What is an Accountant?

What is an accountant? What is their role? The simple definition of an accountant is a person who keeps, audits and inspects financial records. What the accountant actually does is very much dependent on the size of the company he or she is working for and what the accountant actually specialises in.  As a general rule of thumb though, an accountant will be responsible for the financial records, taxes and issuing financial reports.

The accountant is one of the most important people that a business will ever hire.  It does not matter whether you are running a small family business or a large corporation, your accountant is responsible for ensuring the financial health of your company.

An accountant for a smaller business may be responsible for all aspects of the financial records including payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable and keeping track of company investments.  Larger firms of accountants are normally also responsible for carrying out internal audits to ensure the accuracy of records. However, because of a conflict of interest this cannot be carried out by the accountant that your business regularly uses. It is normal practice for an external firm of auditors to be brought in purely for this job.

Many accountants choose to specialise in a certain field of accounting, such as taxes, auditing or book-keeping. If you are only looking for an accountant to deal with one aspect of your business then it is best to choose one who specialises in that field rather than one who deals with the whole range. You will get a much better and more personal service.

Depending upon the type of field the accountant is working in he may be required to be state certified.  This is essential for those who choose to specialise in auditing and other accounting matters of a sensitive nature. However, if you are an accounts clerk who works under a state certified accountant you do not need to become certified yourself.

Most accountants are also members of one of several professional bodies and should attend regular meeting and seminars in order to keep up to date with the latest changes and laws with regards to accounting practices.

A good accountant should be able to help you plan your business finances in a way that is the most beneficial for you.   They can help you to set company budgets to ensure that your outgoings are kept in line with your income, keep track of any investments your company may have and advise you when to invest and when to move your money somewhere else to get the best return.

They are generally responsible for the day to day financial running and welfare of your business. If you hire an accountant then you should listen to what they have to say as they could be the difference between the survival and failure of your business.  An accountant is probably the most important member of your staff that you will ever hire and should be considered money well spent.  No business decisions should be made without consultation with your accountant first.