Director of Accounting Jobs & Career Guide

By financejobs.net Staff Writer

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What is a Director of Accounting?

A Director of Accounting is a senior-level executive responsible for overseeing the accounting operations within an organization. This role involves managing all aspects of financial recording, reporting, and ensuring compliance with accounting standards and regulatory requirements.

Being a Director of Accounting is like wearing two hats: guardian and strategist. You’re the guardian of the company’s financial integrity, ensuring every transaction is accurate, recorded correctly, and complies with regulations. This requires meticulous attention to detail and a deep understanding of accounting principles. But you’re also a strategist, using financial data to identify trends, forecast future performance, and support informed decision-making. The role demands strong analytical skills and the ability to translate complex financial information into clear, actionable insights for various stakeholders. It’s a challenging but rewarding position – you play a crucial role in ensuring the financial health and stability of the organization. The best part? Witnessing the impact of your work. When a new financial reporting system you implemented streamlines processes and saves the company time and money, it’s a real sense of accomplishment.
Mike McGuire, Director of Accounting at ESAB

Is a Director of Accounting the same as a Director of Finance?

No, a Director of Accounting and a Director of Finance are not exactly the same, although their roles can have some overlap depending on the company size and structure.

Feature Director of Accounting Director of Finance
Focus Area Accounting & Financial Reporting Accuracy All Aspects of Financial Operations (Strategic)
Reporting Structure Reports to Director of Finance/CFO Reports to CFO or Manages Other Directors
Key Skills Accounting Expertise (GAAP/IFRS) Broader Financial Skills (Accounting, Analysis, Budgeting)
Focus Area
Director of Accounting Accounting & Financial Reporting Accuracy
Director of Finance All Aspects of Financial Operations (Strategic)
Reporting Structure
Director of Accounting Reports to Director of Finance/CFO
Director of Finance Reports to CFO or Manages Other Directors
Key Skills
Director of Accounting Accounting Expertise (GAAP/IFRS)
Director of Finance Broader Financial Skills (Accounting, Analysis, Budgeting)

Key Responsibilities

Financial Reporting and Compliance

  • Oversees the preparation and accuracy of financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements, ensuring they comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
  • Ensures compliance with local, state, and federal government reporting requirements and tax filings.

Internal Controls and Processes

  • Develops and maintains internal controls to safeguard the company’s assets and ensure the integrity of its financial data.
  • Implements policies and procedures that improve efficiency and consistency across the accounting department.

Team Management and Development

  • Manages and mentors the accounting team, which may include accountants, controllers, and financial analysts.
  • Responsible for hiring, training, and evaluating team members, fostering a collaborative and productive work environment.

Budgeting and Forecasting

  • Coordinates with other departments to prepare annual budgets and periodic financial forecasts.
  • Analyzes financial data to identify trends, advise on budget allocations, and forecast future financial conditions.

Audit and Liaison

  • Acts as the primary point of contact for external auditors during annual audits and reviews.
  • Works with external stakeholders such as auditors, tax advisors, and regulatory agencies.

Strategic Planning

  • Contributes to strategic planning and decision-making at the executive level to improve the financial health of the organization.
  • Provides strategic financial input and leadership on decision-making issues affecting the organization.

Day to Day

Here is what a typical day might look like for a director of accounting at a major software company:

