How to Become an AP Manager
by Jamie Radford
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have worked your way up from the bottom, starting as an accounts payable clerk, moving through promotion after promotion to get to management level in order to find a rewarding job as an accounts payable manager. With some background in a finance role, working within reputable companies, along with a good qualification (not necessarily a degree), you can make your mark in the AP management arena.
AP manager roles are usually located within the head office of a large company, so when you start your job search, concentrate on those types of businesses. Also work on getting your skillset up to scratch as well as brush up on your education, taking further courses if necessary. Amongst numerous other duties, AP managers generally manage the accounts payable function for the entire company, ensuring all invoices are submitted to the relevant head of department for approval – only once they have passed through the AP manager’s iron grip. The role also includes managing a team, monitoring overall communication with suppliers and making certain that all invoice-related queries are handled in an efficient manner, all the while upholding high customer service standards, because the supplier is still a customer!
Another part of the AP manager’s role is to maintain good relationships with both suppliers and internal staff, not only their own team. This includes monitoring performance objectives set by the company’s directors and ensuring that all members of the team are carrying out their relevant duties correctly and if not, arranging training where required. When the AP manager supports their team, promotes teamwork and accessibility, morale and productivity is boosted. Therefore, being an AP manager definitely requires people skills!
Needless to say, accounts payable managers always need to be efficient and on top of their duties so as to safeguard the company’s budget from unnecessary losses in the form of interest on overdue invoices. Ensuring invoices are processed and paid within the normal terms of trading is essential. Adhering to strict controls and standards is yet another of the AP manager’s responsibilities, including VAT and other compliance standards, ensuring that all deadlines with regards to supplier terms and conditions are met. The manager is also in charge of sometimes very hefty outgoings, so a management role within accounts payable is certainly not for the faint-hearted!
The ideal AP manager has completed school with GCSE level mathematics, has excellent interpersonal skills, has some management skills from a previous role or from studying a postgraduate diploma of some type, is able to motivate team members under them and is most definitely computer literate in at least Microsoft Excel, Word and Outlook. Anyone interested in becoming an AP manager should also be able to liaise with customers appropriately. Handling vendor invoices, being adept at dealing with financial statements and being able to follow procedures is also vital to this role.
If you have good experience within an accounting or finance role and want to take the next step in your career, consider taking the APA Manager’s Course to become a certified AP manager and to open up further opportunities within your career in accounts payable.