Accountants are one of the oldest professions known to mankind. They have been in existence since prehistoric times and their scope of work has transcended across the globe to include today’s developed countries. Accountants today have a wide range of responsibilities that range from advising and providing financial advice to companies and individuals in matters related to finances. In simpler terms, an accountant is a person who estimates and provides information relating to the financial assets of a company or organization.
Accountants can either be solo professionals or in the business of being an auditor. Accountants with a bachelor’s degree and above can work as full time or part time auditors while those with master’s degrees can engage in the business of being bookkeepers and/or tax accountants. There are also individuals who conduct audits as independent contractors. This career path is highly preferred by financial institutions, consultancies and other organizations who want to maximize their business and accounting resources.
The most important accountant job roles are as follows. While some accountants may perform all these roles and more, others can specialize in only one or two areas. A CPA, for example, can be considered a general accountant but his or her specific areas of specialization are tax preparation, audit, or preparation of financial statements. Similarly, auditors are accountants that focus on specific areas such as forensic accounting, corporate finance, internal control, government laws and regulations and review of laws and regulations.
Specializing in tax preparation is a great way of maximizing accountants worth. The ability to analyze tax returns, determine errors and reconcile them can be priceless. Auditors will often assess the accuracy of financial statements and determine how to fix them. For instance, wrong computations regarding the tax liability of a company can result in the company being granted an extension on paying taxes.
Another specialized area of specialization is in internal control. Internal control refers to the processes and procedures that are used to ensure that the company’s policies and procedures conform to applicable laws, regulations and internal standards. An auditor will verify that all policies and procedures are followed, all employees are properly trained in their responsibilities and that they are not abused. Auditors are responsible for ensuring that the financial records of a company are maintained appropriately and for ensuring that all necessary controls are in place. They will ensure that all employees and other parties involved with a company’s financial operations are conducting business according to accepted accounting principles.
The third area in which many accountants work is in audit. Audit refers to a process wherein an independent party (auditor) examines the activities of a company, both past and present, and tries to find ways to improve its performance. While most accountants work with the general auditing function, there are those who work exclusively with auditors. While some accountants work solely in conjunction with an auditing firm and provide them with their reports, others audit themselves and have the additional benefit of having the opportunity to prepare a report on any problems they may notice.
An additional aspect in which accountants must be competent at is financial statements. Financial statements are reports that summarize the financial information of a company, such as profit and loss statements, balance sheet, statement of cash flows, and other related financial information. Many accountants must be knowledgeable in different types of accounting practices such as reporting, balancing, and other methods. This knowledge is required because different types of financial statements are required to be presented in various reports, such as the annual report to shareholders or the financial statement.
Some of the job responsibilities that tax accountants perform are similar to those of attorneys and other accountants. They also perform duties similar to those of internal auditors. However, in order to be properly qualified to become an independent contractor, tax accountants must have a CPA designation. This is a license issued by the US Department of the Treasury that proves the individual has met a certain level of training in the field. A tax accountant may be self-employed but must be hired by a business in order to be entitled to the paid audit assistance. Tax accountants must be licensed through a state Board of Accountants.