporting and internal control procedure
  • Prepare income tax returns from accounting records
  • Analyze financial documents and reports
  • Provide financial, business and tax advice
  • Examine accounting records
  • Act as trustee in bankruptcy proceedings

Skills and knowledge

The following skills and knowledge are usually required in this occupation.

Essential skills

See how the 9 essential skills apply to this occupation.

Reading
  • Read brief e-mail from co-workers, managers and clients. For example, accountants may read e-mail from co-workers requesting instructions for processing uncommon financial transactions. They may read e-mail from suppliers who confirm delivery dates and ask about payments for invoices. (1)
  • Read letters and e-mail from co-workers, managers, suppliers and officials in government departments. For example, cost accountants read about monthly expenses and explanations of budget variances in e-mail from unit and department managers. Accountants for manufacturing plants read e-mail in which managers and supervisors offer suggestions for draft budgets and provide their opinions about predicted changes in business activities. Self-employed accountants read requests for additional financial details and clarifications of financial reports in letters from clients, officials in government departments and financial auditors. (2)
  • Read minutes from meetings and short reports to learn about business activities and other matters. For example, accountants for not-for-profit organizations read minutes from committee meetings and short reports about monthly activities to remain current on such matters as delays in projects and reasons for emergency committee meetings. Program auditors for government departments read monthly reports from community service agencies to understand reasons for budget variances. (3)
  • Read articles in business magazines and newsletters published by professional associations to learn about new business, management and accounting practices. For example, management accountants may read articles about financial risk management and methods for assessing and minimizing risks in the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants' newsletter. (3)
  • Read letters of understanding, contracts, project proposals and business prospectuses critically to verify that the information is correct, complete, follows required procedures and matches previous discussions. For example, management accountants read letters of understanding from financial auditors to learn about requirements, completion times and costs for audits. (4)
  • Read procedures and policies for their own and clients' organizations. For example, during annual risk assessments, business reviews and financial audits, senior accountants in manufacturing plants read accounting policies and procedures such as those for cash receipts, receivables and payables to ensure that all steps and control features have been specified correctly. (4)
  • Read legislation and international standards and addenda to maintain current knowledge of tax legislation and requirements for financial accounting and reporting. For example, tax specialists and senior accountants may read about changes to taxation rules for variable interest entities and derivatives in lengthy bulletins from international financial standards organizations. Senior accountants read about new requirements for tracking investments in addenda to the Canadian Institute for Chartered Accountants' Handbook. (4)
  • Read lengthy reports which describe internal audits, audits of financial statements and reports on internal controls. They read auditors' opinions about the relevance, accuracy and completeness of organizations' financial statements. They interpret findings to determine what changes are required to comply with generally accepted accounting practices, improve business management and minimize financial risks. For example, accountants read internal audit reports about procedures for planning, budgeting and forecasting to determine changes to accounting procedures to reduce budgeting cycles and to increase the reliability of forecasts. (4)
  • May read accounting journals and textbooks about accounting and business management. They read to keep abreast of the latest research in accounting and business practices. They evaluate the quality of research to determine what information they can apply to their work. For example, management accountants may read research reports published by accounting institutes such as the Society of Management Accountants of Canada to learn about the latest research in performance-based accounting. (5)
Document use
  • Locate data in entry forms. For example, controllers locate data such as dates, costs and descriptions of services and supplies in invoices. They locate cost codes and descriptions of goods and services in billing forms. Financial auditors locate financial data such as revenues, expenses, profits and retained earnings in corporate tax returns. (2)
  • Interpret graphs of financial variables. For example, accountant-auditors interpret graphs illustrating municipal debts, expenses and assets. Chief controllers interpret graphs displaying profits, revenues, expenses, liabilities and assets. (3)
  • Locate features of business and accounting processes in flowcharts. For example, financial auditors and self-employed accountants study process flowcharts of accounting systems to locate specific control points. (3)
  • Complete entry forms. For example, accountants enter details such as organizations' names, addresses, business numbers and billing codes into courier manifests. Departmental accountants complete credit applications to set up accounts with suppliers. Controllers complete expense authorization forms. Tax specialists complete complex corporate tax returns. (3)
  • Locate data in lists and tables. For example, accountants locate tax reporting dates and pay periods in schedules. They locate payroll deduction amounts in deduction tables. Tax specialists locate tax rates in tax tables. Financial auditors and accountants locate financial data such as revenues, expenses and assets in financial ledgers, bank and consolidated financial statements and expense summaries. (3)
  • Enter data into tables. For example, cost accountants enter financial data such as revenues, expenses and capital losses and gains in accounting templates and spreadsheets to create financial statements and summaries. Accountants for construction firms complete monthly depreciation tables for assets in order to track declining balances. (3)
WritingFinancial Auditors and Accountants
  • Write reminders and meeting notes. For example, tax specialists write brief statements which summarize topics discussed with clients' and reminders about promises and commitments made during these meetings. (1)
  • Write e-mail and letters to co-workers, clients, suppliers and officials in government departments. For example, controllers in manufacturing plants may describe discrepancies in invoicing and billing records in e-mail to co-workers and service providers. Management accountants may write e-mail to employees in financial institutions to request details of fees and services. Financial auditors write reminder letters to clients in which they list upcoming tax returns, due dates and the documents they require to complete financial audits. (2)
  • Write short reports and summaries on a wide range of accounting and business matters. For example, industrial accountants may write brief reports to explain processes for upcoming financial audits and policy and procedure reviews. Project accountants may write brief reports to explain reasons for budget variances. Controllers and accountants may write short reports to describe changes to budgets. (3)
  • May write proposals for the provision of financial and accounting services. For example, income tax advisors and financial auditors write proposals in which they outline their capacities for providing services, review their understanding of clients' accounting needs and describe work plans and costs (4)
  • Write lengthy accounting and audit reports. For example, accountants for oil and gas extraction companies write financial reports to provide reasons for financial decisions and to highlight the relationship between significant business developments and their companies' earnings. Financial auditors write audit reports to describe organizations' accounting practices and to present their opinions about organizations' compliance with accounting standards and legislation. In addition, they may outline recommended actions for improving business practices and accounting systems. (4)
Accountants
  • May write policies and procedures and prepare contracts. For example, management accountants write procedures describing the steps for preparing project proposals and contracts. Project accountants draft contracts to specify details such as scope of work, time frames and costs. (4)
NumeracyMoney Math
  • Calculate expense claims amounts. They calculate reimbursement amounts for travel and meal expenses using specified rates. (2)
  • Calculate invoice amounts. For example, controllers calculate amounts for goods and services using hourly, daily and per unit rates. They apply discounts and taxes and calculate sub-totals and totals. (3)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

