Senior Financial Accountant

Heriot Watt University
Full Time
£44,414 - £52,841 a year
Posted 30+ days ago
Job description

Job Posting Title: Senior Financial Accountant

Grade and Salary: Grade 8, £44,414- £52,841

FTE and working pattern: Heriot-Watt University is a campus-based organisation. We do however support connected hybrid working which can be discussed on successful appointment

Organisation Name: Finance Directorate

About Heriot-Watt University

At Heriot Watt we are passionate about our values and look to them to connect our people globally and to help us collaborate and celebrate our success through working together. Our research programmes can deliver real world impact which is achieved through the diversity of our international community and the recognition of creative talent that connects our global team.

Our flourishing community will give you the freedom to challenge and to bring your enterprising mind and to help our partners with solutions that can be applied now and in the future. Join us and Heriot Watt will provide you with a platform to thrive and work in a way that also helps you live your life in balance with well-being and inclusiveness at the heart of our global community.

Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business and languages.

With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, which has made it one of the top UK universities for business and industry. We connect with industry at every level and develop programmes to match their needs : so employers get work-ready industry-fit graduates.

Heriot-Watt is also Scotland's most international university, boasting the largest international student cohort.

We have an established set of values that help us to nurture innovation and leadership, and show our commitment to continuous improvement and development in all our activities.

For full details on our University please view our Careers at Heriot-Watt

About our Team

The Finance team is one of the Professional Services supporting the University's mission and its strategic priorities.

On a day-to-day basis, it does this by delivering a range of financial operations:

  • routine financial transactional processing in payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable
  • sound management accounting, including ensuring the availability of accurate and timely financial management reporting; and effective budgeting and planning
  • effective operation of financial systems
  • effective and timely delivery of statutory financial reporting

In addition, the Finance department supports the delivery of the University's strategic plan through effective financial planning, including capital investment planning, project appraisal and identification of sustainable funding streams.

Purpose of Role

The purpose of the role is to:

  • ensure the financial integrity of the transactions associated with all aspects of the University's research activity.
  • ensure the University's research income and cost is accounted for in accordance with accounting standards, internal policies, and relevant legislation. provide technical expertise to the Finance Directorate and the wider University on technical accounting matters relating to research activity.

Summary of Key Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Ensure the financial integrity of the transactions associated with all aspects of the University's research activity. Maintain clear and accurate records for audit purposes, complying with University regulations, sponsors requirements, accounting standards and relevant legislation.
  • Provide technical accounting support to the RGO team, Finance Directorate and the wider University to ensure the University's research income and costs are accounted for in accordance with accounting standards, internal policies and relevant legislation.
  • Be the expert and key point of contact on research accounting matters to the Finance Directorate and the wider University.
  • Provide and interpret financial information for external bodies.
  • Liaise with external partners, such as collaborating Institutions, funding bodies and auditors when required.
  • Review/prepare journals, accruals and prepayments relating to research.
  • Ensure appropriate financial controls are embedded in research accounting processes, with an appropriate testing regime that is monitored which allows the role-holder to provide assurance over the financial integrity of the transactions.
  • Ensure reconciliations are prepared timely and escalate issues to senior management where appropriate.
  • Liaise with relevant internal and external experts to ensure VAT and Tax matters in relation to research are accurately recorded.
  • Support the year end audit and statutory accounts process in relation to research activity.
  • Prepare and submit reports to external bodies to support research funding.
  • Prepare ad-hoc reports, the reports will include financial information and narrative as required and will involve drill-down to investigate issues.
  • Oversee the allocation of research costs to the relevant project.
  • Attend internal and external meetings with senior school management as the expert on the research accounting.
  • Ensuring relevant ERP processes are embedded.
  • Frequent interaction with colleagues at all levels, including:
  • University Senior Leadership Team
  • Finance Senior Leadership Team
  • External Auditors
  • GCFO, Deputy Director of Finance
  • Finance colleagues

Education, Qualifications & Experience:

These are the criteria on which the short-listing and recruitment selection will be made


  • At least five years of post-qualification financial and management accounting experience within a large, complex organisation.
  • Nationally recognised accountancy qualification e.g., CA, ACA, CPFA, CIMA, ACCA.
  • Experience of working within a similar environment as outlined above, experience of University Research processes.
  • Competent in the use of relevant IT packages
  • Demonstrable substantial professional expertise in own specialism
  • Well-developed understanding of relevant legal, statutory and governance applications and turning them into good practice
  • Excellent interpersonal, influencing and presentation skills, able to understand and communicate complex issues effectively
  • Ability to persuade, motivate and influence
  • Demonstrable excellent customer service
  • Demonstrable ability to work quickly, flexibly and accurately in a dynamic, changing and pressured environment
  • Experience of working closely with stakeholders across all levels of the organisation
  • Ability to research, analyse and present complex information effectively with good attention to detail
  • High level planning and organisational skills with the ability to prioritise major developments and to function effectively in a pressured environment
  • Demonstrable professional and proactive approach
  • Ability to work effectively both independently and as part of a team
  • Experience of working in Higher Education

Competencies, Tasks and Responsibilities

The tasks and responsibilities listed under the following Competency Headings form part of all professional advice and support roles in the University at this level and it is expected that the role-holder will perform them to at least an effective standard at all times.

