Of all the members of a condominium’s board, the treasurer is in a unique position to uphold the fiduciary responsibility of the association, similar to that of a chief financial officer in the corporate world.
Basically, the treasurer is “the financial representative of the board and the interpreter of such information,” says Chad Clark, a partner in the Woburn, Massachusetts firm of Roselli, Clark & Associates, Certified Public Accountants. Treasurers must be familiar with their association’s expenses and keep watch over how residents’ money is spent, in addition to organizing that information and keeping the board and unit owners informed about the condominium’s financial standing. The position carries with it great responsibility and a requirement for precision and care—a wrong move or careless calculation can have dire consequences for the association’s finances.
The Right Stuff
Ideally, a treasurer would have a background in finance or business to help make quick work of financial statements, internal controls and budgeting and enable him or her to decode the language of investments, corporate taxes, yields, risks and costs in their sleep. The ideal treasurer would also have the dedication and the available time to fulfill his or her duties and maintain an open line of communication with management, the board's attorney, the association’s accountant and financial advisers to ensure that the condominium’s money is well spent and wisely invested.
But as most board members are well aware, most board positions are part-time positions held by volunteers, the duties of which vary depending on the size of the community. There’s not always an MBA with tons of time on their hands around when you need one. “A good understanding of general accounting standards would be beneficial and experience or education in understanding basic financial statements would also be beneficial,” says Sondi B. Stanton, a certified public accountant at Stanton, Schmiedel & Co. in Woburn, Massachusetts. “In my experience, most of the treasurers don’t have tax experience but can understand their tax situation with explanations from the accountant that prepares the returns.”
Clark, agrees, and notes that a good treasurer can look beyond the paperwork, too. “Ultimately, the most successful treasurers are those who develop the ability to read and understand the financial reports provided to them by the management company,” Clark says. They are not only able to inquire about financial transactions or unexpected results thereof, but they also can look to the future and anticipate if a condominium has adequate funds to achieve its goals and whether other sources of revenue must be considered or cost cutting measures employed.”