For the majority of co-op or condo owners, their apartment is their largest asset. That apartment should be viewed as an investment and one that makes fiscal sense. But that approach is impossible if unit owners are missing important parts of their building’s big financial picture. While each unit owner or shareholder is responsible for managing their own personal finances and doing their part in maintaining the value of their investment in the building, the board and treasurer in particular have fiduciary responsibilities to honor in order to keep the building community in the black.
Board treasurers and professional accountants balance a building community’s books and hold its purse-strings, so trust and confidence in their motivations and abilities are crucial. The working relationship between the board treasurer and the accountant, and the ways in which they both help the board manage the affairs of the community, are crucial to running a functional, solvent co-op or condo. To create such a cooperative and businesslike climate, the board must make choosing the best people for those jobs a top priority. First, you have to know what to look for in a good job candidate.
The treasurer could be the most essential of all of the unpaid, volunteer board members’ jobs. Even so, many boards don’t recognize the importance of the treasurer job and the necessity of picking a person who has at least some basic qualifications to serve in the position. The job is usually filled by appointment and is filled by a fellow board member. Sometimes, the board’s disregard for proper qualifications can result in unqualified people taking the job and quickly getting in over their heads.
“It is extremely helpful if the person chosen as treasurer has an accounting background,” says Robert Mayer, of the accounting firm of Mayer & Co., in Deer Park. “At minimum, they should have some sort of financial background, to understand the management reporting.”
A treasurer must also understand accounting principles, says Andrew Brucker, of the Manhattan-based law firm Schecter & Brucker. “It’s probably the most technical position on the board. The treasurer is the intermediary between the board and accountant and the shareholders and accountant,” he says, adding that the best treasurers work closely and collaboratively with their building's accountant.