Financial Auditors and Accountants
  • Calculate and verify account balances. For example, managers of finance reconcile records of financial transactions with financial summaries such as bank statements and source deduction and employer contribution summaries from the Canada Revenue Agency. (3)
  • Prepare financial summaries such as balance sheets, income statements and statements of cash flows and retained earnings. They prepare summaries to report revenues, expenses, earnings, losses, assets, liabilities, shareholders' equities and the values of business operations. For example, accountants calculate retained earnings for oil wells using data such as revenues generated from oil sales, investment income and operational costs for drilling, processing and transportation. Financial auditors verify the accuracy of financial summaries. (4)
  • May calculate taxes payable for individuals and organizations. They use data from statements and other financial summaries, apply multiple formulae and calculate sub-totals and totals. Financial auditors verify the accuracy of tax returns. (4)
Accountants
  • May compare costs and revenues for different investment options. For example, accountants and tax specialists calculate the different tax liabilities and costs associated with various investments to determine which will generate the greatest earnings and tax savings while maintaining adequate cash flows. (3)
  • Maintain and monitor budgets for businesses and other organizations. For example, accounting managers for manufacturing plants create annual master budgets. They consider factors such as estimated changes for costs of operations and sales volume and prices of products and services sold. They monitor these budgets to accommodate variations in costs and revenues. (5)
  • Forecast revenue amounts and future values of assets and investments. For example, chief controllers calculate anticipated revenues and future values of assets such as oil wells. They calculate amounts for the depreciation and appreciation of land, buildings and equipment. They forecast revenues using estimates of production and sales volumes and assumptions about expenses, market demands, prices for goods and services and currency and interest rates. (5)

Data Analysis

Accountants
  • Analyze costs for goods and services. For example, project accountants calculate average operational costs such as those for supplies, resources and labour to prepare budgets. Accountants in manufacturing plants calculate per unit production costs for products. Controllers calculate price differences and identify lowest prices for goods and services. (3)
  • Analyze data for production, service delivery and sales and generate statistics to describe the growth of business enterprises, changes in revenue and expenses, the composition of markets and other factors. For example, accountants for manufacturing and construction companies analyze data on the composition of markets and past sales to forecast future sales and to predict growth potential for business enterprises. (3)

