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Chartered public finance accountant: Job description

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A chartered public finance accountant is responsible for ensuring the effective operation of accounting and financial activities within public sector organisations.

While many work for public bodies, such as local and central government and publicly funded organisations, an increasing number are employed in industry or private accountancy firms.

Roles within private sector companies that provide services to the public or not-for-profit sector on a consultative basis tend to focus more on reviewing financial systems and efficiency, than on central accountancy activities.

The role varies widely from general financial administration to management accounting. Whether employed directly within the public sector or working on a consultative basis, chartered public finance accountants ensure that public money is used as effectively and efficiently as possible and that a high level of transparency is maintained.

Typical work activities

Tasks may include:

  • developing and managing financial management systems and policies;
  • ensuring the effective financial management of public money by supporting the planning and implementation of policy objectives;
  • making financial decisions and advising key bodies and individuals, such as management boards and budget holders, using financial management information;
  • preparing and monitoring budgets and accounts;
  • controlling expenditure and cash flow;
  • undertaking financial administration;
  • preparing reports on annual accounts and budget information for the auditor;
  • controlling the overall capital and revenue budgets for departments;
  • assessing and advising on estimates for project funding and continuing running costs;
  • preparing recommendations on large-scale projects;
  • checking that funding is properly distributed;
  • conducting internal audits, e.g. working on wage reviews;
  • checking creditors' invoices;
  • charging customers for services;
  • liaising with managerial staff, colleagues and clients;
  • examining financial records and statements to check for accuracy;
  • balancing the costs of specific public services against income;
  • keeping up to date with developments in public sector financial and management accounting practices;
  • managing and training staff, when employed at a senior level.

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Written by Gemma Halder, AGCAS
September 2014

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