Finding a gifted lease accountant is complicated. You need a project manager who can see the big picture to ensure long-term compliance. But you also need a technical accountant who’s a stickler for details.
The key to finding the best talent is asking the right questions in the interview.
Soft skill questions
#1 How do you go about learning technical information and getting answers to challenging questions about GAAP, accounting best practices, etc.?
ASC 842 and IFRS 16 leave a lot of room for interpretation. You’ll need a resourceful accountant who has access to knowledgeable thought leaders. A good lease accountant can distill the language of the new standards into something easily digestible and actionable for you and anyone else working on your lease accounting project.
#2 Tell me about a time where you led a project that involved participants from multiple departments.
Putting together a cross-functional team for your lease accounting transition is one of the steps we outline in our 14-step transition guide. The fact is, that team will remain in place well after you implement the new standards, albeit with fewer meetings.
To ensure your ongoing compliance and that you’re capturing lease data moving forward, you need an accountant who can manage those relationships and develop processes that stakeholders throughout the company can follow.
#3 Do you have experience developing business metrics?
The new standards give you insights into your company’s lease obligations that you didn’t have before. That enables you to help business units and departments throughout the company save money before they enter or renew leases:
- Identify the best lease terms.
- Make informed lease vs. buy decisions.
- Forecast and budget on leases by any allocation.
You should look for an accountant who can develop these reports and offer analysis that helps the company make more informed leasing decisions.
#4 Tell me about your approach to evaluating, implementing, and using accounting software.
The ideal candidate should be able to help you identify and select the best lease accounting software for your business. If you’ve already chosen a solution, you need someone who can learn how to use it quickly. Otherwise, you won’t maximize the ROI of purchasing the software.
#5 Are you willing to be the company’s point person for all lease accounting?
People throughout the accounting department and the company will have questions about the new standards and the way they affect processes, financial statements, and lease agreements. Your lease accountant should be willing to serve as a resource for that information.
You want someone who can also defend the judgement calls you will make, as there may be some disagreement on your interpretation of the standards, new processes, system selections, etc.
#6 Do you have experience writing memos?
Whether they’re for internal communications or clarifying points with auditors, clear, well-developed memos keep lines of communications open. Being able to write them well is even more critical for lease accounting, because you’ll be making so many judgement calls and process changes that need to be clearly communicated.
This is just half the list of questions you should be asking lease accounting candidates. To get the 6 technical questions you must ask, complete the form below.