The Financial Accountant is a mid-level professional whose responsibilities focus on the preparation of quarterly and annual financial statements. These tasks involve financial analyses, the review of working papers done by others, the preparation of estimates and the preparation of working papers to ensure that all financial transactions are accurately recorded in the financial system. This is done in order to provide senior management and the Finance and Audit Committee of the Board assurance regarding the quality of the information that underlies the Centre’s financial statements.
The Financial Accountant must stay abreast in his/her field, monitoring IFRS standards for changes that may affect financial reporting and bringing these issues to the attention of the Corporate Accountant.
The Financial Accountant interacts with all (Ottawa and regions) finance employees, other employees involved in the recording of transactions (grant administration officers), internal auditors, and external auditors (Office of the Auditor General). The incumbent also provides specialized advice to the Corporate Accounting unit and to various stakeholders and internal clients. Mentors and provides functional direction and orientation to financial analysts, casual staff and students.
Primary Duties or Responsibilities
Internal Controls and Quality Assurance of Financial Information
Responsible for the maintenance and improvements of procedures that aim to uphold the integrity of IDRC’s corporate financial information. The Financial Accountant normally discharges this responsibility at the end of the month, quarter and year accounting periods but that often requires much preparatory work and analysis on an-ongoing basis.
Prepares month-, quarter- and year-end cut-off schedules with due dates for submission of key tasks and working papers. Disseminates the schedules to all finance staff, grant administration staff and cost centre managers. Prepares relevant procedures that aforementioned staff must follow when applying the cut-off schedules.
Receives and reviews for accuracy, reasonableness, consistency and policy compliance, and accepts quarterly and year-end worksheets prepared by Financial Services, Human Resources Division, Grant Administration Division or regional offices; consolidates all the information and follows up on any correction that may be needed for errors and omissions; works to find the appropriate corrective action in a way that deadlines are met. Submits papers to the auditors at year-end.
Working from the trial balance report, sees that the proper analysis, interpretation, calculations and classification of transactions are effected (many of the following are technically complex, requiring analytical skills, problem-solving and a degree of decision-making that affect the integrity of financial statements — duplicate postings, postings to the wrong accounts, omitted postings, postings of the wrong amounts and postings to the wrong column). To that end, coordinates and mentors the work of financial analysts, casual workers and students.
Control of Accruals
Reviews and approves the quarter- and year-end expense accruals. A particular focus must be applied to high-risk transactions that come from outside the Division, where many mistakes are typically made.
Control of Employee Benefits
Oversees the employee benefit accrual calculations received from the Human Resources Division and regions for leave, severance and termination provisions as well as accruals for merit and variable pay. Ensure supporting documentation is available as an audit trail.
Prepares and consolidates (from cost centres and regions) a yearly estimate of the employer portions of certain corporate payroll benefit taxes that are weighted within the first half of the calendar year. Early quarterly expenses need to be deferred to proportionately distribute the expense over all accounting periods in the year.
Estimates and Provisions
Prepares analyses for quarter-end estimations for certain accounts requiring adjustment or provisions (some of which contain sensitive and confidential information — on individuals, on active corporate litigation, etc.). Records the estimates or provisions as appropriate. This procedure is referred to as management estimates in accounting standards. It requires considerable analytical skills, judgement and knowledge of numerical estimation methods.
Control of Equity
Prepares and maintains working papers to properly reflect the equity provisions (reserved, restricted and unrestricted) and prepares journal entries to record these in the general ledger. To that effect, liaises with the Chief, External Fund Management to determine the amount of restricted equity that may be linked to material projects or programs.
Coordinating Year-end Audit
Serves as one of three main contacts with the Office of the Auditor General at year end (in conjunction with the Corporate Accountant and Senior Financial Analyst); must maintain a good working relationship with the auditors.
At year-end, updates, with the input of relevant stakeholders, pertinent business process description documents that assist the Office of the Auditor General in its comprehension of IDRC operations.
Prepares and consolidates (from departments & regions) all working papers to meet with IFRS reporting requirements as support for the notes to the financial statements. This includes, but is not limited to leases, assets impairments, asset useful life, residual values and internal management representation letters.
Preparation of Financial Statements
Prepares quarterly and year-end financial statements and notes for review by the Corporate Accountant and by the Manager, Corporate Accounting. This task includes transferring financial information from Oracle’s e-business suite to Excel-based worksheets for final formatting, inserting updated values into the disclosure notes and drafting new disclosure notes appropriate to IDRC’s current circumstances.
Maintains dual records for financial statement information under both Canadian GAAP and IFRS standards until transition to IFRS is complete.
Prepares changes to the financial statements based on feedback from the Technical Review group of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada at year-end and in consultation with the Manager of Corporate Accounting and Corporate Accountant.
Prepares summary financial statements and financial reports for Public Works and Government Services Canada. Implements processes that ensure the data included on the report are accurate. Also prepares and submits to the Canada Revenue Agency IDRC’s charity tax return. Secures appropriate sign-offs when required by the entity to which the report is sent (self, Director or Vice-president, Resources).
Liaises with the Financial Advisor, in the Budget in Financial Management Unit of the Division, during the preparation of the Management Discussion and Analysis of the quarterly and year-end financial statements.
Coordinates the work of other members of the Division who prepare financial information in response to questions posed by Members of Parliament. Finalizes the response, ensuring the proper explanations and nuances are brought to bear so as to avoid disrepute to the IDRC.
General Financial Management
Takes a critical view of financial operations to identify opportunities to improve internal controls (especially upstream of the preparation of the financial statements) while streamlining financial business processes, comparing them as appropriate with current industry standards. Provides specialized financial advice on general accounting issues and processes relating to the quarterly and year-end financial reporting. Drafts or updates Centre-wide financial procedures (How To series) relating to own area of responsibility.
If in the process of managing the quarter-end processes, the accountant identifies new reporting needs, s/he must, after coordination with the Corporate Accountant and other colleagues, follow-up directly with the Financial Systems Unit to see to the design of the requirements for the new report(s). Sees through the testing and production of the new report or query. Also sees to the dissemination of the new report to fellow regional office accountants.
Senior level resource for other members of the Corporate Accounting team on any matter related to general accounting operations. Leads Corporate Accounting’s testing program in liaison with the Financial Systems Unit — during the periodic patching of Oracle.
Develops and maintains a process that monitors emerging accounting issues pertaining to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for areas that may affect IDRC; familiarizes him/herself with the proposed changes, identifies the impact and introduction dates, and keeping the Corporate Accountant up-to-date on all pertinent activity in this area as well as recommending courses of action, ensuring that IDRC continues to adhere to current accounting standards.
Schedules the run of monthly reports. Prepares ad hoc financial analysis as requested by the Corporate Accountant or other senior members of the Division.
Participates as needed in division-wide initiatives by contributing expertise and knowledge within own area of responsibility. Provides backup assistance to other members of the Corporate Accounting team as required.
Identifies appropriate measures (Key Performance Indicators) for own area of responsibility.