Group Manager (Accounting)

It may be a cliché but it is true - 'money makes the world go round'. Business success depends on the financial standing of the company and non-commercial organizations like local government are no different. Councils have central accounting departments, sometimes known as treasuries, in which qualified accountants and their assistants work.  They may also work in other departments, like social services or education, which control their own budgets.  The group manager, accounting co-ordinates accountancy services across the whole council to ensure that standards are adhered to and that the best use is made of public money. There are accountancy departments in every local authority.

Work Environment
This is mostly office based with visits to other departments but some home working is often necessary. A large amount of time is spent in front of the VDU.

Daily Activities
The main tasks and responsibilities are preparing the council's consolidated annual accounts, maintaining the accountancy structures and reconciling the bank accounts.  Managers regularly advise finance staff throughout the council on all financial matters - accountants, assistants, accounting technicians, finance officers and clerks- and keep an eye on the council's bank account. This involves monitoring the accounts for fraud or error and running the council's income systems. Group managers liaise daily with their own team and other financial departments with the overall objective of improving targets and running the service in a more economic way. Occasionally, they will meet with members of the public and elected members.  The manager also works on special projects. They may be issues like a review of the accountancy code structure or internal recharges to other directorates. There are deadlines to be met that are determined by statutory mandate, the ending of the tax year, for example.

Skills & Interests
These should be both managerial and accountancy qualities and include:

  • practical ability; 
  • an ability to solve detailed problems; 
  • project management skills; 
  • a head for figures; 
  • an ability to get on with people from different backgrounds; 
  • an aptitude for organisation and planning.

Entry Requirements
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or relevant professional financial qualification, for example from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) suggest the following: A number of entry routes are available which take into account different qualifications and recognize previous achievements.

Entry routes
• ACCA Professional Examination Route (PER)

Over 18 years old with either:

  • 2 A Levels and 3 GCSEs (5 separate subjects including maths and English); 
  • Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) - up to Level B completed; 
  • AAT (UK) up to intermediate level completed; 
  • Advanced GNVQ (any subject); 
  • BTEC National Certificate; 
  • NVQ Level3/4 (any subject); 
  • degree from a recognised institution in any subject; 
  • ACCA Mature Student Entry Route (MSER).

The only requirement is that applicants must be over 21 years old and complete the first two papers of ACCA's syllabus within two years (4 examination sittings) before undertaking any additional papers. Exemptions Previous qualifications may entitle students to exemptions from ACCA examinations. Exemptions are awarded on the basis of qualifications that contain relevant content to ACCA papers at parts 1 and 2.

No exemptions are awarded at part 3. Examples of exemptions:

  • degree in accounting/accounting and finance; 
  • business related degrees; 
  • degree in Law; 
  • degree in IT.

Practical training - As well as completing ACCA's 14 examinations, students are also required to undertake three years relevant supervised experience before they are eligible for membership. This experience can be gained in any of a number of sectors (industry, commerce, public sector or practice) and can be undertaken before, during or after the completion of ACCA's examinations. Most people, where possible, combine both their work experience requirement and examinations together.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
There is a wide range of opportunities and prospects are good, even though it is a very competitive area with no clearly defined promotion path. It is sometimes necessary to move departments or councils or go to public agencies, like the Financial Services Authority, or to the private sector to progress - and this would normally entail more senior managerial responsibilities. The next step up for the group manager is Head of Financial Management (Assistant Director) and the top job in the council is Director of Finance.

Further Information & Services
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
Accountancy Age journal
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
Association of Accounting Technicians
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
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 ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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