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Ten Types of Accountants and What They Do

Ten Types of Accountants and What They Do

Accounting jobs come in various forms, and they aren’t one-size-fits-all. These roles are as diverse as the professionals who hold them. All cover a wide range of duties and specialized functions. Here are 10 common accountants you’ll find working in the market:

1. Certified Public Accountant

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a title given to licensed accounting professionals. Each state’s Board of Accountancy grants the CPA license, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) offers guidance on the licensure process. The CPA designation plays a crucial role in upholding professional standards within the accounting industry.In many cases, CPAs are accountants who carry out similar responsibilities as non-CPA accountants. However, CPAs have specific roles exclusively available to them. These responsibilities encompass conducting audits for publicly traded U.S. companies and creating audited financial documents like balance sheets and income statements for businesses.

CPAs can engage in various aspects of the accounting field. They could specialize in fields such as forensics, financial planning, and taxation. CPAs are also required to meet ongoing educational criteria, and maintain a set of ethical standards.

Businesses will hire a CPA when they need a bit more formality and process within their division. Another opportunity is when an accounting department is heavy on transaction-focused talent and needs someone to help put everything together and audit what’s going on. Typically we see a premium on candidates with a CPA of between 10-25% of the market rate.

2. Certified Management Accountant

Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) are financial professionals who play a pivotal role in making strategic financial decisions, typically within large corporations or government entities. Their expertise is particularly valuable in scenarios like business expansion. CMAs excel in handling the financial aspects associated with taking on new responsibilities, such as acquiring liabilities and hiring additional staff. They are adept at analyzing the costs and potential gains of new ventures, offering valuable insights to organizations. CMAs may also provide guidance on managing risks and making investment decisions to optimize financial outcomes.

When senior managers make important strategic decisions for their organizations, they must evaluate the financial well-being of the company and understand how specific choices may impact it. This is where a management accountant plays a crucial role. They assist business leaders by performing tasks like budgeting, planning, analyzing profitability, managing risks, and providing financial reports to internal stakeholders. Effective communication is a key skill for management accountants because they must organize information and present it to business executives in a clear and easily understandable format

3. Cost Accountant

Businesses hire cost accountants to make their firm more profitable. These experts look at the costs of making or delivering products and find ways to spend less. They also help decide how much to charge for things. Cost accountants check all the costs in a company’s supply chain, like labor, materials, shipping, making things, and running the office. They collect this information and give it to the company’s leaders, who use it to set prices and budgets.

Cost accountants need to understand inventory management. This includes keeping track of inventory and figuring out its cost. They typically know about four methods to calculate costs: first in, first out (FIFO), last in, first out (LIFO), weighted average cost (WAC), and specific identification. Also, cost accountants often work with business leaders to find ways to make things run more smoothly, and their advice is important when deciding how much to charge for products.

Businesses typically hire a cost accountant when they need a better understanding of their actual costs and profitability. Typically we see these candidates utilized in a manufacturing or construction setting.

4. Property Accountant

Property Accountants review and analyze accounting records to create financial statements, offer guidance, or audit and assess statements made by others. They may also set up or offer guidance on systems for recording expenses and financial data for budgets. A property accountant’s role involves monitoring all the money flowing through a specific property and sharing the findings with the asset manager and senior management.For companies with extensive property holdings and multiple properties, having one or more full-time property accountants on staff is typically necessary. Smaller firms also require property accountants, but they may not need to hire one full-time. Therefore, it’s common for smaller firms to engage freelance property accountants or contract them through a recruiting agency.

5. Tax Accountant

This is the accountant who dedicates their career primarily to tax preparation. Tax accountants often choose to work at public accounting firms, which serve a wide range of clients, including individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies. Alternatively, they may opt for positions at large corporations, where their tax expertise can benefit the organization’s financial health. Tax accountants working with diverse clients should excel in communication and listening skills.Tax accountants play a vital role in helping individuals and businesses adhere to the Internal Revenue Code during the tax filing process. They interpret tax laws, explain the consequences of tax law changes, assist in planning for future tax returns by identifying strategies to defer, minimize, or eliminate tax payments, file tax returns on behalf of clients, and handle audits with tax authorities.Businesses will typically hire a tax accountant for a few major reasons. Businesses need to stay ahead of tax season, as well as any evolving opportunities for tax savings during major financial changes. In addition, a tax accountant can help with strategic planning, and helping stay abreast of any new tax law changes.

