The different types of accountants: How to become an accounting advisor?

By Nguyen Oanh
Published: 11/02/2022
definition backgroundThe different types of accountants: How to become an accounting advisor?

Usually, we speak of accounting in the general sense in finance: it actually encompasses the different types of accountants.

Chartered accountants, certified public accountant CPA, government accountants, staff accountants, cost accountants, forensic accountants, etc. All have their specificity and their area of expertise.

As a business owner, you are a bit lost and do not know which type of accountants meets your needs, and what your financial obligations are?

💡 If you want to know more about the definition of different types of accountants and accounting, and what you need to start your accounting career, take a look at our article on the subject!

12 types of accountants

Chartered accountant (CA)

The chartered accountant (CA) was the most reputable order of the general public because the specifics of its functions were more precise than others. Until 2010, the chartered accountant was known for auditing accounts but was able to broaden his skills by becoming an essential business advisor. It was this special role that made companies tend to turn to him, as they felt he was less likely than others to make mistakes.

The roles of chartered accountants in corporate finance:

  • Offer accounting services to companies by improving the quality of financial, accounting, and even decision-making information in order to guide decision-makers towards the right decisions.
  • Control, analyze, audit, and even sign the financial statements, corporate taxation report of companies (internally) in his private practice

👉 Don’t you know that this tax specialist was recognized by an official authority, which offered a guarantee to its providers.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a license for financial advisors. The CPA license is provided by the national accountancy department of each country. This designation respects the accountancy standards.

CPAs advisor holding a public accounting license must at all times meet the following obligations:

  • Have finished 150 credits under new/old curriculum and/or under APL or CTF
  • Have completed 3 years of continuing education
  • Satisfied with the working experience and 3 years of CPD (Continuous Professional Development) requirements

Holders of this license may, if they wish, indicate their CPA auditor designation in other contexts of practice, such as on their business cards and letterheads and in their advertising.

You have 18 months to finish all four CPA Exam sections with a minimum score of 75. You have to test your eligibility and submit for the CPA exam.

Government Accountant

Government accountant is an important department that prepares, reviews, and classifies all the financial statements for the government.

The roles of government accountants in corporate finance:

  • Provide advisory services to organizations to ensure the reliability of financial data recorded in the government financial system
  • Ensure compliance with accounting standards, principles, and policies
  • Carry out financial analyses and participate in work related to the financial data produced by the organizations
  • Suggest improvements to procedures in order to enable entities to control their financial data
  • Prepare public accounts, including consolidated financial statements, and other government financial reports
  • Contribute to the evolution of accounting standards and taxation laws

Working for the government, this advisor role requires profiles that have the core, specific and interpersonal competencies and personal qualities to perform the duties of government financial analysts.

Staff accountants

The staff accountant is the privileged adviser of the manager, in legal, tax, and social matters. The staff accountant advises him in all the stages of the company's life, including in case of financial difficulties. Finally, the staff accountant also has the role of management. In other words, staffs help the manager to create and analyze his performance monitoring dashboards.

Companies are all subject to the same financial obligations, which is why bookkeeping and the preparation of annual financial accounts require the following of strict procedures that are identical for all financial advisors. The staff accountant, who is in the front line, is therefore obliged to respect the accounting standards in force within the framework of his staff role.

Cost accountants

Cost accountants and staff accountants are the parts of management accounting.

⚡ Reminder: The difference between general accounting and management accounting

  • General accounting provides an overview of the company's accounts
  • Management accounting proposes to analyze and interpret them in order to facilitate decision-making. The purpose of management accounting is to deconstruct the costs inherent in each value creation, by calculating the profitability of a product, a project, or an activity, the value of inventory (with the contribution of margin, for example).

The roles of cost accountants in corporate finance are to:

  • identify what causes losses and what generates profit,
  • identify financial growth levers and areas for financial optimization,
  • implement a financial plan to reduce the gap with forecasts and increase overall profitability.

Forensic Accountant

Choosing a specifically chartered accountant for legal problems (also known as a forensic accountant) is a major advantage. Indeed, the forensic accountant has its own accounting characteristics and obligations. Thus, a forensic accountant will allow you to answer these particularities and will better master the accounting plan of your financial system.

Indeed, whether it is for the creation of your law firm or the management of your accounting, the follow-up of a forensic accountant will ensure you total conformity with the corporate taxation and tax rules which apply to you. The role of a chartered forensic accountant is also to help you choose your legal status and set up your company.

The cost for a forensic accountant depends on several criteria, the most important being the scope of your financial needs and the size of your corporate organization.

Project Accountant

The main objective of a project accountant is to create financial reports and accounting documentation to track the financial progress of a specific project or business function that can help financial advisors ensure the proper management of their project.

