Accountants are crucial members of any economy. From financial analysis to payroll, bookkeeping, and auditing, accountants are responsible for carrying out various financial activities.
Accountants ensure that business proceedings are fair and an efficient system exists for reporting and recording transactions.
The accounting field has undergone extensive changes in its structure and functions because of technological advances. As per the BLS, around 465,039 certified public accountants are currently employed in the United States.
In today’s world, accounting is a diversified field that encompasses not only the financial aspect of a company but also its growth prospects, expansion strategies, and whatnot.
Accountants today must keep up with new methods of conducting their work and dealing with all kinds of data. As the complexity of the business world has aggravated, accountants must be proficient in several areas to meet these demands.
Here are some of the dynamic responsibilities taken by accountants:
1. Examining Financial Documents
As an accountant, you must thoroughly examine the relevant information from all the financial documents before making any decision. You must ensure that financial documents are consistent with the company’s policies and procedures.
In addition to reviewing financial documents, you will be expected to examine them for accuracy and completeness.
Bank examiners (although not accountants) also benefit from this skill of critically examining and reviewing financial documents. A bank examiner works to ensure that financial institutions function in compliance with the industry and government and, therefore, requires a strong working knowledge of accountancy and associated laws.
BLS projects 21% job growth in the bank and financial examiners between 2021-2031.
2. Record Keeping
Record keeping is a critical function of accounting. It involves managing all books and records related to accounts receivable, accounts payable, and other transactions. You also need to maintain an accurate cash register or computerized accounting system that records all transactions. The role of record keeping can be split into two main types:
- Entry recording
This type is used to document cash transactions.
- Account posting
This type records all non-cash transactions.
The bookkeeping process helps in preparing financial statements, dealing with tax matters, and preparing audit reports.
3. Taxation Services
Taxation services are an important part of an accountant’s daily responsibilities. They help ensure that businesses pay their fair share to support programs like healthcare and education that benefit everyone in society.
So, as an accountant, you need to ensure these support programs stay funded.
Accountants also work on tax returns, which are documents that tell the government how much money a company has made and where it is spent.
Taxation services include assisting clients in filing returns or correcting errors on their tax returns provided by external bodies like IRS (Internal Revenue Service).
4. Preparing Audit Reports
Accountants play a significant role in auditing by preparing audit reports and providing an opinion on the financial statements. They are also called “audit findings” or “audit opinions.”
Audit reports require a detailed explanation for each item. In addition, they include explanations for significant changes from previous years’ results, including increases/decreases due to new accounting standards or changes in government regulations affecting those standards when applicable.
5. Managing and Publishing Financial Statements
Accountants manage balance sheets and profit and loss statements of businesses. These statements are used to make decisions about the future of a business.
- A balance sheet is a yearly financial statement that shows a business’s assets, liabilities, and equity.
- The profit and loss statement shows quarterly revenue and expenses for a given period.
Publishing financial statements is a key role of accountants as the financial sector is important to the global economy, and companies need to understand their financial position.
Diversified Roles of Accountants
The role of an accountant has evolved over the years. The significant changes have been due to technological advances and other developments in business practices.
1. Digital Technology Advancement
The role of accountants has changed drastically over time. Technology has transformed the world, penetrating every sector of our economy.
Digital and advanced technologies are becoming increasingly prevalent in the accounting industry. As an accountant, you will be expected to use the latest technology in your daily routine.
Some of these technologies include:
- Automation Software
Programs that enable you to input data and make changes automatically instead of having to do it manually.
- Data Entry Programs
Data entry and organization tools such as spreadsheets or databases help save time because they allow you to organize information quickly.
2. The Emergence of New Sectors
The role of accountants is evolving as the business environment changes within different sectors like banking, healthcare, education, and technology. They have been called upon to take on more responsibilities than ever before and, as a result, need to be knowledgeable in all areas that affect a company’s bottom line.
Accountants are no longer just number crunchers. Now, they engage in strategic planning, risk management, and business development. The new roles include:
- Business Consultancy
- Risk Management and Mitigation
- Business/Corporate Analysis
Accountants also play a critical role in developing new sectors by providing value-added services not offered by other entities.
3. Increased Global Competition
Accountants are the most important professionals in today’s economy. They provide essential services to businesses and governments, helping them make informed decisions about running their businesses or conducting government operations efficiently.
You are no longer just an accountant but a strategic advisor who can help clients navigate the complex world of business, technology, and competitive forces.
4. Need for Creativity and Innovation
Currently, business clients are more demanding than ever before. They want their accountants to be creative and innovative in their approach.
You should be able to manage pressure from clients who may demand changes at short notice. Accountants also have a key role as strategic advisors for their clients by advising how best to manage their finances or make investments.
You must also readily adapt to changes in the business environment, look at problems from different perspectives, think laterally, and work with other professionals.
The role of accountants is changing today with varying responsibilities. Accountants need to stay updated on modern technologies and trends to keep offering their clients high-quality services. They also need to learn new skills that can help them become accustomed to future jobs.
The evolving nature of the profession means that accountants must remain adaptable and flexible.