6. Project Accountant

Project accountants oversee specific projects, and they can either be regular employees or contractors hired for a particular company initiative, such as building a new facility or launching a new product. Their role encompasses managing every aspect of the project that could affect its overall cost or revenue generation. This includes tracking expenses, verifying billable hours, generating customer invoices, updating budgets, and recognizing revenue. By closely monitoring project-related expenses, they can provide management with insights into whether the project is staying within budget.Strong communication and interpersonal skills are crucial for project accountants since they collaborate with various colleagues, including accounting teams, project managers, and external suppliers. While they are often employed by construction and engineering companies, project accountants can find opportunities in virtually any industry

7. Auditor

Auditors play a vital role in ensuring the accuracy and compliance of an organization’s financial records with tax laws, regulations, and accounting standards. They are responsible for verifying that an organization’s financial information is reasonably accurate and does not contain significant errors, which could be substantial in large companies, often amounting to millions of dollars. Auditors identify discrepancies and provide guidance on how to rectify them. They also assess the controls in place to prevent fraud and suggest ways to enhance operational efficiency.Most companies undergo annual audits to ensure the integrity of their financial records. Auditors can work either internally, as part of the company they examine, or externally. In the latter case, external auditors, typically certified public accountants (CPAs), operate independently of the company being audited, serving as impartial third parties. The role of an auditor includes scrutinizing financial statements, inspecting accounting records, assessing financial operations, and offering recommendations for improving these processes.

8. Fund Accountant

Fund accountants play a crucial role in the day-to-day financial management of mutual or institutional funds. Their responsibilities include preparing accurate and timely accounting information for these funds, such as net asset values, yields, and distributions. They also handle the accounting for various investment portfolios, which can include securities, real estate, or commodities. Additionally, fund accountants calculate and report net asset values per unit and create standard weekly and monthly financial statements, as well as income and expense accruals.On a daily basis, fund accountants analyze various financial metrics to assist organizations in determining the value of their funds. They also compute and report income, expenses, and accrual statements, including dividend or interest income worksheets and other schedules like those for T-bill investments. Furthermore, they track and record various security transactions, such as trades, interest payments, maturities, and corporate actions. Their findings are promptly reported to clients while ensuring compliance with relevant laws and protocols. Typically, fund accountants hold at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or related fields.

9. Financial Accountant

Financial accountants are responsible for maintaining a comprehensive record of an organization’s financial performance over time. Their role involves recording, summarizing, and reporting all transactions related to the company’s business activities. Financial accountants ensure the precise recording of financial transactions and generate financial reports. They oversee various areas, including managing accounts payable and receivable, as well as maintaining the general ledger. Additionally, they investigate financial discrepancies, reconcile accounts, rectify errors, and collaborate with senior management to prepare detailed financial statements.

10. Forensic Accountant

Forensic accountants scrutinize financial records to ensure compliance with standards and laws, and they often uncover omissions, errors, or fraud. Dealing with financial data that can be challenging to obtain, they must be resourceful, striving to investigate and recreate missing or unavailable information. They frequently collaborate with IT professionals to locate and access data online and on computer networks. Proficient in resolving intricate financial matters, forensic accountants may also act as expert witnesses in court trials. They are typically employed by insurance companies, banks, government agencies, and public accounting firms.

Forensic accounting combines accounting, auditing, and investigative expertise to scrutinize the financial affairs of individuals or businesses. These specialized accountants, who are often Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), focus on uncovering evidence of financial wrongdoing. They typically find employment with insurance companies, financial institutions, and law enforcement agencies. Forensic accountants delve into financial records and accounts that can serve as crucial legal evidence, and they frequently appear in court as expert witnesses. They work on various cases, including those involving fraud and embezzlement, where they elucidate the intricacies of financial crimes during legal proceedings.

No matter what type of accountant you’re looking to add to your team, Frederick Fox can help. Reach out to James Aiken at (864) 417-8431, or click this link to book a time to get introduced directly: Recruiting Strategy Discussion