The project accountant only works during conventional working hours with accounting software to assist internal and external project managers. Its role is to analyze and evaluate the data recorded to make a report and give financial recommendations.

His roles in corporate finance include:

  • Maintain project files
  • Review budget variances
  • Approve and manage expenditures by project
  • Ensure the issuance of invoices
  • Manage incoming and outgoing invoices
  • Collaborate with and advise project managers on financial issues
  • Submit government and corporate taxation reports
  • Identify gaps and develop financial solutions for the company

Investment accountant

The investment accountant records the company's receivables and payables at the time the commitment is made, without them yet being materialized by financial flows in order to maintain the investment flow of the financial situation. This may be the case when an invoice is issued or received, for example.

This requires regular bank reconciliations to verify that the financial flows correspond to the entries in the commitment accounts. It gives a much more accurate representation of the result and the assets and ensures a precise follow-up of the collection of receivables.

Accounting and financial auditor

The accounting and financial auditor establishes an examination of the financial situation of companies, aiming to verify their sincerity, their regularity, and their financial ability to reflect a true and fair view. Most often an independent financial advisor, the auditor may be internal or external, link to the company by a contractual or legal assignment.

Beyond this verification mission, the auditor must evaluate the risks inherent to the company, taking into account its sectorial, legal, and competitive environment and its organization, thus bringing a critical dimension. This analysis allows the auditor to define the financial situation of the company, its role regarding compliance with accounting standards and principles, and to announce the restructuring necessary for the company's success.

The roles of auditors in corporate finance include:

  • Research and centralize financial data of your company
  • Control and examine the keeping of financial accounts and summary financial documents, respecting the accounting standards
  • Identify the risks specific to the company, make corporate taxation reports
  • Formulate relevant financial conclusions and recommendations

Tax auditor

The tax auditor is responsible for the financial management and bookkeeping of public funds. This individual also controls the admissibility and conformity of taxpayers' declarations, both private and professional, in order to fight against corporate tax fraud.

In case of contentious issues with the public, the tax auditor may also be required to carry out audits, investigations, and if necessary, seizures or blocking of accounts. Finally, the tax auditor can play an advisory role in budgetary management for local authorities, private and public hospitals, as well as for corporate companies.

The roles of tax auditors in corporate finance:

  • Supervision of staff and completion of drafting work
  • Informing and advising taxpayers on their legal and tax obligations
  • Calculation of the amount of the taxpayer's taxes
  • Tax auditing in matters of corporate taxation
  • Collection of corporate tax debts and analytics reports
  • Collection of corporate tax revenues and analytics reports
  • Financial and accounting management of public finances
  • Processing of litigation files
  • Provision of expertise on accountancy tax regulations

Public financial accountants

The public financial accountant is a fundamental player in the corporate budgetary management and control of the public finances of the country and the various public companies.

Its main duties are to trace and verify the various financial operations (revenue and expenditure) of public money decided by its authorizing officer. He is responsible for handling public funds and ensuring that the accounts are properly kept.

The roles of the public financial accountant in corporate finance:

  • Execute revenue, expenditure, and cash flow operations for the budget of your company
  • Manage the general and budgetary accounting and the accounting of inactive assets
  • Check the validity of recovery and payment orders as well as debts, and corporate taxation reports
  • Keep the funds and securities entrusted to him
  • Manage the handling and the movements of the financial accounts
  • Keep all the supporting documents for operations and accounting documents sent to him by his authorizing officer

Self-employed accountant or bookkeeper

The independent management assistant is an individual who provides valuable assistance in preparing the financial records, under the supervision of individuals, the company's accountant, manager, or public accountant. The self-employed accountant will effectively relieve you of the accounting preparation. The self-employed accountant provides administrative support to the day-to-day accounting, performing the following tasks:

  • Drafting and editing of estimates
  • Data entry and control of customer invoices
  • Follow-up of unpaid invoices
  • Entering of company’s expense reports
  • Reconciliation of supplier orders and delivery notes
  • Management of supplier invoices and preparation of payments
  • Preparation of salary payments
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Calculation and declaration of VAT
  • Filing of invoices and financial statements

What do you need to become a professional accountant?

Being an accountant is the wish of many job seekers. Most companies call upon such an accountant advisor. This career will open up many opportunities for you. If you are comfortable with numbers and rigorous, this position is perfect for you. There are many training courses that will allow you to achieve your goals. Here are a few pieces of information to help you find your way.

What skills are required to work as an accountant?

For an accountant, rigor is essential. Indeed, he must manage sensitive data relating to companies and individuals. They must also be able to explain their procedures to their clients.

An accountant must be autonomous and organized. These qualities are important for the respect of the different deadlines set by the social organizations or by the administration. The accountant must be able to work in a team, especially if he/she works in a large industry.

