Accounts/Finance Clerk

The Job and What's Involved

Acer LaptopAccounts/finance clerks are responsible for providing financial administration support and information to companies and organisations.

Their job description depends on the size and structure of the environment in which they are working. For example, they may provide support to professional accountants, work in a company's finance department or support specific business functions, such as marketing and sales. They may work alone or as part of a finance or accounts team.

The role of an accounts/finance clerk may involve:

  • Keeping accurate financial records.
  • Helping prepare and audit accounts.
  • Balancing and monitoring profit and loss, income and expenditure sheets.
  • Banking takings.
  • Balancing petty cash.
  • Raising purchase orders and processing payments.
  • General administrative duties, such as filing bank statements.
  • Issuing, processing and checking sales invoices and receipts.
  • Monitoring and analysing cash flow statements.
  • Calculating wages and making up wage packets.
  • Checking and processing staff expense claims.
  • Preparing applications for financial grants or funding.
  • Assisting with internal audits.
  • Completing VAT returns.
  • Assisting with the preparation of accounts and returns for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

It is possible to specialise in one of the following areas:

Cash and Banking
Credit Control
Payroll Accounting
Purchase Accounting

There are numerous software packages, such as databases and spreadsheets, to assist an accounts/finance clerk in their role. This also ensures there are fewer human errors.

Accounts/finance clerks usually work 37 hours a week, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Overtime may be required to accommodate busier times of the year, such as the end of the financial year or the monthly pay run. It is possible to work part time or on a flexi basis.

The work is office based. Offices may be open plan and can be situated in old buildings or purpose-built modern outlets.

Starting salaries may be around £12,000 to £14,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are thousands of people employed in this area and prospects are good. Opportunities exist throughout the UK with a range of companies and organisations, in both the private and public sectors, and including charitable trusts.

Vacancies are advertised on company websites, through recruitment agencies and in the local and national press.

Education and Training

There are no formal entry requirements, although employers are likely to ask for GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) in English and maths. IT skills are also useful. Entrants would be expected to have an interest in pursuing a career in finance.

There is a range of qualifications that would give a good grounding. Qualifications accredited by the regulatory authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland include:

  • City & Guilds (8953) Level 1-2 Book-keeping and Accounts.
  • OCR Level 1 Certificate in Book-keeping.
  • Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Level 2 Certificate in Book-keeping.
  • The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) offers Level 1 in Basic Book-keeping and Level 2 in Manual or Computerised Book-keeping.

Apprenticeships are available for the accounting sector.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

Training is usually on the job. There are often in-house structured training programmes where emphasis is placed on Continuing Professional Development.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

A wide range of qualifications is available, including:

  • NVQ/SVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Accounting.
  • AAT Accounting Qualification
  • International Association of Book-keepers (IAB) Levels 2 and 3 Certificates in Book-keeping.
  • IAB Levels 2 and 3 in Computerised Book-keeping.
  • IAB Level 3 Diploma in Accounting and Advanced Book-keeping or Small Business Financial Management
  • ICB Level 3 Diploma in Book-keeping (non-accredited qualification)
  • ICB Level 3 Diploma in Book-keeping (Manual or Computerised).
  • OCR Levels 2 and 3 in Certificates in Accounting.

The Diploma enables you to keep your options open with a new choice of qualification.

With relevant experience and qualifications, accounts/finance clerks and book-keepers can become members of the AAT, IAB or ICB.


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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

An accounts/finance clerk needs:

  • Good numerical skills.
  • To enjoy working with numbers.
  • To be analytical, with good attention to detail and accuracy.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Customer service skills.
  • To be able to work on their own or in a team.
  • To have planning and organisational skills.
  • A good working knowledge of a company's financial structure, policies and systems.
  • To be honest, discreet and trustworthy.
  • To be IT literate.

Your Long Term Prospects

There are good prospects for career progression and a variety of opportunities may be available. These include, for example, progression through the management structure, becoming a supervisor, team leader and then manager.

With additional study it is possible to become a qualified accounting technician, for example after completing a higher-level course such as NVQ/SVQ Level 4 in Accounting or an AAT Diploma. This would enable individuals to produce financial reports and assist accountants with audits, and oversee the work of several accounts clerks.

Some clerks may move into specialising in a particular area, for example in payroll administration, accountancy or credit control.

It is possible to become self-employed, providing advice and support to smaller organisations.

Get Further Information

ACCA Connect (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants),
2 Central Quay, 89 Hydepark Street, Glasgow G3 8BW
Tel: 0141 582 2000
Website: www.accaglobal.com

Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT),
140 Aldersgate Street, London EC1A 4HY
Tel: 0845 863 0800
Website: www.aat.org.uk

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB),
1 Northumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5BW
Tel: 0845 060 2345
Website: www.book-keepers.org

Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA),
Burford House, 44 London Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 1AS
Tel: 01732 458080
Website: www.ifa.org.uk

International Association of Book-keepers (IAB),
Burford House, 44 London Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 1AS
Tel: 01732 458080
Website: www.iab.org.uk

ifs School of Finance, ifs House,
4-9 Burgate Lane, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2XJ
Tel: 01227 818 680
Website: www.ifslearning.ac.uk

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