What does ‘accountant’ mean? In simple terms, an Accountant refers to someone who independently maintains financial records, controls, and reports a company’s financial transactions. The purpose of accounting is to provide information to the relevant decision-makers about the status of a company’s economic activities to make informed decisions. The documents that are created in the method of accounting can either be on hand-copy or computerized.
The term ‘accountant’ covers any person who audits, measures, modifies, prepares, provides advice to the management about the financial records, company, organization, etc. The scope of accountant jobs is quite significant. There are different accountants like Chartered Accountants, Certified Public Accountants, Financial Accountants, tax accountants, mortgage accountants, auditors, etc. These job titles reflect the variety of accountant jobs available in the market.
As far as the qualifications required to become an accountant are concerned, the requirements are not very stringent. To practice as an accountant, one needs to have a high school degree and pass the examination conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. The candidates who appear for the exam performed by the ICAI are called Chartered Accountants. All those individuals who win the examination for the post of Chartered Accountant are called CPA.
Generally, all the accountants who want to be called professional Chartered Accountants need to pass the examination conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. Candidates who pass the exam are awarded a license. After being professionally licensed, the individual may start their career as an IAS (initiated accountants). This license does not facilitate them to practice as an auditor in any other institution. All the professional Chartered Accountants have to keep themselves abreast of all the changes in the taxation laws and the changes in the accounting standards.
The job titles of Chartered Accountants and IAS accountants imply that the individual has to supervise the activities of both jobs closely. There is no scope for regular casual supervision, as is the case with the general accountants. The auditor has to scrutinize all the financial records and prepare the audit reports.
A few simple accounting principles help the accountant provide reliable financial data to the management and enable them to make decisions regarding the resources required for the growth and welfare of the organization. All the employees of the organization need to be aware of the significance of accounting reports and its verification. The job titles also convey essential financial analysis, internal control, risk management, audit reporting etc. The financial data which is provided by the accountant is mainly used to implement the strategies of the management.
The major part of the work involves preparing the financial statements (in the case of IAs) or the tax returns. The accountants prepare the income statement, the balance sheet, the statement of cash flows and other related documentation such as purchase order papers. At times it may happen that the tax returns are prepared by the staff but they are not always accurate. These forms are generally prepared by the certified public accountant or CPA. The individuals who prepare these forms include chartered accountants, lawyers, accountants, junior accountants, investment bankers, payroll processors and others.
Chartered accountants generally concentrate on one or two areas of accounting. Most of the time they specialize in a particular field of expertise. The tax laws and regulations are so complex that it is hard for any one person to understand them. In such situations the services of an experienced Chartered Accountant are called for. It is advisable to discuss with your accountant on how you can benefit from the use of his services. They also help in drafting the financial statements in accordance to the existing tax laws.