Accountants are financial professionals tasked with maintaining and interpreting financial records. Many accountants will perform different finance-related functions for either an individual or an organisation. The scope of their tasks usually varies according to the industry or the specific needs of an entity.
It’s important to note that some confuse bookkeepers for accountants. The two roles can have overlapping duties. However, accountants can be bookkeepers but bookkeepers can’t be accountants. This is because accountants have to get specific qualifications that bookkeepers don’t need.
In The UK this can include:
- ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)
- ACA (ICAEW Chartered Accountant)
- AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians)
- CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants)
- CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance)
Lastly, accounting is a blanket term that covers various job titles and roles within a company.
What Does An Accountant Do?
The duties of an accountant will vary depending on the entity that they’re working for. But, there are some tasks and responsibilities that are common among accountants, here they are:
- Reconciling bank statements.
- Tracking, recording, and cross-referencing financial transactions. This also involves reporting financial transactions.
- Making sure financial documents are accurate and compliant with industry regulations.
- Drafting and maintaining financial reports and financial statements.
- Preparing tax returns and ensuring the timely payment of taxes. Involves staying on top of tax laws.
- Assessing financial operations to identify issues and suggest solutions to promote efficiency.
- Guide efforts to reduce operating costs and maximise profit.
- Perform risk analysis assessments and forecasting.
Types Of Accountants In the UK
- Chartered accountants
- Self-employed accountants and/or bookkeepers
- Audit accountants
- Tax accountants
- Chartered Management Accountants
- Chartered Public Finance Accountants
- Forensic accountants
- Accounting technicians
- Payroll clerk/manager/supervisors
- Company secretaries
- Investment manager/analysts
- Cost accountants
- Financial accountants
The Types Of Accounting
With all the different components of accounting, it’s no surprise that it has subcategories. The following breakdown will give you a brief introduction to these subcategories:
- Financial accounting – Financial accountants track the transactions of their clients. They then summarise these transactions, after which they generate financial statements outlining them and their significance. Investors or stakeholders can then use the statements to assess a company’s value or financial trajectory.
- Managerial accounting – The purpose of management accounting is to simplify decision-making. It involves accountants tracking and reporting relevant financial information to management. Management then uses it to inform decisions.
- Cost accounting – With cost accounting, accountants also analyse financial records. They do it to determine the cost of products and services. They can also use their knowledge to drive cost savings. This is done by categorising and recording all operating expenses.
- Tax accounting – Tax accountants have extensive knowledge of tax laws and regulations. They use this knowledge to ensure clients are complying with these laws. This type of accounting involves preparing tax returns and making tax payments as needed. Tax accounts also often specialise in areas like corporate income or property tax.
- Forensic accounting – This involves the deep analysis of financial data. These analyses are used to uncover fraud, embezzlement, and other financial misconduct. Forensic accountants usually work on ongoing or anticipated legal issues.
- Non-profit accounting – The goal of non-profit accounting is to assess the financial situation of an organisation. By doing so, a non-profit organization can reduce cost and maximise the service they provide. The fact that it’s not designed to maximise profit is what separates this type of accounting from most others.
- International accounting – International accounting involves businesses that conduct business internationally. International accounting helps with the differences in accounting principles around the world. For example, this could be realigning foreign financial statements with local standards.
How To Become An Accountant
By now, it’s probably clear that accounting is much more than just crunching numbers. It’s a large field with many eager prospects, largely because of all the opportunities within the field.
If you want to become an accountant, you can rest assured as there are many resources to help on your way. Here are just a few:
- How to become an accountant (https://www.prospects.ac.uk/)
- Private practice accountant (GOV.UK)
- How To Become an Accountant (Indeed)
- Developing your career in accountancy (The Open University)
- How to become a chartered accountant (City.ac.uk)
What Are The Benefits Of Hiring An Accountant?
If you’re looking to hire an accountant, here are some ways doing so could be beneficial:
Accountants have in-depth knowledge of financial matters like tax laws. They can utilise this knowledge to simplify decision-making and guide you to financial health.
Accountants are skilled in recording and maintaining financial records also called bookkeeping. Because of this, they can easily ensure compliance. They’re also less likely to make basic errors if they’re using specialised software.
Both internal and external auditors can enjoy having an account’s support during an audit. This is because of how complex the process can be.
Outsourcing financial tasks to an accountant can save you a lot of time. This time can then be reinvested in other areas of the business. Hiring an accountant can also reduce stress.
What is the best accounting software for a small business in the UK?
What ethical standards do accountants follow?
In the UK the latest ethical standards come from the Financial Reporting Council which you can read here.
Globally, most accountants adhere to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). They may also follow the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
What GCSEs do you need to be an accountant?
In the UK, if you choose the academic path to becoming an accountant, you’ll need GCSEs at grades 4/C or higher, including English and maths.
This may discourage some, so do note that this isn’t the only route to becoming an accountant.
Also, many accounting firms are changing their requirements to broaden recruitment.
Where to Find The Best UK Accountants?
We’ve created guides to where you can find the best UK accountants in the 264 biggest cities and towns in the UK: