Chartered Accountant Job Description
Chartered Accountants are financial professionals who completed a specific training program to obtain that distinction. While numerous countries offer such instruction, the United States does not. American students interested in that level of education work to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Reciprocity agreements allow Chartered Accountants who come to the U.S. to take a test that if passed lets their qualifications transfer so that they can work as CPAs.
Chartered Accountants typically work full-time in offices, with overtime hours common during tax season. They may have a single employer (such as being on staff at a large company), work for an accounting firm that handles multiple clients or perform services as an independent contractor.
Chartered Accountant Duties and Responsibilities
Chartered Accountants are both bookkeepers and advisors. To accomplish their goal of providing a clear picture of a client’s financial situation, they perform a variety of core duties, including the following:
A thorough record of money coming and going is essential. Chartered Accountants oversee the collection and maintenance of such data. If the company or client were audited, the IRS (or other governmental groups in the case of foreign countries) would need to see this information. Chartered Accountants also scrutinize the books regularly to spot patterns, ensure accuracy and look for areas where money might be saved by streamlining services or making budget cuts.
Chartered Accountants assume responsibility for filing and paying taxes for their employers. They fill out the proper paperwork, arrange for payment and stay on top of any changes that would affect what is due or owed. Because of their expertise, Chartered Accountants know about tax breaks, deductions and other ways their clients might be able to save money.
Lawyers, executives and other decision-makers at companies may call upon Chartered Accountants to offer opinions or present options when changes to operations are being considered. For instance, a Chartered Accountant might be able to discuss what tax breaks would be available if environmentally friendly upgrades were made to a facility.
Chartered Accountant Skills
Employers of Chartered Accountants demand confidentiality and accuracy. Thus, Chartered Accountants must be honest, detail-oriented professionals who thrive on working with numbers. Other pertinent skills for Chartered Accountants to possess include:
- Organizing meticulously to keep financial documents in order
- Problem-solving to determine where errors might be occurring or to suggest ideas that would benefit the client, such as ways to limit tax liability
- Communicating well with others both orally and in writing so that people understand their options and your findings
- Committing to life-long learning to keep up with governmental and economic changes
- Being aware of financial situations and regulations in other countries since the global economy is increasingly becoming a concern to all businesses
Chartered Accountant Tools of the trade
Being a Chartered Accountant involves familiarity with a variety of industry-specific items. Some of the most common are:
- Accounting books – Complete records of a client’s financial activity
- Tax returns – Paperwork that must be completed and filed with the government to determine tax liability and potential refunds
- Computers – For inputting and storing data, writing reports, analyzing markets and corresponding through email
Chartered Accountant Education and Training
Becoming a Chartered Accountant starts with getting an undergraduate degree in accounting, business or economics. Then, aspiring Chartered Accountants enroll in a training program to build competencies for the Chartered Accountant exam, a rigorous set of tests. Candidates also serve 2-3 years in a professional experience placement with an approved employer. At the end of that time, students submit a report on their accomplishments (sometimes called an Achievement Log or Record of CA Qualifying Experience). When a student receives a sufficient score on the qualifying exams (each country has its own standards) and has successfully completed the work component, he or she can become a member of the region’s professional organization for Chartered Accountants.
Chartered Accountant Resources
Becoming a Chartered Accountant requires a good deal of studying and commitment. These organizations and books provide further information:
Chartered Accountants Worldwide – Chartered Accountants play a vital role in the global economy, and this international group aims to promote and support their services. The group may be particularly useful to answer questions regarding employment in different parts of the world.
Chartered and Professional Accountants – This LinkedIn group with more than 32,000 members is “committed to maintaining high ethics, networking and actively advancing the global recognition of ‘Chartered Accountant’ designation and fostering professional interaction in this ‘New Age’ of converging accounting standards.”
Association of Chartered Accountants in the United States – While the Chartered Accountant distinction is well known in much of the world, people in the United States aren’t always familiar with it. Since 1980, this group has been raising awareness, helping Chartered Accountants from other countries find jobs and informing Americans interested in obtaining a CA how to go about doing so.
All You Need to Know about Accounting and Accountants: A Student’s Guide to Careers in Accounting by Robert Louis Grottke – Written especially for high school and college students, this book conveys in layman’s terms what accountants do, the skills needed in the profession and how career paths unfold.
You Can Be a Successful Chartered Accountant: No Matter How Many Attempts It Takes to Clear the Exams by Ajinkya Potdar – This book tackles common questions prospective Chartered Accountants may have about obtaining that distinction and working in the industry.
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