Accounting Matters: CPA vs. Accountant
Accountants and CPAs Defined
Accountant Essential Skills
- Management of financial data: Accountants must be comfortable working with large amounts of financial data in spreadsheets, charts, and other forms. They also must possess computer skills to maintain and utilize digital databases via different software programs.
- Advice and analysis: Accountants often need to provide financial advice to their bosses or management teams. Especially in smaller companies that don’t employ many financial professionals, CEOs might call on accountants to explain a business’s financial state in detail and advise on different courses of action.
- Reporting compliance: Accountants must operate within certain parameters, making sure they are compliant with regulations when it comes to reporting income, expenses, and other financial matters. In the event of an audit, accountants need to be able to answer questions or clear up any discrepancies.
- Finance report preparation: Accounts prepare financial reports for submission on an annual or quarterly basis. They often include investors or board members in these conversations, updating them on the company’s inner workings. Accountants frequently learn specialized software that enables them to prepare these reports.
CPA Essential Skills
- Accounting and business concepts: CPAs need to see the big picture when it comes to their businesses or clients, including their goals and financial plans. In turn, they better understand their role in the company and can manage their money in a way that makes sense for each client.
- Research, analytics, and problem-solving: CPAs must be ready to do hours of research, diving into files and documents to solve problems without clearly defined steps. This often requires creativity and problem-solving abilities.
- Communication: CPAs must be able to communicate with clients and management to better understand their projects and problems. They also must be able to explain potential issues.
- Project management: CPAs often work in teams or lead groups of accountants. They are able to delegate responsibilities and help others navigate problems.
- Ethical standards: CPAs must maintain high ethical standards, especially since some violations of federal law can come with prison time. CPAs ensure their clients adhere to legal and ethical standards and report those who refuse to do so.