What are the expectations from a Senior Accountant?

This topic contains 24 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Nate 5 months ago.

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  • #2157508

    Swatee
    Participant

    I am a CPA and a senior Accountant, started this job in May 18.Most of my work is accurate but I am making very basic errors which are mostly not presenting the data properly.I am recording all numbers correctly and never had any reconciling variance.My Manager is not happy with the minor errors and wants to make a decision on me soon.I am not sure what that decision be but I feel that he is unreasonable.

    I make errors like showing zero balances in recons, not filtering the data in recon backup that is relevant to the reconciling item even though my recon is accurate .I reconciled dec accurately but forgot to copy nov numbers in the next column and had oct numbers.

    These are the kind of errors I make and they are very silly mistakes .Are Senior accountant’s not expected to make errors like these and they get terminated?

    #2157622

    Dad of girls
    Participant

    Termination seems extreme since you've been there less than a year, unless you knew the position was more of a temp-to-hire type of position. That being said your focus is still the same. I would recommend writing up a “final checklist” to do after every reconciliation. Put obvious things on the checklist, but more importantly, put all those small dumb little errors. Like have one point be “Verify prior months numbers agree with prior reconciliation”, and “Are any zero balances coming through when they shouldn't be”. This broad type of “reasonableness check” should help you catch those errors. Sure creating this checklist will take some thinking, and doing it after every recon will get tedious, but eventually it will become second nature. Plus it is taking the initiative to fix your mistakes that is important. Also consider showing the checklist to your manager in case there is anything he would like to add to it.

    AUD - 89
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    FAR - 90
    REG - 81
    Michigan CPA
    #2157736

    Swatee
    Participant

    He said he wants a decision to be made and he is copying his boss on emailing me such errors.Do you think he will do a PIP?

    #2158450

    bhunt815
    Participant

    CPA-level jobs are often required to have a high level of accuracy. Your post make you seem to be very forgiving of your own mistakes, and if you give that vibe to your supervisor he might interpret that as “live with it, it's not so bad”. My opinion – Do what you need to do to increase your accuracy. Make a checklist of items to check before sending something to him. Present him with the changes you are willing to make in order to do your job at a higher level.

    AUD - 79
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    Becker Self Study supplemented with Ninja MCQ's for BEC and REG.

    Licensed CPA in Louisiana.

    #2158459
    Recked
    Recked
    Participant

    I'd suggest a more thorough review of your own work.
    If possible hold the rec's until the following day to review with a fresh set of eyes to try and catch your own mistakes before someone else does.
    If it can't wait a day, hold onto it for an hour or 2 longer while you work on something else, then review once again before sending it along.
    While there are big and small errors, you should feel that any error is large. Your attention to detail needs to exceed your supervisor's expectations.
    If they can't trust you to do a simple rec, how can they trust you to do more advanced things on your own without having to double check every detail.
    Try and step your game up, you got this!

    Memento Mori - Kingston NY CPA & EA (SUNY Albany 2002)

    FAR-93 11/9/17 (10wks, 250 hrs, Roger 1800+ MCQs, Gleim TB 600+MCQs, SIMs)
    AUD-88 12/7/17 (3 wks, 85 hrs, Roger 1000 MCQs no SIMs hail mary)
    REG-96 1/18/18 (6 wks, 110 hrs, 1400 MCQs, no SIMs)
    BEC-91 2/16/18 (4wks, 90 hrs, 1240 MCQs)

    #2159362

    jombe
    Participant

    Accounting professionals in general are expected to have high level of accuracy.
    As Bhunt815 mentioned above, you do sound a little too forgiving of your own mistakes.
    Everyone knows we all make mistakes, but unless you feel bad about it, you are unlikely to improve.
    And, I wouldn't give out the vibe that basically says ‘it's a silly mistake. who cares.'
    Stop justifying your mistakes. Own up to it. Fix it. Don't do it again.

    I recommend for whatever projects you are responsible for, write the process down. Maybe come up w/ a self-review checklist.
    Implement check figures in your workpaper. Even if it means spending extra 15-30 mins to do a thorough review of your work after you've done it, do it, if that's what it takes to stop you from making “silly” mistakes.

    AUD - 99
    BEC - 91
    FAR - 94
    REG - 96
    --------------------------------------------
    Done with exam. On with life.
    #2159401

    MaLoTu
    Participant

    I am not sure those are minor errors to your manager. The zero value items are probably not a big deal, BUT if he has a recon with dec and oct numbers and doesn’t know the oct numbers are not the nov numbers you actually used, this requires him to stop what he is doing and find you or go in the file and pull the document and essentially redo your work to see what is going on.

