The Different Accountancy Roles
In contemplating an accounting career change, you should at least have an idea about the tasks and the roles played by the accountant in each aspect:
Accountants (General) – They oversee the entire accounting system and the work performed by the bookkeepers within a departmental set-up. Their main responsibility is to ensure the accuracy and reliability of all accounting data presented as financial statements or reports. They may be called financial accountants in some companies, as a distinction from the managerial accountants.
Managerial Accountants -- The financial accountant may also act as the managerial accountant, depending on the size, the type, and the industry of a company. These accountants provide the analyses of historical data and the projections that can be derived from them.
Auditors – In private firms, their roles are classified as internal or external auditors. Their distinctions lie in their individual objectives for conducting an audit examination. The former is to aid management in safeguarding the company’s assets. The latter, on the other hand, attests to the company’s claim of fair and accurate presentation, which is used as a basis by regulatory bodies in determining compliance and by public investors.
Government Examiners and Accountants -- They are two different roles similar to the accountants and auditors of the private sector, but their main concern is to ensure that public funds are properly managed and utilized.
Forensic Accountants – They have similar roles and objectives as the external auditor but their main difference is that the results of their investigations will be used as evidences in court. On the litigating side, they are tasked to determine the near-exact amount of the fraud or liability of the accused, while on the latter’s side the forensic accountant will be asked to present financial proof to negate any claims of liability.
Controllers or Comptrollers -- Today, these titles refer to the executive head of company’s accounting division. Their role is to oversee the entire accounting system, which may be divided into several departments or sections, e.g. accounting, budget, purchasing, credit, manufacturing, and collection.
Financial Analysts – These are the accountants who are hired mainly to make a study of a company and/or an investment instrument for their viability and potentials as lucrative ventures.
Cost Accountant – These accountants are found in manufacturing firms, and their main concerns are the cost aspects in all phases of production. The job likewise includes cost analysis, allocations, and projections.
Private Practitioners – These are the accountants who may render their accounting services in different capacities to different private firms or business organizations, i.e. as general accountants, as consultants, as external auditors, as forensic auditors, or as analysts. However, the Sarbanes Oxley law has prohibited private practitioners from rendering dual services as consultants and external auditors for a single firm.