Principal Accountant

Recruiter
Cognus
Location
London Borough of Sutton
Salary
£52023.40 to £64346.68
Posted
21 Jan 2021
Closes
10 Feb 2021
Ref
PACOGNUSJAN2021
Contract Type
Permanent
Hours
Full Time

POSITION: Principal Accountant

DIVISION: Finance Team

REPORTS TO: Managing Director (Cognus) and Assistant Director, Finance (LBS)

JOB TYPE: Full time (37 hrs a week), Permanent

GRADE/PAY: Band 5 £52023.40 to £64346.68

Cognus are seeking to appoint an experienced and innovative Principal Accountant to join the Strategic Leadership Team and to lead and manage an effective finance service for the Company.   Reporting jointly to the Managing Director of Cognus and the Assistant Director of finance at the London Borough of Sutton (company shareholder) this role will provide professional Finance and accountancy advice and support to the Managing Director to safeguard the Company’s financial standing and to support delivery of excellent outcomes for customers.

We are looking for a fully qualified Accountant with proven experience of producing or being responsible for the production of accurate statutory financial statements with previous work experience as a senior Financial Accountant or similar role. Knowledge of Local Government Finance along with the experience of financial software and reporting packages such as Xero, Agresso, Approval Max is desirable.   As the lead on the financial accounting for the Company, the postholder will be expected to ensure that the Company’s accounts are compliant with best practice, relevant legislation and codes of practice and lead and manage the finance team undertaking all financial activities for the Company including strategic, operational and transactional finance tasks.  The postholder will also lead on the preparation of the annual budget, Medium-Term Financial Plan and presentation of budget to the Board, Cognus Finance Committee and other forums as required and must be confident in dealing with the Board and advising non-financial managers in identifying and implementing savings, value for money improvements and cost mitigation activities.

Cognus is at a very exciting moment in its evolution and growth. We are looking for a professional and experienced individual who is passionate about the inclusion of children and young people in education and society. An individual that enjoys a varied workload, is organised, has great communication skills and has a good understanding of duties in relation to the areas of responsibility detailed in the job description and is committed to delivering with excellence.

You will give us great commitment and in return we offer an excellent package including:

  • Regular support and supervision
  • An excellent group of leaders as colleagues
  • Excellent CPD opportunities
  • Flexible working including home working
  • Workplace pension scheme
  • Salary - Band 5 £52023.40 to £64346.68 (cost of living increase to be applied from 1st April 2021)
  • 28 days annual leave pro rata (inclusive of three days between Xmas & New Year) increasing to 30 days with length of service
  • Perkbox and Sovereign Healthcare cashback plans
  • Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

If you are interested and would like to be considered for this role, please apply with a CV and covering note (of no more than two sides, minimum font size 11) outlining your suitability. The deadline for receipt is midnight on Wednesday 10th February 2021. Candidates are requested to be available via on-line interview week commencing 15th February 2021.  If you would like more information about this role before applying please email Rebecca McGeachy (contact details via our website) to arrange a brief chat about the role.

All offers of employment are subject to successful completion of recruitment formalities which includes an enhanced DBS check. These checks must have been completed prior to commencement of employment. We expect our staff to have due regard for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and to follow the child protection procedures adopted by the Company and the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.

JOB DESCRIPTION

  1.  JOB SUUMMARY
  • Works jointly to the Managing Director of Cognus and the Assistant Director of Finance at the London Borough of Sutton (company shareholder) to lead and manage an effective finance service for Cognus
  • Provide professional finance and accountancy advice and support to the Managing Director to safeguard the Company’s financial standing and to support delivery of excellent outcomes for customers
  • Lead and manage a team undertaking all financial activities for the Company including strategic, operational and transactional finance tasks
  • Lead the ongoing development of the finance team and support team members to achieve high standards of performance, creating a culture that recognises and rewards high quality professional practice and encourages continuous learning
  • Maintain the integrity of the Company’s financial records including oversight of the chart of accounts and all transactions to enable accurate and timely financial and management reporting
  • Ensure that there is an effective framework of governance and control for financial reporting, budget setting, monitoring of spend & forecasting, and budget management within the Company
  • Be accountable for the production of the statutory company accounts ensuring relevant guidance and legislation is followed, and all taxation requirements are met 
  • Provide high quality customer-focused financial information, support and analysis that delivers useful business insights to support effective decision making.
  • Identify financial risks and issues and contribute to their mitigation
  • Develop high standards of financial literacy throughout the company through delivery of relevant training and guidance to finance staff, budget holders, senior management and other Company employees
  • Work closely with partners in the London Borough of Sutton and other partners to meet all financial reporting and data submission requirements of the Company shareholders
  • Maintain oversight of all company contracts with external providers
  1. PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTABILITIES:

