The role of an accounts payable clerk is to look after the accounts payable of a company. The accounts payable may include supplier payments, invoices, payroll expenses, and other operating expenses.
Let us discuss what is an accounts payable clerk and the key roles and responsibilities.
What Does an Accounts Payable Clerk Do?
An accounts payable clerk is an important player in the payables department. The short definition of the job of an accounts payable clerk is to manage the accounts payable (AP) of a company.
The AP clerk records reconcile and proceed with the invoices and expenses of a company. The AP clerk oversees the payment procedures, transactions, and completes the payments transactions after verifying and reconciling the invoices.
The exact job description of an accounts payable clerk may vary depending on the size and complexity of the business. The clerk’s main job is to prepare and verify the accounts payable records for the senior accountant or the accounts payable manager.
One of the main activities of an AP clerk is to meet the payment deadlines for accounts payables, payrolls, interest payments, and other important expenses of the company. Thus, the AP clerk ensures that the company complies with its internal and external financial obligations on time.
Key Roles of an Accounts Payable Clerk
The exact job description of an AP clerk may overlap with a general accountant. However, there are some key roles that only a specialist AP clerk can perform.
Generally, the roles and responsibilities of an accounts payable clerk will include the following tasks.
- Maintaining the accounting records for the payable department accurately
- Keeping track of all payments and expenses including vendor invoices, payroll expenses, purchase orders, and operating expenses of a business
- Receive, review, verify, and process vendor invoices
- Maintaining the vendor accounts for timely payments and compliance with internal controls
- Reconciliation of payments through verification, rechecking, auditing, and other tools to maintain accurate financial records
- Processing payroll reports, preparation of checks, and arrangements for the payment of payroll expenses
- Communication with suppliers, vendors, and creditors about their payment schedules, outstanding credit balances, and other requirements
- Providing essential support to the senior management by providing accurate financial data
- Help and support in tax payments and audit preparations
The list of roles and responsibilities for an accounts payable clerk can go on depending on the complexity and requirements of a business.
How Accounts Payable Clerk Implements Internal Controls?
Financial internal controls are critical for the success of a business of any size. The accounts payable clerk and the department can liaison closely with the top management to implement internal controls efficiently.
One of the most effective ways to achieve that goal is through the segregation of roles and responsibilities for the accounts payable and internal control teams.
Some key responsibilities of an accounts payable clerk regarding the implementation of internal controls include the following.
- Implementation of financial compliance rules set by the top management
- Adhering to the financial compliance rules adopted by the company such as GAAP and FASB accounting standards
- Creating and maintaining vendor records with name, address, and business contact details
- Maintaining the vendor invoicing records
- Recording the receiving reports when goods arrive
- Evaluation of early payment discounts
- Ensuring timely preparation of vendor invoices and check preparations
- Reconciliation of accounts payable records to the general accounting ledger
- Receiving, recording, and processing the supplier tax forms
- Generating requests for cash needs and disbursements
- Generating financial reports for the use of top management
Key Skills Possessed by an Accounts Payable Clerk
An accounts payable clerk may possess different skills to perform the job satisfactorily. The preferred skills requirements by a company would depend on the complexity of the job and the size of the business.
Here are a few top skills that an accounts payable clerk must possess.
Invoice management is the most sought-after skill for an AP clerk. It includes recording, processing, and reconciling vendor invoices. This primary skill ensures the suppliers and vendors get paid accurately and timely.
Bookkeeping is an essential skill for any accountant. It helps an AP clerk to accurately record accounts payable records for a company.
Accuracy of the bookkeeping records would lead to the accuracy of the general accounting ledger and subsequently the financial statements of a business.
An experienced AP clerk not only performs the segregated duties but also offers input for the improvement of company procedures.
An AP clerk can offer valuable input for internal controls weaknesses and general procedures that directly affect the performance of the accounts payable department.
Preparation of financial statements begins with the accurate record-keeping of financial transactions. Payables are an integral part of the financial records of a company.
Therefore, an AP clerk plays an important role in providing accurate financial information to be recorded in the financial statements of a business.
Another major role that an AP clerk plays is to manage the payroll services of a company. Although a company can hire a payroll specialist, most firms assign that task to the AP clerk.
In many small and medium enterprises, accountants also serve for the customer services section. An accounts payable clerk can perform the customer services duties at the front desk as well.
Qualification Requirements for an Accounts Payable Clerk
An accounts payable clerk does not require a professional accounting degree. However, it is preferable for an AP accountant to have basic to intermediary qualifications in one of the following areas of education.
Some soft skills that could help the accounting clerk may include:
- Critical Thinking
- Problem Solving
- Interpersonal Aptitude
- Project Management
- Attention to detail and communication skills
An accounting clerk should also possess the skills to handle accounting software such as QuickBooks, Xero, etc. and be able to generate useful accounting statements and reports for the top management.
Accounts Payable Clerk Vs. Accounts Receivable Clerk
An accounts receivable clerk performs similar tasks but for the receivable accounts of a business.
When a business makes sales on credit, it generates accounts receivable (AR). The AR clerk is responsible for recording and processing the receivables. Other responsibilities may include generating invoices, reconciliation of payments received, and record maintenance.
An AR clerk also ensures each client is billed correctly. Also, the outstanding balances are pursued according to the credit policy offered by the company.
Generally, the tasks and responsibilities of both accounting clerks overlap with similar challenges and tasks assigned.
Related Jobs to an Accounts Payable Clerk
An accounts payable clerk job title is one of the junior posts in the payables department of a company. The career path of an AP clerk can progress with experience and additional qualifications.
These are similar professional accounting positions to an AP clerk.
- Accounts Payable Manager
- Accounts Payable Specialist
- Accounts Receivable Clerk
Although all of these professionals work in the same department, their job descriptions and roles can differ greatly. For instance, the role of an AP manager is supposedly more of a strategist than an AP clerk.