An Accountant is a person who is skilled at keeping books of accounts accurately and properly. The financial expert furnishes the data necessary to assess the current and future economic activities of individuals, businesses, governmental bodies, non profit institutions, etc.
Apart from preparing financial statements and proofing business transactions, he also has the added responsibility of calculating efficiency gains and computing costs for new techniques, participate in mergers and acquisitions set ups, and develop IT systems to track key parameters like financial performance, tax strategy, etc.
Based on the role one assumes, let us discuss the different forms:
Book Keeping is an entry level position in accounting. Yet, bookkeepers are a valuable asset to the accounting team as they contribute data through invoices and cheques. It is this data that form the premises for rest of the accounting work.
An auditor represents various entities like individual clients, companies, Federal, State, and local governments, and analyzes and communicates their financial information. He keeps accurate public records and ensures timely payment of taxes, thus helping ensure firm's efficiency. Other than carrying out the primary occupational tasks, he also provides requisite information to clients by preparing, analyzing and cross checking financial documents.
- Public Accounting Professional
He is a general financial expert who either has his own private practice or he works for an accounting firm. His usual chores include a wide range of activities that include auditing, financial and tax planning, consulting and providing compensation and benefits related advice. In US, the qualified professionals who have passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination get the statutory credential of Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
- Forensic Accounting Expert
He is also known as investigative auditor or forensic auditor, uses his accounting, auditing, and analytical skills to assist and aid the courts in legal matters. He investigates high profile white-collar crimes including issues like securities fraud, embezzlement, bankruptcies, etc.
- Financial Advisor
He provides prudent investment guidance and financial planning services to individuals, businesses and governments. Typically, clients consult a financial advisor with a motive to improve and enhance their financial health.
- Tax Professional
He is a taxation know all and be all. In US, the Treasury Department authorizes tax professionals to represent tax payers in front of all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for audits, appeals, collections, etc.
- Accounting Consultant
He is a subject matter expert exhibiting high level of proficiency when it comes to preparing of pro-forma financial statements, financial reports, etc. He also acts as an analyzer, interpreter and evaluator of financial reports and statements for various statutory and regulatory authorities and organization's internal management. He can help address all of the financial needs of a business.
He typically audits government accounts and is the head of the accounting department. He supervises the cash flow within an organization.
With the boom in internet technology, new titles like Certifies Internal Auditor (CIA) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) too are gaining momentum.
It is thus clear that by taking up any of the aforesaid roles, the finance professionals are capable of many tasks besides the standard ones.