At Heriot-Watt University we understand that being diverse makes us better, which is why we support a culture of respect and equal opportunity, and value diversity at the heart of what we do.

We want to increase the diversity of our workplace to underpin a dynamic and creative environment. Applications from candidates who require sponsorship to work in the UK will be considered alongside other applications. For further information on this please visit the UK visas and immigrations website

We welcome and will consider flexible working patterns e.g.; part-time working and job share options. The appointment is also conditional upon successful completion of all labour and immigration formalities for non-UK or relevant, and the start date may need to be delayed if the employment visa is not in place.

Use our total rewards calculator:

Initiative and Problem Solving

  • Anticipate problems and devise solutions and strategies to mitigate detriment to service and University.
  • Provide advice and guidance on complex and non-standard queries, using personal knowledge and experience
  • Use initiative and creative ideas to resolve non-standard problems using experience and reasoning to reach an effective conclusion
  • Promote and deliver innovative solutions
  • Prepare and deliver training and briefing sessions to provide tools, techniques and support to relevant customers and stakeholders
  • As a specialist, provide solutions in a specialised field operating at a high level of competency.

Clear and Consistent Communications

  • Maintain confidentiality at all times by following university policies and guidance in managing confidential information and personal data
  • Using all forms of media, including Social Media where appropriate:
    • Write/review papers, policies, guidance and briefings for internal and external audiences and stakeholders
    • Write letters, emails and other direct communication to individuals and groups
  • Provide detailed explanations of systems, procedure or technical information both verbally and in writing
  • Break down and condense complex systems and procedures into easily understood procedures and processes that may be carried out by others
  • Communicate clearly on matters relating to your specialist knowledge to non-specialist and senior level audiences
  • Interpret, prepare, analyse and deliver reports
  • Communicate and liaise with the whole of the University, as well as regular contact with external bodies.

Planning and Organising

  • Support the operational planning of short term strategy and provide input and opinion on long term strategy in line with University objectives.
  • Support the setting of performance standards and regular monitoring processes within the service which will measure and ensure targets are met
  • Plan, prioritise, and organise your own work or resources to meet planned objectives and requirements and to ensure the timely delivery of agreed service objectives in line with customer needs
  • Plan, organise, co-ordinate and facilitate meetings, workshops and larger events ensuring effective use of resources and budget.

Service Excellence

  • Support the development of the strategy and standard of service level delivery for your team within the School or Directorate strategic plan.
  • Comply with University Policies when managing or processing personal and other confidential information at all times
  • Provide timely and appropriate guidance and advice on policy, procedure, legislation and local processes
  • Provide expert advice within your area of knowledge and expertise
  • Create a positive image of the University by being responsive, prompt and courteous when responding to requests or enquiries from customers
  • Proactively seek to understand and react to the needs and requirements of the customer
  • Work with colleagues within the department to contribute to the continued review and improvement of the service.
  • Produce timely reports for management as requested
  • Liaise with internal and external teams, committees, bodies etc. to ensure an effective service.
  • Advise staff and students on all aspects of service provision
  • Contribute to the management of the School/Service as whole through membership of the appropriate committee structure

Team Work

  • Understand the relationships between teams internally and externally and work collaboratively and effectively within your School/Service, sharing expertise and contributing to the development of the Operational Plan
  • Participate in working groups within the university and externally if required, sharing ideas, experience and providing technical advice
  • Contribute to and provide support and encouragement across the team
  • Build cooperation and set example by demonstration a flexible approach
  • Cover for team members and peers, including deputising for senior members as appropriate

Decision Making

  • Develop the service or change existing work practices that affect the whole team taking into account conflicting advice and opinions
  • Provide specialist advice and support to others to enable development of strategy, direction and vision
  • Provide timely and accurate advice to customers and stakeholders based on knowledge and experience.
  • Assess the risks of various options and work with the relevant customer/stakeholder to achieve the optimum outcome

Management Responsibilities

  • There are no line management responsibilities within this position but you may be asked to take on management or supervisor duties on occasion as part of your personal development
  • Under the direction of a senior staff member if required, monitor the budgets of the work area/research area/grant, making sure it operates effectively within budget constraints and maintaining appropriate stocks and financial records e.g. expenditure, purchasing, equipment.
  • Manage one-off projects as directed by line manager


  • Demonstrate the University Values at all times through performance and behaviour
  • Participate in ad-hoc duties to support the team/University and for personal development
  • Support newer or inexperienced colleagues within and outside the University by offering support, help and advice
  • Positively promote the University internally and externally through positive behaviour and supporting University-wide activities

This job description is intended as a flexible framework which outlines the key general areas of activity in your position. Other activities may be required which are not outlined above but which are appropriate to the position and grade. Your personal objectives (Forward Job Plan) will also set out specific tasks and objectives for you to achieve, including objectives to help your career development.

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