The mastery of accounting software is an asset for an accountant. In order to carry out his tasks, the use of payroll or forecasting software is essential. He/she must also know how to use word processing, messaging, and spreadsheet tools.

💡 Check out this article about accounting software to have some advice and choose the right one for your business!

What are the roles of an accountant?

The accountant's role keeps the accounts of a business or an individual client. Using various data, he or she prepares certain financial documents or carries out closing operations. This financial career must therefore be versatile since he/she is in charge of:

  • Social and taxation declarations;
  • The preparation of the business's annual financial statement;
  • The recording of accounting operations of your company;
  • The preparation of the company’s payslips.

The roles and missions of an accountant in corporate finance vary depending on whether he or she is self-employed, working for an SME (small or medium-sized company), or for a large business.

What is the salary of an entry-level accountant?

In recent years, the salary of accountants has changed considerably. The accountant’s salary depends on the size of the business where the financial advisor works. A junior accountant earns around £29,000 per year. If he/she occupies an accounting management position, the accountant’s salary will be on average £84,500 per year without counting bonuses.

What training do I need to become an accountant?

In the UK, ATT is the most popular entry-level training course because you’ll need no prior experience. The program takes between 18 months and 3 years depending on your study route. The course can be given at college or through remote learning. You also have to choose your own specialty, as there are different types of accountants with diversified roles. To become a chartered CPA, you also have to pass the CPA exam.

You can also check out AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians). This accountancy organization provides to interested individuals very popular accounting training courses.

Different types of accounting

There are different types of accounting such as cost, managerial, and financial accounting, etc. But the most common types of accounting are general accounting or financial accounting and cost accounting.

General accounting

General accounting is used to keep the accounts of a company or organization, recording all activity in a chronological manner.

Compulsory, except for micro-businesses, it allows you to know your financial health and the value of your assets, by producing a number of financial documents:

  • the income statement lists the business's income and expenses,
  • the balance sheet maps the assets (what the business owns) and liabilities (what the business owes),
  • the accounting appendix provides useful information for understanding the income statement and the balance sheet of your company.

The role of financial documents is essential to communicate the financial situation of the business to investors (potential or real), suppliers, banks, customers, and the country for the calculation of the tax base.

💡 It is important to note at this point that accounting is based on several major financial principles and in particular: the principle of continuity of operations, the principle of independence of exercises, or the principle of prudence.

Cost accounting

Cost accounting records financial flows into and out of a business. It creates an accounting entry for each cash inflow and outflow, based on bank account activity.

It is reserved for sole proprietorships under the non-commercial profits’ regime, and for certain companies under the industrial and commercial profits’ regime. It is a simple solution to manage and less time-consuming than commitment accounting, and therefore less costly.

FAQ about accountants

Should I hire an accountant?

Not really, each company has its own accounting obligations!

The accounting obligations of a business vary according to the legal status and the tax system for which it has opted. Thus, a self-employed business will benefit from ultra-light accounting and its manager will be able to easily carry out his financial obligations by himself.

Otherwise, a business subject to corporate income tax will have much more complex accounting and reporting corporate obligations. The manager of the big company will quickly realize the importance of calling on a financial advisor or a chartered accountant to do its accounting. It will then be able to choose between hiring a forensic accountant, subcontracting to a chartered accountant CPA, or, why not, mixing the two solutions.

How to become an accountant without a degree?

Do you need an accounting degree to be a chartered accountant? The response is NO! Accounting is more of a practical career, and you can easily learn on the career to build that solid foundation in the field. You can acquire the necessary training for the career simply through accounting certifications.

To become an accountant without a degree, first of all, chartered accountants handle money, and to get this career, you need to be pretty good with numbers. You'll deal with purchasing, budgeting, payroll, corporate taxation reports, and even financial reporting. You can also check financial numbers.

Whether you deal with the financial accord, corporate taxation, or are a management accountant, a high level of numeracy and strong analytical skills are required. Chartered accountants must also be honest and thorough.

Do accountants need to master Excel?

The answer is YES. Excel is a must-have financial software that accountants need to master.

In fact, this spreadsheet will allow you to manage your accounting and to make graphical presentations, ideal for visualizing figures that may be abstract to non-accountants!

Moreover, its advantages are no longer to be proven. In addition to simplified accounting, it allows you to illustrate financial data, it is customizable, allows you to develop accounting models, automate tasks such as data entry, link data from external files, facilitate the process of the financial statements… It is the software most used by small and medium-sized businesses.

In conclusion, there are so many different types of accountants (forensic accountant, chartered accountant, tax auditor, CPA, etc). You have to know what their roles and their skills requirements are to choose the right one and improve the financial health of your business.

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