Accountancy Assistant

Accountancy assistants normally work in a council's central finance department alongside accountants.  In addition, accountants and accountancy assistants may work in other council departments such as education, environmental services, leisure, etc, managing individual service budgets.  Accountancy assistants might also be called finance assistants or finance clerks.  An accountancy Assistant would assist with a range of accounting and finance related functions such as assisting in preparing financial accounts, coordinating reports and returns as well as ensuring compliance with corporate standards and guidelines.

Work Environment
Accountancy assistants spend most of their time in the office working on the computer. They may sometimes have to visit other council departments.  They usually work a standard 37-hour week, but must be flexible.  Some overtime work maybe available.  Part-time work and job-sharing are possible in many councils.

Daily Activities
Accountancy assistants' duties may include:

  • to assist in the compilation and monitoring of revenue budgets;
  • keeping financial records;
  • producing and analysing figures for accountants or department managers;
  • helping to prepare and audit accounts;
  • checking invoices;
  • checking and processing expenses claims from staff who have to travel away from their base offices;
  • preparing monthly VAT returns;
  • monitor cash flow and arrange short term loans and deposits (Capital/ Treasury Team);
  • assist with preparing claims and returns according to guidelines;
  • to monitor accounts and prepare reconciliations and to maintain accounts, guidelines and registers outside the main accounting systems;
  • assisting in the provision of financial advice and analysis;
  • to supervise the work of clerical staff and trainees;
  • to assist in the training and development of junior members of staff and trainees.

Some accountancy assistants help prepare annual budgets or grant applications for funding from the UK Government or European Union.  Others work as part of an audit team, monitoring the council's accounting systems.  They visit different departments, ask to see random samples of paperwork and financial records and check to see that these are correctly completed.  Their exact duties vary according to whether they work in a central accounts sectionorin an individual department. Accountancy assistants employed in social services forexample, may deal with payments to companies who supply equipment to care homes.  In education they might assist in preparing the annual budgets to be allocated to individual schools.  In a pensions section they may assist with collecting contributions from staff salaries and paying them into the pension fund.

Skills & Interests
Accountancy assistants must:

  • have strong numerical skills;
  • be accurate and pay attention to detail;
  • be able to work to tight deadlines;
  • have good written and verbal communication skills;
  • have a good telephone manner;
  • be capable of working without close supervision;
  • have a good knowledge of computerised accountancy systems.

Entry Requirements
There are no minimum entry requirements.  However, individual councils often ask for a minimum of five GCSE/S grades at C or above, including English and maths.  A level/ Degree or a relevant NVQ/SVQ Level 2 or previous work experience requiring literacy and numeracy may be acceptable alternatives.  Accountancy assistants are given on-the-job training and may work towards NVQ/SVQs in Accounting at Levels 2-4. By completing these and gaining approved work experience they may also become members of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).  Forsome posts, previous experience of working in a finance office and experience of creating and maintaining spreadsheets may be an advantage.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
A small council might employ up to 20 accountancy assistants.  In a large council there might be over 100, working in different departments.  There are prospects of promotion to senior accountancy technician or finance officer, responsible for the work of several accountancy assistants.  Accountancy assistants who gain AAT membership may take further training to become accountants.

Further Information & Services
Association of Accounting Technicians 
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants 
Institute of Chartered Accountantsin England and Wales 
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants 
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy

Careers Wales have produced a Spotlight article on careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths):  

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( in your local library, careers officeor school careers library.

Related Links