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This is a background article. See Psychological studies of accountants
Accountant, or Qualified Accountant, or Professional Accountant, is a certified accountancy and financial expert in the jurisdiction of many countries. Such as other legally-restricted professions including medical doctors and lawyers, different countries have their own training and examination systems to maintain the practice quality and restrict the number of qualified accountants in their jurisdictions.
Accountants originally worked only in public practice, selling advice and services to other individuals and businesses, but today, in addition, many work within private corporations, the financial industry and various government bodies.
Accountancy (profession) or accounting (methodology) is the measurement, disclosure or provision of assurance about financial information that helps managers, investors, tax authorities and other decision makers make resource allocation decisions.
Practitioners of accountancy are known as Accountants. There are many professional bodies for accountants throughout the world, some of them are legally recognized in their jurisdictions. Such as British qualified accountants including Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA or FCCA) or Chartered Accountant (CA, ACA or FCA), Canadian qualified accountants such as Chartered Accountants, Certified General Accountants and Registered Public Accountants (CA, CGA or RPA)as well as American qualified accountants such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation is unusual in the United States in that it does not have a statutory basis. However it is accepted by industry and by its peer associations. In Canada the Canadian CMA desingation is recognised under provincial/territorial legislation.
What does an accountant do?
Since Accountants are independent business advisers, they are in a position to help the clients build and develop their businesses. Accountants can offer an extensive range of services. Some of the types of services they may offer are listed below.
Auditing a company
Accountants, who are legally registered auditors, may audit a company's accounts - such an audit may, in some circumstances, be required by law.
Assurance and Information Integrity
Accountants also can provide a variety of services that improve and assure the quality of information, or its context, for business decision-making. And also be ensuring that financial statements reflect fairly the financial performance of the company.
Preventing, detecting, and investigating financial frauds such as embezzlement, securities fraud, tax evasion, and money-laundering schemes.
Addressing how companies can be both environmentally responsible and profitable. This includes focusing the variety of projects like environmental compliance audits and managing and preventing claims and disputes.
Expert witness work
Accountant who has his/her own country's registry of expert witnesses who meet stringent criteria - all hold practising certificates, have undertaken suitable litigation training, have had experience of acting as an expert witness, and have been able to provide references from legal practitioner who have engaged them.
If the clients are facing the possibility of personal bankruptcy or corporate insolvency, an accountant with his/her own country's insolvency licence can provide the clients with invaluable advice. If professional advice is sought as soon as the signs of trouble appear, then insolvency/bankruptcy may be avoided. If the clients are a trade creditor and are concerned about a debtor or have been told that a debtor is insolvent, a licensed insolvency practitioner can investigate and advise on the best course of action. To become an accountant with his/her own country's insolvency licence, stringent criteria must be met and an ongoing experience requirement must be achieved if the licence is to be renewed each year.
Accounting and Bookkeeping
Advice can be provided on setting up business systems, from basic bookkeeping (cashbook) to comprehensive management reporting. Some accounting firms will undertake the bookkeeping function, which may also include VAT return preparation. Practitioners can also assist in the preparation of year-end accounts.
Accountants may set up systems to ensure that the clients know how their businesses are performing. Additional services offered include budgeting and performance monitoring and helping to ensure that a business runs in a smooth and efficient manner.
International Services & Accounting
Provide services to support and facilitate commerce in the global market. Moreover, companies adopting International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) may need accountants to help reconcile IFRS with their local GAAP. Professionals with knowledge of U.S. GAAP who work well in an international environment are increasingly in demand.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Accountants may offer advice on how to finance a business and how to buy or sell a business, as well as other related considerations. Such as providing a variety of services to organizations and individuals that interpret and add value by utilizing a wide range of financial information. These include everything from tax planning and financial statement analysis to structuring investment portfolios and complex financial transactions, and evaluating financial information to assess liquidity, solvency and stability issues of a firm and provide meaningful information which serve as the basis for management to make informed decisions.
Advice may be sought on pensions, unit trusts, life insurance etc., from advisers authorised to give investment business advice.
Tax - statutory requirements and planning opportunities
Accountants are able to offer advice on tax including corporation tax, income tax, capital gains tax, PAYE and VAT. In addition, business advisers can also offer tax planning advice and minimise your tax liability now and in the future.
Accountants can provide independent advice to managers of businesses, such as provide advice and insight on the financial and non-financial performance of an organization's operational and strategic processes through broad business knowledge and judgment. Such help can be used in a variety of ways, including:
- providing an external independent view
- overseeing the stewardship of the chairman/chief executive and board members
- encouraging and developing new ideas
- assisting the company in difficult situations
- bringing specialist knowledge
- maintaining an ethical climate.
Advice on starting up a business
Accountants may offer advice on the legal form most appropriate to starting up a business. In addition they may advise on related legal and taxation issues, business plans for presentation to banks, and what you should expect when starting up a business.
- IFACnet - A KnowledgeNet for Accountants in Business
- A free CPA resource wiki
- Example of Accountant Resumes - UA
- IFRS or formerly IAS information
- Accountant Forums
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