ACCOUNTING IN THE COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY
Written by: Laurie Landon
Laurie has more than 16 years of experience in real estate accounting, specializing in third party management. As a Property Accounting Manager, has serves multiple owners and provides them with full service financial information including financial statement preparation and reporting, cash analysis and customer service. Keep reading for Laurie's insights into performing account for a CRE firm.
What does a day in the life as an Accounting Manager at Colliers look like?
For the most part, accounting is daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual and annual duties, but no matter how much you can schedule your day there are any number of things that can come up that need taken care of immediately. There are three things on my Outlook calendar every day. When I start work in the morning I review and decision positive pay exceptions for the 2 banks that we have the most bank accounts with. What this means is I decision ACH payments/checks that have been triggered by the respective bank as possible fraud withdrawals. The next thing is I review and approve invoices in Nexus for my properties. Later in the afternoon I transfer payable batches to Nexus Connect for payment issuing. Additional duties are helping others either internally or externally with questions/concerns and administering banking websites, MRI and Nexus. Weekly, I review and make decisions on the invoices that are On Hold or Rejected in Nexus, prepare check batches and meet with my accounting assistant. Monthly duties include reviewing financial packages, preparing financial packages, calculating management fees, preparing cash analysts, making mortgage payments and attending Udemy learning sessions with the accounting team. Quarterly and bi-annual duties are calculating, filing and paying CAT and making sure that real estate taxes are paid timely. Annual duties would encompass filing 1099s, preparing year-end financial packages and reviewing annual CAM recovery calculations.
How does working in property accounting differ from traditional accounting?
There isn’t really a big difference between CRE accounting and other types of accounting. Both have receivables, payables, assets, liabilities, owner equity, income and expenses. The difference is what type of each. For example in a CRE financial, the receivables are unpaid rent and CAM charges. In a service industry the receivables are unpaid service fees. The offset of this is the type of income recorded. In a typical CRE financial, the assets are cash, building, land, TI and commissions. In a retail financial the assets would be cash and inventory to sell.
What is something new your team is working on?
The accounting team is very focused on three things – finding and implementing efficiencies, personal/professional development and networking (internally and externally). In the last year, we have found efficiencies that can save anywhere from 10 minutes/daily up to 2 hours a day. We are always thinking how to “work smarter not harder”. A majority of our team has started their careers with us right out of college and we want to create and instill good habits early in their careers. We meet frequently to sharpen our accounting and Excel skillset, but also get together as a team for a quarterly book chat to work on our soft skills. The soft skills are often more difficult to teach than the technical skills. Each team member is encouraged and required to meet with someone outside our department every quarter to get to know them and what they do. These meet and greets often lead to interdepartmental collaboration (like noted below) and overall just good commandry among the departments. We are always breaking the mold of your stereotypical accountant!
What type of collaboration and interdepartmental processes is your team working on?
The accounting department is actually working really closely to find efficiencies with marketing, facility services and property management departments this quarter. We are using our expertise in process documentation and Excel to potentially find additional revenue sources or a quicker way to prepare quarterly marketing stats. All of these projects were a result of our internal networking and relationship building. We love learning what other team members do and seeing if our skillsets can assist them with any work struggles they may be facing.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I would have to say the people. I have been coming into the office every day now. You don’t get the comradery feeling when working from home.