An accountant is a person who manages financial issues, including the preparation of financial plans and budgets, as well as the management of accounts and staff welfare.
In most countries, officially licensed accountants are recognized by titles. In the UK, they are termed as “chartered accountants.” In the U.S., accountants are commonly known as “certified public accountants,” whereas in Canada, they are either known as “certified management accountants” or “certified general accountants.” Although most of the accountants in Canada also function as chartered accountants, certified general accountants are also authorized to practice public accounting and auditing in the country.
The main responsibilities of accountants are to create financial reports and to undertake day-to-day bookkeeping for managers, regulators, and shareholders. Accountants manage a double-entry bookkeeping system wherein there are two entries for every transaction are made, one to a debit account and one to a corresponding credit account. As per accounting rules, the sum of the debit and credit figures should be equal and any discrepancy in the total means that there has been an error. An accountant also audits and inspects the financial records of individuals or businesses, along with preparing financial and tax reports.
In the United States, accountants can obtain specialized certificates in varied fields where they can hold titles like “certified public accountant,” “certified internal auditor,” “certified management accountant,” and “accredited business accountants.” In the U.S., the governmental accounting standard board prepares accounting rules for making financial statements for publicly traded companies and private companies. Further, some of the accounting organizations that influence developing standard rules for accountants in the U.S. are the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
Some major firms recognized globally are PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young, and KPMG. Most accountants perform different kinds of accounting like cost accounting, financial accountancy, and management accountancy. Accountants are skilled professionals and are an integral part of the modern economy.