  • 8:00 AM: Start the day by reviewing the latest financial reports and key accounting metrics. Check for any discrepancies or unusual transactions that need immediate attention and schedule discussions if necessary.
  • 8:30 AM: Attend a daily morning briefing with the finance team. Update the team on priorities for the day, review any pressing issues from the previous day, and discuss upcoming financial deadlines.
  • 9:00 AM: Conduct a meeting with the accounts receivable and payable teams to monitor cash flow and discuss any significant outstanding or overdue accounts. Identify any potential financial bottlenecks and strategize on solutions.
  • 9:45 AM: Review and approve significant financial transactions, ensuring they comply with company policies and financial regulations. This includes large transfers, contract signings, or expense approvals.
  • 11:00 AM: Meet with the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) team to discuss budget variances and forecasts. Focus on aligning financial forecasts with ongoing projects and operational budgets.
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch
  • 1:00 PM: Review preparation progress for upcoming quarterly financial statements. Ensure all financial documentation and reports are prepared accurately and in compliance with GAAP standards.
  • 2:00 PM: Attend a cross-departmental meeting with IT, sales, and marketing heads to ensure their financial operations align with the overall company strategy. Discuss any major changes in budget allocations or financial planning that may impact their departments.
  • 3:00 PM: Meet with external auditors or tax advisors to discuss any ongoing audits or prepare for upcoming ones. Review any points of concern that auditors have flagged and address compliance issues.
  • 4:00 PM: Spend time on strategic tasks, such as evaluating new accounting software or tools that could improve department efficiency or accuracy. Stay updated on new financial regulations or tax laws that could impact the company.
  • 5:00 PM: Wrap up the day by responding to emails from internal stakeholders or external partners. Prioritize tasks and set up the next day’s agenda.
  • 5:30 PM: Brief meeting with the CFO to report on the day’s critical financial activities, upcoming challenges, and progress on major projects.
  • 6:00 PM: Head home, though often remaining available for urgent queries or to finalize critical tasks remotely if necessary.

How to Become a Director of Accounting

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree – Start with a bachelor’s degree in accountingfinance, or a related field. This foundational education is crucial for understanding core accounting principles. Consider also whether pursuing an MBA makes sense at this juncture.
  2. Gain Initial Experience – Begin your career in an entry-level accounting role such as a staff accountant or junior auditor. This experience is vital for gaining practical skills in managing financial transactions and understanding regulatory compliance.
  3. Pursue Professional Certifications – Enhance your qualifications by becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or obtaining other relevant certifications such as Certified Management Accountant (CMA). These certifications are often required and highly respected in the accounting field.
  4. Acquire Specialized Experience – Progress to roles with increasing responsibility such as Senior Accountant, Accounting Manager, or Controller. Focus on mastering complex accounting functions, financial reporting, tax planning, and internal audits.
  5. Develop Leadership Skills – While gaining experience, cultivate leadership and strategic thinking skills. Management experience is essential for a director-level position, involving oversight of accounting teams and collaboration with other department heads.
  6. Advance to Director of Accounting – With substantial experience and a track record of successful financial management, advance to the role of Director of Accounting. Be sure to upload your resume and setup job alerts to find the right opportunity for you.

How Much Do You Earn as an Accounting Director?

The average salary in the US for a Director of Accounting is $157,058. For more detailed insights, please refer to our Accounting Director Salary Guide.

Position Company Location Posted
Senior Manager, Project Accounting ICF Reston, Virginia US 05/27/2024
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Senior Manager, Project Accounting ICF Virginia US 05/27/2024
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Senior Manager, Project Accounting ICF Reston, Virginia US 05/27/2024
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Assistant Director of Accounting Case Western Reserve Univesity Ohio 05/23/2024
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Director of Accounting Operations Ledgent Van Nuys, California US 05/23/2024
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Staff Accountant Leon County Sheriff’s Office Tallahassee, Florida US 05/22/2024
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Director, Environmental Sustainability Accounting Mastercard Harrison, New York US 05/21/2024
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Director, Environmental Sustainability Accounting Mastercard Chicago, Illinois US 05/21/2024
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Company
ICF
Location
Reston, Virginia US
Posted
05/27/2024
Company
ICF
Location
Virginia US
Posted
05/27/2024
Company
ICF
Location
Reston, Virginia US
Posted
05/27/2024
Company
Case Western Reserve Univesity
Location
Ohio
Posted
05/23/2024
Company
Ledgent
Location
Van Nuys, California US
Posted
05/23/2024
Company
Leon County Sheriff’s Office
Location
Tallahassee, Florida US
Posted
05/22/2024
Company
Mastercard
Location
Harrison, New York US
Posted
05/21/2024
Company
Mastercard
Location
Chicago, Illinois US
Posted
05/21/2024