    No matter where you work or in what position, if you are making someone’s job harder for them they are not going to like working with you.

    I really like the idea someone mentioned about making a checklist of all the things you should be checking for before submitting to your manager. This would also show that you care.

    Almost always from my phone... please excuse my typos!

    All 4 passed - 2016

    CA CPA

    #2159407

    kev959
    Participant

    I've been in the position where I've managed Sr Accts (as well as Sr Acct myself) and to be blunt your boss is not being unreasonable. You are a CPA and you've been in your position for 8 months. Those type of errors on a continual basis are inexcusable.
    That being said there has been some great advice in above threads that can help you. One, that I did was to create a checklist for myself when I was a Sr Acct. Make sure each item is accounted for. Second, find a way where you can incorporate your firm's data into an excel sheet. Doing so will allow you much flexibility to run simple checks, tie out numbers, create formuals to compare to previous month data, budget data, YTD, etc. Three, do a reasonableness check on the numbers and/or comparisons. For example, you may have a zero % variance (sounds great but unusual) but did the numbers change from last month, should there really be a zero there, etc? )Remember those FASB Conceptual Framework concepts from FAR?) Finally, your goal should be to make your boss's job easier. You need to ensure accurate and complete work is being presented. Take the time to check your work. It will only help you in the long run not just for this particular boss.

    #2174113

    Swatee
    Participant

    I got laid off finally.The letter was given to me by HR which said that they have eliminated my role due to restructuring.I don’t buy that it was a layoff and rather a plan of my manager to get rid of me quickly.He could put me on a PIP but he just wanted me out instantly .

    #2174140

    DDylan
    Participant

    pat pat. Do they give you any severance package? Use that and take a break…At least it's not a fire.

    #2174428

    Pork Flavored Bacon
    Participant

    So this is the second (or third?) senior associate position from which you have been fired. I don't want to put you down but if three employers have fired you for performance-related issues in three years, the problem isn't your employers being unreasonable with their expectations. The problem is you are performing below a senior associate level.

    At this point in your career it doesn't seem like you're ready for senior associate and if you continue to seek out senior roles, you might be setting yourself up for failure.

    It might be helpful if you go back to an experienced associate level position and move back into a senior associate role naturally.

    #2174437

    Swatee
    Participant

    Then what do they see in the interview, they offer me the job very quickly based upon the interview and no one calls me for less than a Senior Accountant because I am active CPA and now I have three years of a Sr Accountant experience.

    I worked as a staff accountant for 4 years before becoming a Sr Accountant but those were contracts.

    #2174449

    Swatee
    Participant

    I was bored at my last job and used to get everything done in 10 days with nothing left to do for rest of the month .The job was very simple

    #2174620

    This is the third job you have lost due to the same exact performance reasons. If anything, this employer was doing you a huge favor. It seems strange that you still choose to blame everyone but yourself at this point. If you can't catch errors in your own work, how can your bosses expect you to solve any client-related issues? Your employers have been very patient with you. The clients won't and you will lose reputation and money not only for yourself, but for your employer.

    Maybe you should take the CPA off of your resume and go back to that simple job. Maybe by then you can get it through your thick noggin on what it takes to even be an accountant.

    AUD - 75
    BEC - 77
    FAR - NINJA in Training
    REG - 76
    Currently studying for FAR
    #2174629
    Recked
    Recked
    Participant

    Another71.com delivering some harsh truth, one serving at a time.
    Tough luck on getting fired, hopefully you find a new job that works out for you (and your future employer) soon.
    In all honesty I think your contract work experience did not prepare you for a senior role, and every firm hiring you based on your 4 years experience and then senior job titles on your resume all expect you to be up to speed, but you never got up to speed. I've read about this type of situation happening to people who transfer jobs frequently for better pay and better titles. They end up moving up the ladder but don't actually have the experience and knowledge to back it up, so they become frustrated and their employers become frustrated. This is why firms usually try to promote from within, knowing the candidate has been taught correctly and progressed naturally.
    I'm going to agree with the above poster and encourage you to drop back from the senior role, or be open and honest with your next potential hire so they can teach you correctly.

