13 answers

what are the biggest responsibilities of an accountant?

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Everything that has to do with economy and finances has always caught my attention. I have the basic knowledge about the career but wanted to know what is the main responsibility in the job of an accountant #college #accounting #business

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Lucas’s Answer

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Hello Lidibet, how are you?

A career as an accountant can take a few different forms, but overall accountants are responsible for providing relevant and trustful financial information to market participants, which could be leadership within your own company, investors, banks, etc. As your career progresses, your responsibilities will shift to more decision-making roles. As an accountant, you will be expected to analyze scenarios and apply the relevant accounting guidance to ensure that all of the impacts and financial transactions are properly reflected in the books. For example, with everything that is going on with COVID-19, many businesses will be impacted in many different ways. The accountants are the professionals that will drive the analysis of the impact to the business and help make the decisions on how to respond.

Hope I answered your question. If you have any other questions, please let me know and I will be glad to answer them.

Lucas
Hi Lucas ! Thank you for your answer it really helped me better understand the career and work of an accountant Lidibet G. Translate
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Cherrelle’s Answer

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Hi there,

I think the shortest answer is an accountant is engaged to review, prepare, or analyze financial records for a company or individual. The nature of the specific responsibilities could vary widely based on the type of records you are dealing with. In general, it is an accountant's responsibility to provide a factual and ethical analysis of those records. That said, the above responses are great, take a look at job postings of accounting firms to get a better idea of the very wide nature of the types of careers and responsibilities out there for accountants.
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Cody’s Answer

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The responsibility of an accountant lies within what kind of accountant you would like to be. You should be dependable to your peers, accountable (haha), skeptical, and detailed in your review. Another good quality would be able to keep yourself organized as you typically are juggling multiple tasks throughout your day.
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Katie’s Answer

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Hello. As many responses state, the role of an accountant can vary widely depending on the type of accounting that an employee performs. I have experience with public accounting (essentially auditing) for large public companies. Auditors do not make the financial decisions for a company. Instead, they audit the transactions/estimates/decisions that were made by employees of the Company. This requires good "people skills" in addition to a firm base of technical accounting and auditing knowledge. It is a great immersive experience that can allow you to see what it could be like to work for a Company (in a certain accounting group) while working for what is likely a partnership or LLC performing the audit. Many folks can be surprised to find out that being an accountant requires a broad skill set beyond an understanding of the technical rules of accounting. However, this skill set can certainly be developed over time. Accounting is a great stable career, in my opinion.
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Garrett’s Answer

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Hi, I hope you are doing well.

The job of an accountant can depend on what kind of accountant you are. Different types of accountants can include tax accountants, auditors, and internal accountants (just to name a few). In each of these groups there are specialties such as Tax Auditor, State And Local Tax accountant, etc.. A good thing about the accounting field is that there are many different paths you can take. With that being said, it can also be a tough decision to decide which one you want to take if you have never worked in any of them. My advice is to think about/research the different types I listed about (Tax accountants, Auditors, and Internal accountants) and think about which one you think you would enjoy. After you choose out of these three options, it will then be easier to pick a specialty once you have experience.
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Milagros’s Answer

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Great question Lidibet! The role of an accountant can vary depending on the type of accounting that an employee performs. I've been working in GAAP accounting for over 5 years and the main responsibilities include preparing month end closings, compiling and analyzing financial data, and giving recommendations to managers in order to improve processes. As of right now I work mostly in tax and GAAP and can say that the main responsibility is ensuring accuracy of reported information. My advice would be to never be afraid to ask questions; it is ok if you don't know the answer as long as you do the research and have the will to learn. Also, always keep current on the latest tax and GAAP guidance.
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Eric’s Answer

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It depends on what your actual job title is but one thing that holds pretty generally across the board is professional skepticism. You want to ask questions based on the numerical data. Monitoring the health of the business and being being a partner in strategic decisions is the ideal state. And remember that a full income statement is built based on journal entries and account reconciliations. It always helped me to keep in mind how what I did actually flowed through to the big picture.
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Christopher (Chris) J.’s Answer

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Lidibet,

All answers above are right on point.

The only thing I would add is more in regards to overall conduct. You asked what the main responsibility of an accountant is. No matter what discipline of accounting you enter into or what sector (private companies or public accounting firms) the main responsibility an accountant has and holds dear is professional integrity.

This is the practice of maintaining appropriate ethical behavior. It is the practice of showing strong adherence to moral and ethical principles and values such as honesty, honor, dependability and trustworthiness. The accounting profession, no matter what form it takes, is centered on these values. Without them our work is null and void to those who utilize our services.

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Rory’s Answer

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Hi Lidibet,

The previous answers are very good for the general responsibilities of being an accountant but I wanted to give some insight to the tools and skills that we utilize from day 1 that would be good for you to work on if this is your goal.

The most important skill for you to practice would be Excel skills. I use Excel basically all day, everyday at work. Becoming familiar with the shortcuts, formulas, and deeper intricacies of the software will give you a huge advantage on your competition. Fortunately, there are a lot of online resources on Youtube and other places that will give you top level Excel practice and tips for free. And if you are ever stuck or confused, just google how to do whatever you are trying to do in Excel and there will probably be an answer somewhere from someone who has been in your situation.

The next most important skill would be general understanding of business and financial information. Accounting touches on all parts of a business so anything you can do to increase your business IQ would be extremely helpful in your career as an accountant.
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Damir’s Answer

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Hey Lidibet,

That is a good question! The biggest responsibility of an accountant is a good set of knowledge and expertise. A great accountant's responsibility is to have skills, knowledge, insight, and expertise in the accounting area to properly record, adjust, and keep the books according to GAAP (Generally-Accepted-Accounting-Principles; rule-based) or IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards; principles-based).