Numerical Estimation

Financial Auditors and Accountants
  • Estimate the times required to complete job tasks. For example, tax specialists estimate times required to prepare, revise, evaluate and complete financial reports. Although there are past examples to guide estimates, they consider variables such as organizations' accounting systems and financial management practices. (2)
Accountants
  • Estimate production and sales volumes. For example, production accountants estimate production and sales volumes for oil and gas wells. They consider factors such as past yields of similar oil and gas wells and market demands. (3)
Oral communication
  • Discuss a variety of accounting and work-related topics with co-workers and colleagues. For example, accountants answer clerks' questions about entering financial transactions. Accountants for construction companies may ask colleagues about calculating gains on sales of assets. Tax specialists discuss changes to tax rules for claimable expenses with clients and their staffs. Accountants discuss financial entries in tax returns with financial auditors and officials in government departments. (2)
  • Discuss prices, products and services and delivery arrangements with service providers and suppliers. For example, accountants may discuss costs and payment schedules for short-term loans with bank managers. Controllers for manufacturing plants discuss requirements for financial reporting with tax specialists. (2)
  • Provide instructions and give direction to workers they supervise. For example, account managers discuss job assignments with financial clerks and secretaries. They outline priorities and give instructions for tasks such as entering financial transactions into spreadsheets. (3)
  • Interview and collect information from co-workers and clients. For example, managers of finance interview co-workers during annual risk management assessments and policy reviews. They discuss current procedures for completing business activities such as hiring consultants and purchasing supplies. Prior to audits, financial auditors interview chief accountants to understand clients' business operations. (3)
  • Present financial information to managers, committees, boards of directors and colleagues. For example, chief accountants present the results of financial reviews, inquiries and audits at audit committee meetings. Accountants present annual budgets, quarterly and annual financial summaries and business plans at shareholder meetings. Tax specialists present risk assessments for investment portfolios to senior managers. Financial auditors and accountants may lead accounting seminars and workshops for colleagues. (3)
Thinking

Problem Solving

Financial Auditors and Accountants
  • May find that clients and co-workers are not following accounting procedures and this is causing losses. For example, accounting controllers find that clients have not paid for services on time because co-workers are not following debt collection procedures. They instruct co-workers on steps for managing unpaid accounts, implement additional control features and increase monitoring of accounts receivables. (3)
Accountants
  • Find discrepancies in financial summaries. For example, accountants may discover differences between bank statements and accounting records. They review financial records, statements and other documents such as cheques issued and received to find the source of the errors. They correct the errors and reconcile accounts. If necessary, they change accounting procedures to prevent future errors. (2)

Decision Making

Financial Auditors and Accountants
  • Set credit limits for customers and fees and billing periods for clients. For example, accountants for construction firms and manufacturing plants set initial credit limits and billing periods for customers using credit histories and financial standings as key factors. They may choose to request advance payment for future services and goods to customers and clients who fail to pay invoices promptly. (2)
Accountants
  • Choose investments for organizations under the general direction of managers and directors. For example, accountants may choose both short and long-term investments for surplus funds. They consider factors such as predicted sales volumes, cash flow trends and expected expenses for upcoming projects. They also consider risk levels of different investment options. (3)
  • Choose accounting methods and strategies. Accountants make decisions about systems and processes to meet the evolving needs of organizations. For example, project accountants choose control features for cheque signing authorities. Accountants decide upon appropriate financial monitoring systems such as those for predicting cash flow requirements. They gather details about different options and strategies and discuss them with co-workers and colleagues before making final decisions. (3)

Critical Thinking

Financial Auditors and Accountants
  • Evaluate the suitability of services and supplies. For example, cost accountants and managers of finance evaluate the suitability of banking and investment accounts. (2)
  • May assess the financial health of organizations. For example, certified management accountants and financial auditors assess organizations' financial health. They examine financial records to identify trends such as changes in cash flows, indebtedness, expenses and revenues. They examine current accounting systems and management practices and plans for business development. They use their assessments to make recommendations for operational processes and strategic visions for organizations. (3)
  • May assess financial risks for accounting systems and business practices. For example, management accountants assess the soundness of organizations' accounting systems and business practices as part of annual risk assessments and policy and procedure reviews. They gather information by reviewing statistics to identify trends, conducting interviews with staff members and reading current policies and procedures. In addition, they use their experience to determine the balance between minimizing risks while maintaining efficiencies. Financial auditors review these systems for best business practices but also for compliance to rules, regulations and standards. (3)
Financial auditors
  • Evaluate the accuracy of prospectuses and financial records such as financial statements and balance sheets before approving them. They examine supporting documents such as financial records and narrative reports about accounting activities and financial systems. They ensure documents are complete and identify potential anomalies and inaccuracies. They seek clarification from appropriate personnel and request supporting documentation if necessary. (3)

