Types of Accountants
Just as there are types of accounting, there are also types of accountants.While there are many ways to classify accountants, the most common division is between public and private accountants. Public accountants mainly deal with financial accounting (the preparation of financial statements for external parties such as investors).
Private accountants deal with both financial and management accounting. Public accountants receive a fee for services provided to individuals, businesses and governments. Public accounting firms vary greatly in size and the type of services provided.
Most public accounting firms provide some combination of auditing, tax and management consulting services. Small firms mainly provide tax or bookkeeping services for smaller companies and organizations that do not have internal accounting departments.
Larger firms usually provide these services to firms that have internal accounting departments. Because all public companies are required to have yearly audits, the large public accounting firms are extremely important for fulfilling this requirement.
The four largest accounting firms arc known as the “Big Four,” and are among the most well-known organizations throughout the world. (Previously, it was the Big Eight, which became the Big Six” and then the Big Five when PriceWaterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand merged to form Pricewaterhousecoopers. Because of the collapse of Arthur Andersen, we’re now down to the Big Four. Seep. 10 for basic information on the Big Four.)
The Big Four is made up of:
- Deloitte & Touche
- Ernst & Young
Many students pursuing accounting careers aim to start their careers at one of the Big Four firms. The Big Four have offices throughout the United States, as well as in many other countries. These firms recruit at a majority of the top schools throughout the world.
In addition to the Big Four, there are thousands of other accounting firms ranging from small companies to large international partnerships. The difference between these firms and the Big Four is size, often measured in terms of billings.
The Big Four have billings in excess of $1 billion a year. A large majority (97 percent) of companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange are clients of the Big Four. Regional accounting firms represent clients that do most of their business within the U.S., although they may also have a few international clients.
The largest regional firms can be thought of as somewhat smaller versions of the Big Four. And as the category name suggests, these practices tend to be stronger in certain regions. If you’re considering working for a regional public accounting firm, be sure to research the quality of tile [urn’s practice in your area. The large regional players include Grant Thornton, BOO Seidman, and Jackson Hewitt.
Local accounting firms operate in a small number of cities and tend to focus on small businesses and individuals. These organizations conduct more tax and tax planning engagements and traditionally handle more of tile
bookkeeping responsibilities for their clients.
While most people start their careers at a public accounting firm, many gain valuable experience in public accounting and switch lo the private sector after two years (or however long it takes them to get certified as a CPA). Accountants with public accounting experience are well positioned to take financial officer positions at corporations, government agencies or non-profits.
Private accountants work for businesses, government or non-profit agencies. Corporations – Most corporations have an internal accounting group that prepares the financial information (both tax and audit) for the public accountants, tracks company performance for internal evaluation and works with management on issues related lo acquisitions, international transactions and any other operational issues that arise in running of the company.
Within corporations, there are several roles that an accountant can take on.These include, but are not limited to the following:
perform financial accounting tasks within an organization. Typically, these employees will perform audits of specific divisions or operational units of a company.
Can work in several different areas of a corporation. On the finance side, accountants can work in the financial
planning and analysis or treasurer’s group, analyzing potential acquisitions and making funding decisions for the company.
On the accounting side, there arc opportunities within the accounting group to handle tax issues and to work with external auditors to prepare financial statements such as SEC filings. Additionally, on the accounting side, opportunities exist to work within specific divisions lo track costs and analyze operational performance.
Government accountants can work at the federal, state or local level. Many governmental organizations have large accounting departments to analyze the performance and allocation of their funds.
The Department of Defense (DOD), the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) typically hire large numbers of accountants for services and evaluations within the organization.
Accountants at the IRS typically review individual and corporate tax returns. The SEC hires experienced accountants
to evaluate filings made by public companies. These accountants ensure that firms arc complying with SEC regulations.
Accounting for non-profits is very similar to for profit accounting; they both follow Generally Accepted Accounting
Principles (GAAP). In addition to understanding GAAP, non-profit accountants must also understand the FASB standards written specifically for these organizations as well as the lax regulations specific to those organizations. (For example, non-profit organizations are typically exempt from federal taxation.)
The accounting groups in these organizations are typically smaller than those in for-profit companies, so an employee may be responsible for more than one area or accounting (e.g., both financial statements and tax issues).
Originally posted 2016-09-08 17:39:03.