Believe it or not, this may seem very simple, but it is the biggest responsibility.

The biggest responsibility of the auditors is knowing the GAAS (Generally Accepted Auditing Standards) which includes by default a perfect knowledge of GAAP. The auditors have a responsibility to the society to have a questioning mind in conducting audit of the business companies in order to give a REASONABLE assurance that the companies' financial statements are free of MATERIAL misstatements due to error or fraud, therefore the auditors have to master the accounting and auditing.

I hope that answers your question.
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Michael Ivelin’s Answer

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When you say the responsibilities of an accountant you need to consider the various fields of accounting there are. For example, if you are a certified public accountant (CPA), you can do things such as be an auditor or perform other assurance services; be a tax professional and work on tax consulting or compliance or even tax preparation services; you can be just a regular senior accountant and be responsible for journal entries and account reconciliations. The nature of the work requires a high level of ethics: current and potential shareholders, investors, lenders, regulatory agencies, and other users of an entity’s financial statements rely heavily on those financial statements in order to make informed decisions about the entity. The AICPA, state boards of accountancy, state societies of CPAs, state statutes, and other regulatory agencies set forth ethical rules and regulations for their members or for CPAs who practice before them. As a result, all CPAs (not just members of the AICPA) are subject to such ethical requirements. The AICPA Code of Professional Conduct establishes the fundamental principles of professional ethics.

Due to the important role accountants play in society, CPAs have a significant responsibility for the services they provide. This means working to cultivate the accounting profession, cooperating with peers in the industry, and maintaining public confidence in their ability to provide professional services.

Many times integrity is tested in the absence of clearly defined rules or expectations. The integrity of a CPA or any business person is measured by doing what is “right”: it requires a CPA to observe both the form and the spirit of technical and ethical standards.

Therefore, the stake is pretty high when it comes to public accounting.


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Jarenn’s Answer

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Hi Lidibet,

I would also recommend that you look at job postings for various companies for accounting roles as usually they will include the responsibilities for that role and why it is key to support the overall business. It also will list the skills, knowledge, and abilities required to successfully perform that job. You could look at firms such as EY, KPMG, and Deloitte for example.

Common responsibilities of an accountant at a company for example include:
•Liaise with business partners for all accounting inquiries including providing technical accounting guidance for new business initiatives
•Review and analyze financial statements for business units in order to ensure accuracy and completeness of the financial statements
•Prepare financial statements and variance analysis on a quarterly basis for balance sheet and income statement
•Prepare key quarterly and year-end financial reporting deliverables including margin analysis and footnote disclosures
•Prepare monthly spending packages for accuracy and provide explanations for any significant variances
•Record monthly distribution cash statements and prepare various quarterly accruals
•Manage various ad-hoc reporting and projects for Senior Management
•Prepare and submit requests related to SOX compliance, tax, and quarter/year-end financial audits
•Establish an environment of continuous improvement to identify, develop and implement process changes to increase accuracy of our financial records or forecast, and efficiency of our processes
•Effective communication skills (written & verbal)
•Excellent knowledge of accounting principles and internal controls
•Strong quantitative and analytical skills
•Ability to succeed in a team environment
•Customer-service oriented
•Strong problem solving skills
•Ability to adapt quickly and learn new tasks independently
•Excellent organization skills
•Ability to manage competing priorities
•Ability to analyze and resolve issues from multiple stakeholders

If you want to get specific, here is a job posting from EY:
Tax Accountant, International Tax Services, Tax, ITS Standard (Manager) (Multiple Positions), Ernst & Young U.S. LLP, Charlotte, NC.

Work on international tax engagements, applying knowledge of US and foreign tax policies to resolve specific multinational client issues. Contribute to client satisfaction by providing timely, integrated and knowledgeable global tax advice including international tax planning, consulting, and compliance. Advise U.S. and foreign multinational companies and private equity funds on the tax implications of international operations as well as coordinating U.S. tax laws with foreign tax laws to develop an optimal worldwide tax strategy. Conduct primary and secondary review of complicated or complex international tax returns. Research tax technical issues and write opinions and tax memos for clients on specific tax issues or tax planning strategies. Consult with clients on tax-efficient structuring of international transactions, effective use of tax treaties, planning related to offshore investments activities and repatriation programs to minimize US and foreign income taxes of our US based multinational clients, minimizing worldwide tax burdens on business transactions and operations, and making effective foreign investments. Required to obtain a CPA, JD or other alternate certifications based on approval from practice leadership within one year from hire date.

Manage and motivate teams with diverse skills and backgrounds. Consistently deliver quality client services by monitoring progress. Demonstrate in-depth technical capabilities and professional knowledge. Maintain long-term client relationships and networks. Cultivate business development opportunities.
Thank you for your help ! Lidibet G. Translate
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Archie’s Answer

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Hi Lidibet,

While I agree with several of the descriptions of "what is an Accountant" here. I am happy to share what I have done as an accountant - focusing in tax. I am a tax Deals (mergers and acquisitions) partner. I am an accountant, I have worked in preparing tax returns and tax provisions as part of financial statements. However, I have also been involved in consulting - from planning mergers, to integration of businesses, to spin offs, to dispositions. I have also been involved in state and local income tax planning and international planning. Beyond tax, I work hand in hand with accounting advisory folks that do everything from technical financial reporting / GAAP issues, human resources, Deals review, supply chain management, IPO planning, etc. The role of an accountant is very broad.

I hope that is helpful - happy to chat further.

Best,

Archie
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