General:

  • To lead on financial accounting and ensure that the Company’s accounts are compliant with best practice, relevant legislation and codes of practice
  • To lead on the development of financial literacy across the company, supporting the achievement of Company objectives through sound financial management.

Financial Planning:

  • Agree and implement payment schedules for all services commissioned from the London Borough of Sutton
  • Implement appropriate creditor and debtor management processes, to ensure the accurate and timely recording of debtor and creditor balances, that the Company meets agreed payment terms to creditors, that aged debt is proactively managed and minimised and that bad debt is appropriately managed
  • Lead on the preparation of the annual budget, Medium-Term Financial Plan and presentation of budget to the Board, Cognus Finance Committee and other forums as required
  • Forecast costs and revenues within the financial year and for future years, reporting potential risks, opportunities or challenges to Senior Managers and the Cognus Finance Committee
  • Monitor and report on accounting discrepancies, drafting reports to senior management identifying variances, reporting on actions taken and identifying those matters requiring senior management attention
  • Gather and monitor financial data (e.g. sales revenues and liabilities)
  • Support managers to identify and implement savings, value for money improvements and cost mitigation activities
  • Provide high quality financial information and analysis and undertake complex financial modelling and forecasting to support decision making and budget planning. 

Budget Monitoring/Financial Reporting:

  • Prepare high quality financial reports on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis including all statutory statements (Balance Sheet, Profit and Loss, and Cash Flow statements)
  • Present financial reports to both finance and non-finance professionals, including members of the Management Team and the Board, on a regular basis offering insight and interpretation of the statements that supports proactive, timely and informed decision making
  • Establish and maintain effective governance and control systems and processes for the sound financial management and stewardship of Company monies, that supports effective budget management and enables statutory reporting requirements to be met. 
  • Provide information to ensure that statutory returns, grant claims, taxation returns, relevant FOI requests and other requests for financial information are produced in a timely and accurate manner.
  • Establish and maintain an effective quality control and compliance monitoring framework to allow early identification of financial issues and risks and seek remedial actions in the case of budget overspend
  • Within this framework, ensure that there is review and oversight of financial balances, transactions or budget monitoring including reviews of timeliness and quality of forecasts entered by budget holders. 
  • Work with external partners where relevant to ensure that relevant financial and non-financial information is provided to support consolidation and reporting.

Closure of Accounts:

  • Coordinate and implement effective processes to manage financial year end and ensure all accounting requirements are met.  Ensure budget holders are aware of the closure timetable and protocols to follow to ensure that the appropriate year-end adjustments (accruals) are actioned in time to meet statutory deadlines for both the Company and the Shareholders.
  • Perform month-end close processes including accurate month end accruals to ensure accurate and timely income recognition.
  • Respond to complex internal and external audit queries and recommendations in line with the Company’s current audit protocol with the aim of continually improving the Company’s financial management and reporting.
  • Ensure all work undertaken is compliant with Company financial regulations, standing orders, policies and practice, statutory requirements and relevant accountancy bodies guidance.
  • Maintain oversight of the Company’s Balance Sheet to ensure that all balances are understood, can be supported and represent real assets or liabilities
  • Provide financial year end information to the London Borough of Sutton for inclusion in group accounts, ensuring information provided is accurate, timely and meets relevant reporting requirements

Other:

