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Division of Responsibilities in Accounting

by KJ Henderson

Accounting professionals create and review financial records. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that records are accurate and their individual or corporate clients’ business operations run smoothly. Accountants are typically required to possess a bachelor’s degree. In addition, they must be licensed certified public accountants (CPAs) if the documents they create are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. An accountant’s specific job title indicates his day-to-day responsibilities.

Responsibilities of Public Accountants

Most people immediately think of public accountants when discussing the accounting profession. These individuals prepare income and sales tax returns for individual, corporate and government clients. For corporate clients, they also prepare financial documents that are required by law, such as disclosures that are distributed to potential investors. They may also work in forensic accounting. In this capacity, they examine banking records to determine if any illegal transactions have been made. The nature of a public accountant’s role requires them to be current on federal, state and local tax regulations, as these laws change quite frequently.

Responsibilities of a Management Accountants

Management accountants are found in the business world, in small business and Fortune 100 companies alike. They review financial statements, such as sales data and expense reports. Their goal is to successfully seek ways to increase a business’s profitability. For example, they look for examples financial waste, such as staffing redundancies and excess supply purchases. They also identify areas of potential growth, such as an uptick in a particular customer demographic. Their findings are compiled into reports that are presented to the executive management team. This information is used when making strategic business decisions.

Responsibilities of Internal Auditors

Internal auditors are employed by businesses to monitor internal accounting practices. They are charged with ensuring adherence with all financial procedures and best practices. The ultimate goal is minimizing risk of fraud, theft and other forms of monetary mismanagement. In addition to reviewing the financial records of various departments through the organization for accuracy, internal auditors liaise with the legal department to facilitate financial regulatory compliance.

Responsibilities of Government Accountants

Unlike other accounting professionals, government accountants are not employed in the private sector. These individuals work for the federal, state or local government. They audit the financial records of both government agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, as well as private organizations that are regulated by the government, such as private defense contractors. Like internal auditors, they examine for financial mismanagement and fraud. They also ensure that the organizations they audit operate in compliance with legal regulations.

About the Author

KJ Henderson has more than a decade of HR and talent acquisition experience. He has held roles at a Fortune 100 investment bank, a media conglomerate and at one of NYC's largest executive staffing firms. He currently heads recruitment sourcing at a major movie studio. He read literature at Oxford.

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