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Financial auditors and accountants plan their daily activities to meet goals they have established. Accountants employed by businesses and other organizations often have a wide range of tasks to complete within any given week and month. They schedule time to monitor and support accounting staff, respond to questions about financial and accounting matters and carry out other job tasks. They may need to reschedule job tasks when unexpected activities such as tax audits and sales and acquisitions of assets occur. Self-employed accountants and auditors and those employed by accounting firms plan their job tasks to meet client's accounting needs. (4)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Accountants prepare daily, weekly, monthly and annual work schedules for financial and accounting activities. They plan activities for accounting staff and assign job tasks to accommodate activities such as provincial sales tax audits. Senior accountants and financial auditors may plan and oversee assignments for articling and junior accountants. Accountants may participate in strategic planning for businesses and other organizations. They use their knowledge and expertise in accounting to offer opinions and make suggestions for improving business and management practices, setting business goals and developing missions and business plans. (4)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember commonly used codes for billings and invoices to improve efficiency when processing and verifying financial and accounting records.
  • May remember details of projects within their organizations to answer questions and to manage financial transactions and accounts.
  • Remember the names and personal information of clients who contract their services and of employees within other organizations to establish rapport and good communications.

Finding Information

Financial Auditors and Accountants
  • Find information about workplace cultures, business practices and goals of organizations to complete organizational reviews and risk management assessments. They review policies, procedures, business plans, financial records, accounting systems and other relevant documents and speak to clients and their employees. (3)
Digital technology
  • May use databases. For example, they enter financial data into databases and conduct searches and queries to locate particular data. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they search Internet sites for information about rules, Acts, regulations and standards and other information for accounting, business practices and taxation. They manage bookmarks for commonly-used sites. They may use their organizations' intranets to access and post policies and procedures and other work related documents. (2)
  • Use word processing. For example, they use word processing software such as Word to carry out writing, editing and text formatting tasks. They use desktop publishing features and import graphs and tables from other computer software to lay out reports. (3)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they use graphics software such as PowerPoint to create slide presentations. They use a variety of features to insert and format text, tables, charts, pictures and diagrams. (3)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they create and modify spreadsheet templates to collect and organize financial data needed to complete analysis and management tasks. They use macros, insert calculation functions, merge cells and import and export data. In addition, they prepare graphs, tables and charts to display financial data. (3)
  • Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software. For example, they may set up and use Simply Accounting to manage account receivables and payables. They set up ledgers, post entries, create and print cheques and export data into other software programs. (3)
  • Use communications software. For example, they use communication software such as Outlook to exchange e-mail and attachments and to maintain distribution lists. They may use calendar features to record dates for payments and other financial activities. (3)
Additional informationOther Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Accountants employed by businesses and other organizations generally integrate their tasks with co-workers such as clerks, other accountants, supervisors and managers to ensure they understand and observe accounting and administrative requirements and meet deadlines for submissions. They often increase their interactions with co-workers when implementing new accounting procedures and when resolving problems with financial transactions. Self-employed accountants and auditors work independently. They integrate activities and arrange site visits with clients and their employees. Senior accountants and auditors may coordinate and integrate job tasks with articling and junior accountants to monitor their work and assist them as necessary. (3)

Continuous Learning

Continuous learning is critical for financial auditors and accountants. They need to maintain current knowledge about a wide range of Acts, rules, regulations and standards mandated by regulatory and governing bodies. In addition, it is important to learn about the current research in accounting and business and financial management practices. They learn through their day-to day activities in maintaining and preparing financial and accounting documents. They learn from discussions with colleagues and co-workers and by reading legislation and international standards, accounting books, professional journals and articles in publications such as the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants' newsletters. They may attend professional conferences, seminars and webinars. Financial auditors and accountants registered as members of institutes and associations and licensed by governing bodies must demonstrate their continuing education and skills development. They submit portfolios, complete self-assessments and track and report educational and professional development activities. (4)

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