    Memento Mori - Kingston NY CPA & EA (SUNY Albany 2002)

    FAR-93 11/9/17 (10wks, 250 hrs, Roger 1800+ MCQs, Gleim TB 600+MCQs, SIMs)
    AUD-88 12/7/17 (3 wks, 85 hrs, Roger 1000 MCQs no SIMs hail mary)
    REG-96 1/18/18 (6 wks, 110 hrs, 1400 MCQs, no SIMs)
    BEC-91 2/16/18 (4wks, 90 hrs, 1240 MCQs)

    #2174767

    MaLoTu
    Participant

    I am sorry to hear that they let you go.

    Almost always from my phone... please excuse my typos!

    All 4 passed - 2016

    CA CPA

    #2175397

    Pork Flavored Bacon
    Participant

    What do they see in your interviews – do I really have to say it? They hear a lot of bullshit and they buy it. Did you tell your latest employer you lost two senior jobs before due to performance issues?
    Selling yourself is easy and that is what you are supposed to do at an interview. But when your mouth starts writing checks your brain can’t actually cash, that’s going to end badly, as you have seen.
    I really think you need to take a step back and really evaluate your situation. My previous comment about going back to associate and working your way back into senior (at the same firm) would be much better since you will be properly trained and have a better understanding of what is expected of you. The flow would make sense. Just looking at your opening post it is clear as day that you are not ready to be a senior.
    I wouldn't go telling potential employers you have three years of senior experience. That would imply you are pretty much at a manager level and that would be a very unrealistic expectation right now.

    #2177209

    Adam
    Participant

    @Pork flavored bacon…STFU…have you ever worked in public..youre not even a CPA..the guy just got fired..he doesn't need your critique or criticism..once you join the club maybe then you can speak up..

    If you actually worked in Public, you would know mistakes and errors happen all the time and are common..And you know what they really really don't matter in the end..what matters is they arent material during an audit..which is pretty hard to do..I'm a SR in Chicago..and currently correct the partner for mistakes he makes all the time..this maanger is just a dick..ive dealt with more sociopaths working in accounting then i ever imagined..

    On the accounting side..clients do not understand the numbers theyre looking at..nor know GAAP so who is going to point the mistake out? Should mistakes happen..no..but you do work for 10 hours numbers get transposed and things get missed.

    On the Tax side..if youd ever worked an actual tax season..youd be aware of numerous “mistakes” that are done on purpose that are highly illegal..but done to reduce taxation for clients and keep them happy..audits are less than 2% and highly unlikely theyll ever be seen..and if they are..the engagement letter covers your ass on both fronts..not hard to lose a number on a complicated return in the software..

    Should a SR CPA know how to do recs or whatever..Yes of course..but perhaps instead of firing the guy..take the time to take them aside and sit down with them and walk them through where they struggle and make sure they can do it ann udnerstand it…Firms cry about not being able to find qualified help..yet instead of offering training or guidance they “lay people off”

    Simply SALY teaches you nothing..when last year was never right in the first place…but thats Public in general.

    #2177212

    Adam
    Participant

    Most “Seniors” Ive come accross dont know much more then a second year staff ..so I'm sure hes more then qualified for a SR position..

    #2177662

    jombe
    Participant

    @adam -a lot of ppl on this thread, including myself, were speaking some harsh truth, but your post is literally the worst. Yeah, the guy just got fired, but if he keeps making same mistakes over and over throughout his career w/ no one telling him how shit rolls, he will be in a worse shape. And yeah, people in public make mistakes. I was in public audit and they are squeezed so much working 60-80 hours a week for 3-4 months, do you blame them? And there's also a thing called “materiality” and “reasonable assurance” in public audit. There's a “room” for error. In private, in general, you are not pulling those amount of hours. You don't have “materiality” to lean back on. There's no reason why your work product should contain multiple errors. I just moved to private recently and whatever project I am given, I self-review it a few times before I give it to my manager. I haven't made any mistakes so far. I am sure I will in future, but again, it's not something that cannot be kept at minimum. And, the guy was at his position for 8 months. He shouldn't need hand-holding at that point to stop making same mistakes over and over. Hope you get a staff or a senior below you that makes mistakes over and over, man. Sounds like you can handle it. I couldn't.

    AUD - 99
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    REG - 96
    --------------------------------------------
    Done with exam. On with life.
    #2177683
    Recked
    Recked
    Participant

    Some incredible ethical challenges mentioned in Adam's post… I'm just gonna slowly back away from this one.
    If you know of people making “highly illegal” decisions on tax returns to keep the client happy, I'd suggest you stay as far away from that as you can.
    The chances of getting caught are about correct, my understanding is less than 1% currently, but I will tell you once your number gets pulled the odds go to 100%.
    Nothing worse than representing a client when the audit gets sideways, trust me. Someone loses sleep over it, don't let that person be you.