  • To manage the Company’s external contracts with providers such as the Local Authority and negotiate service level agreements, service contracts and commercial operations, resolves issues and provides a contract management check to ensure that all services are meeting contracted requirements
  • Manage the Company’s compliance with taxation requirements including VAT and Corporate Tax, seeking support and guidance from the Company auditor where required
  • Provide appropriate support, guidance and training to enable officers (both finance and non-finance officers) to carry out their financial management responsibilities.
  • Participate in all Company staff management and development processes
  • Ensure all direct and indirect reports in the finance function have adequate supervision, training and support; ensure that tasks are allocated and work is planned and carried out in accordance with deadlines.
  • Undertake training and development to fulfil the requirements of the role
  • Work closely with the London Borough of Sutton Assistant Director of Finance to support both personal professional development ambitions and to lead the development of professional finance capabilities within the Company’s finance team
  • Deputise as required by the Managing Director or Services Director
  • Undertake specific complex project work including options appraisal or financial modelling as required
  1. PERSON SPECIFICATION: PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT

The main duties and responsibilities of the post holder are indicated below although other duties of an appropriate level and nature will also be required.

Criteria

  • Degree level or equivalent education  E, S,
  • Fully Qualified Accountant with full membership of a CCAB organisation such as CIPFA, CIMA, ACCA etc E, S,
  • Ability to use financial software and reporting packages (knowledge of Xero, Agresso, Approval Max will be extremely useful) E,S,T
  • Proven experience of producing or being responsible for the production of accurate statutory financial statements for a similar sized company E, S, T
  • Proven work experience as a senior Financial Accountant or similar role E, S, I
  • Knowledge of Local Government Finance D, S, I
  • Proven experience of contract management and managing service providers E, S, I
  • Proven experience of advising senior managers, members and budget holders on financial issues E, S, I
  • Experience of reporting and presenting to a wide range of stakeholders including Senior Management, customers and people with a non-financial background E, S, I
  •  People management experience (including leading, motivating, directing, inspiring and developing others) E, S, I
  • Advanced knowledge of MS Excel E, S, T
  • In-depth understanding of business bookkeeping procedures E, S, T
  • Knowledge and understanding of creditor and debtor management including the management of aged debt and effective payment processes D, S, T
  • Solid knowledge of accounting regulations E, S, I

  • Excellent numerical skills with an attention to detail E, S, T

  • Ability to make full use of information technology systems and digital tools E, S, T,
  • Ability to work under pressure, organise own workload and forward plan to meet statutory deadlines E, S, I
  • Ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing. E, S, I
  • Excellent Time-management abilities E, S, I
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality E, S, I
  • Ability to work as a member of a team and build effective working relationships E, S, I
  • Willingness to work flexibly in undertaking additional duties and further training as necessary E, S, I
  • Excellent organisational and management skills E, S, I
  • Ability to understand, implement and comply with the Cognus behavioural criteria E, S, I

Key:

D- Desirable

I- Evaluated at interview

E- Essential

S- Short listing criteria

T- Subject to test         

This job description and person specification outlines the summary of key accountabilities and is not an exhaustive list of duties and, is subject to periodical review and changes in line with the business needs.  

CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT:  

  • During the course of your employment, you will have access to and knowledge of Company confidential information and trade secrets.
  • Disclosure of any of this confidential information and/or trade secrets could have serious financial consequences and/or create serious competitive disadvantages for the Company. There may be material damage, financial or otherwise, deliberate or otherwise, to the Company’s legitimate business interest.
  • Under the terms of this confidentiality agreement, you agree to keep secret and shall not at any time, either during employment or post-employment, use, communicate or reveal to any person any trade secret or confidential information relating to the Company or any Associated Company.
  • You are aware of the Company’s policies in relation to compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation and undertake to act in accordance with these at all times. Any breach of these policies will be dealt with under the Company’s disciplinary procedure and action taken can include dismissal without notice.

  SAFER RECRUITMENT: 

An offer of employment is subject to safer recruitment practices which include an enhanced DBS check, two professional references acceptable to Cognus Limited, proof of qualifications, proof of right to work in the UK, proof of personal address and employment history covering 5 years and, fitness to work with children (Occupational Health Assessment). These checks must have been completed prior to commencement of employment. 

This job description and person specification outlines the summary of key accountabilities and is not an exhaustive list of duties and, is subject to periodical review and changes in line with the business needs.  

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