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Hiring or becoming a good accounts receivable manager isn't hard, on the surface. All it takes is a computer whiz, someone who's uber-organized, a great negotiator and a fortune teller -- all rolled into one. Effective accounts receivable managers have a dash of all these qualities, juggling everything from software to sweet talk to bring in the money.
The days of managing accounts by way of adding machines and register tapes are over for most accounts receivable managers. Today's bookkeeping often involves few to no books. Everything's computerized. Accounts receivable managers should be comfortable with using accounting software to keep track of accounts, generate reports, statements and invoices, and find pertinent information for clients and co-workers.
Don't assume, however, that just because most accounts receivables are on a hard drive that you don't need to know anything about math. Being able to spot an error on an invoice, run some numbers while discussing an account with a client or co-worker or just doing a little adding and subtracting in your head all require you to know basic math, a key skill that accounts receivable managers need.
Super Organizational Skills
Whether you're working in a huge corporation or a small business, part of being an accounts receivable manager is keeping track of a paper trail as you send statements and invoices out to clients and customers while also accounting for payments received. As a manager, you'll likely be managing the people who track these items for you, but regardless of the size of your department, you, too, have to be organized, as misplaced payments, neglected invoices and lost items all reflect on you in the end.
Nobody expects you to predict the weather as an accounts receivable manager, but you'll often be asked to forecast something just as important to your organization -- who will pay on time and who won't. No one gets it right all the time, but the closer you are to the mark and the better your reconciliation reports, the more valuable you are to your employer. Additionally, many accounts receivable managers are in charge of deciding what repayment terms clients and customers receive, either by researching past performance or by running credit checks and getting references, so a knowledge of the best practices for determining creditworthiness is a valuable quality to have as well.
The cold, hard truth is not all clients and customers are going to pay on a timely basis or at all without a little encouragement. As accounts receivable manager, you usually get to handle the foot draggers, initiating the collections process to try to get some or all of the payment due. The better you are at having difficult conversations with people, the better your chances of success when it comes to collecting from the slow-to-pay and the almost-impossible-to-collect accounts.
A writer and information professional, J.E. Cornett has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Lincoln Memorial University and a Master of Science in library and information science from the University of Kentucky. A former newspaper reporter with two Kentucky Press Association awards to her credit, she has over 10 years experience writing professionally.
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