    Memento Mori - Kingston NY CPA & EA (SUNY Albany 2002)

    FAR-93 11/9/17 (10wks, 250 hrs, Roger 1800+ MCQs, Gleim TB 600+MCQs, SIMs)
    AUD-88 12/7/17 (3 wks, 85 hrs, Roger 1000 MCQs no SIMs hail mary)
    REG-96 1/18/18 (6 wks, 110 hrs, 1400 MCQs, no SIMs)
    BEC-91 2/16/18 (4wks, 90 hrs, 1240 MCQs)

    #2177722

    PJ
    Participant

    Nothing like a CPA admitting to tax fraud on a public forum

    AUD - 83
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    FAR - 92
    REG - 91
    Licensed in IL
    #2177944

    Pork Flavored Bacon
    Participant

    Adam: Yes, I am a CPA and yes, I have worked in public accounting. In fact, I was fired from my first public accounting job for performance issues, too. Mainly, I just didn't care about audit but got a wake-up call when they booted me for doing terrible work as an associate.
    If you're correcting your partner all the time, it sounds like you work at a shitty firm.

    #2178430

    TommyTheCat
    Participant

    wow Adam you win for the most entertaining post of 2019 so far.

    Totally agree with Pork and a few other comments above. Adam if OP takes your advice they'll be getting cut from their 4th senior job in the next year, bank on it. Blaming everyone but yourself is a sure fire way to failure.

    AUD - 85
    BEC - 89
    FAR - 91
    REG - 97
    #2179405

    Nate
    Participant

    I'm sorry you were fired, I've been fired 3 times in my life, and only one was due to performance issues (believe me, I deserved it, I was lazy and hated the job). Once I was fired at a small company by an accounting manager that had 0 education and literally didn't know debits from credits and she got tired of me showing her up (and I was also catching on to fraud that scared the owner and CEO, who was the owner's 27 year old son fresh out of a business degree). The other time I simply wasn't willing to work the crazy hours they demanded because well, I love my wife and want to spend time with her occasionally; plus with the salary the managing partner gave along with no OT, if you met his crazy work hour demands you'd making well under $10/hour. So believe me when I understand how people can be unjustly fired.

    However, in your case, I'm going to agree with everyone but Adam. One thing I noticed in your post is that you repeat mistakes, and that's a huge issue. And the worst part is it isn't a random calculation error which happens to all of us, this is a very easy correctable error (reconciliations), but you seem to have taken 0 imitative to fix it yourself. It's not the responsibility of management to hold the hands of employees, you have to take a certain level of responsibility in correcting your own errors (and taking the time to catch your own errors). I work in both tax and FS reviews, and you better believe I look over my work after finishing and do 2 year comparisons, to see anything I might have missed or entered in error. I was never told to do that, but I chose to do that because I want to grow and be the best that I can be. In all accounting work, it's very important to learn from mistakes and adjust/grow to keep them from happening again.

    From my personal perspective, it doesn't sound like you aren't smart enough, it sounds like you just aren't very hard working. And honestly, that's not the worst thing. You can be a lazy accountant and still make a living. Heck, I have a lazy coworker, he graduated years ago and has never passed a CPA exam and even though he has every reason to pass them he never even studies. He tries to find ways to work less than 40 hours cause he enjoys spending his afternoons drinking beer. A year ago he was ahead of me because of experience, but I got my license and have worked way harder and now I've passed him up, and he's totally OK with that. He just simply enjoys being an associate and making just enough to afford a small house and drink lots of beer, and he and his wife don't want kids so it works for them. He has mastered the art of butt-kissing so that helps him a lot, but I wouldn't recommend that.

    Basically, I'm trying to say, own up to your errors and have some self-reflection. If you want to be a partner or CFO or something like that, then you can do it! Just take the initiative and don't blame everyone else. If you want to be like my co-worker, then heck, go for that lifestyle, he seems perfectly happy and doesn't care that he doesn't get promoted. Just be honest with yourself. Best of luck with your career aspirations, whatever they may be.

    AUD: 54 (10/31/15); 83 (12/02/17)
    BEC: 70 (01/31/16); 90 (07/02/17)
    FAR: 73 (10/03/15); 88 (02/17/18)
    REG: 83 (06/09/18)
    AICPA Ethics: 91 (06/28/18)
    Licensed: 08/16/18

    Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
    -Galatians 6:9

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