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What Do Certified Public Accountants Do?

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As a business owner, one of the most important professionals you need to succeed is a qualified and experienced certified public accountant (CPA). But why is it important to hire a CPA for a small business, and what do certified public accountants do?

What Is a CPA?

A certified public accountant is a highly trained accountant who has acquired enough experience in the field, passed the Uniform CPA Exam, and obtained a license from the relevant board. For an accountant to acquire the CPA title, they must:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in public accounting with a minimum of 150 credit hours
  • Have an experience of at least two years working as a public accountant
  • Sit and pass the four parts of the Uniform CPA Exam, which is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)–this exam is the same in all states and covers important subjects like auditing, financial accounting and reporting, business concepts, and regulation, among others
  • Meet special standards set by individual states, such as completing an ethics course

Although CPAs are often associated solely with filing taxes, they perform several other specialized tasks that are related to finance, including auditing and forensic work. Furthermore, CPAs can work in many industries, including private businesses, public institutions, government organizations, and non-profit organizations.

Your CPA will work closely with you and other members of your organization to determine the right strategies for managing your finances. This means that your CPAs will have full access to your financial records and other sensitive information like the personal details of your clients, vendors, and employees. So, make sure that the CPAs you hire are persons of integrity.

What Do CPAs Do?

As noted above, a CPA understands even the most complex aspects of accounting and the overall business language. So, they’ll help you to prepare and file your taxes, and at the same time serve as your trusted financial advisers. Their main objective is to assist you to achieve your business goals by providing you with financial insights that’ll help you to make prudent financial decisions.

Regardless of the size of your business, you need the services of a CPA. Running a business with the input of a skilled and experienced CPA puts you at risk of making costly mistakes and underutilizing the available business opportunities. Here are the main roles and responsibilities of a CPA:

  • Preparing and overseeing all financial records in your business
  • Preparing your financial statements
  • Creating, evaluating, and upholding your budgets
  • Checking your financial records for compliance with all local, state, and federal tax requirements
  • Cash management
  • Monitoring and enhancing your financial management systems
  • Strategic planning and consulting

In short, your CPA should be responsible for evaluating, understanding, organizing, and reporting your financial data to ensure accuracy and compliance with the existing business laws. 

Is there a difference between a public accountant and a certified public accountant? Yes–a CPA has a license from the accountant licensing boards, while a public accountant doesn’t necessarily have to be licensed. Therefore, a public accountant isn’t always a CPA, but a CPA is an accountant. A CPA has to meet all the licensing requirements outlined above to acquire the CPA tag.

The CPA designation serves as the mark of quality for public accountants because it takes a long time to acquire and involves a rigorous process that many people are unable to go through. So, the few that endure the process to the end enjoy numerous benefits, including more employment opportunities, greater financial rewards, and increased trust.

Because CPAs have direct access to the sensitive financial data of their clients, they’re expected to uphold the highest levels of integrity and adhere to the set codes of ethics. They should always act in the interest of the public by ensuring that businesses comply with tax law and desist from any form of financial fraud.

Speaking of financial fraud, your CPA should give you legal advice on the steps you need to take to avoid litigation in case of a scandal. They can also offer you consulting services, such as assisting you to identify and implement new financial systems and interpreting complex financial statements for you. Furthermore, your CPA will make recommendations about best practices in accounting. Many CPAs who offer consulting services specialize mainly in forensic accounting, litigation, and financial and estate planning services.

So, as you search for the available CPAs for hire, make sure they’re capable of performing these roles effectively. Fortunately, you can find hundreds of qualified CPAs on Guru–the most reliable hiring site that will make sure you find the perfect CPA to match your needs and budget!

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