About Accountants

What is an Accountant?
A qualified accountant is generally a person who has qualified by examination, received training and is skilled in the practice of accounting.  Accountants work in either the public sector or the private accounting sector.  The accountant is generally responsible for advising on the financial aspects of the business, as well as reporting on its financial results and looking after compliance matters such as taxation, regulations and government legislation.

A non-qualified accountant is a person who is not formally qualified by examination, but generally has the experience, knowledge and the skills to perform many of the functions expected and provided by a qualified accountant.

Accountants Can Be An Asset
There will always be times during the operation of your venture that you will need professional assistance to help you with certain areas of your business.  Many larger businesses can afford to have their own in-house accountant.  However, most small and medium businesses either do not need a full time accountant or cannot afford to employ one as a member of the staff.  In these cases an outside professional accountant is consulted for advice.
Advice will be for financial matters, funding, accounting systems, business records and taxation, etc. Having a good accountant, as an independent advisor is a big asset to any business.

Who Can Be An Accountant?
Accounting firms come in a varied range of sizes and expertise.  Some specialise in complex business areas, while others are no more than highly paid bookkeepers looking after the simpler side of accounting, such as tax returns, bookkeeping records, etc.  You will have to find an accountant who can provide the type of service your business requires. 
Accountants usually charge on an hourly rate basis. This rate can vary from $50 an hour to $300 an hour, depending on the type of work done and the complexity of the assignment.
Anyone can practise as an accountant in the USA and hold themselves out as an accountant whether they are qualified or not or whether they belong to a professional association or not. Most accountancy firms belong to a professional association or Institute. As a member of the association or institute they are required to adhere to a code of ethics and keep up their skills through training and attendance of seminars, etc. 

Accountants and Today's Technology
The work that accountants do for their clients today has changed dramatically from that performed for clients 20 years ago. This can be attributed to the rapid growth of technology. With computers and the aid of specially developed software packages, accountants are able to complete work for their clients in less than half the time that they used to because their software has reduced the tedious manual work previously associated with recording transactions, managing data and keeping records.
Most accountants today are required to have basic computer skills and those who do not (or refuse to have anything to do with computers) find themselves left behind. Computers have enabled accountants to perform far more technical work than in the past so they can now easily put in systems and controls that enable useful information to be extracted as well as budget information to monitor how the client’s business is going.
There are hundreds of accounting packages on the market each catering to various size businesses. There is no doubt that software available will help you run your business much better, and assist your accountant to do his or her job quickly and efficiently from the records you are able to provide.
Accounting software will help to do some of the following things:
  • Record clients that owe you money and assist in the collection of that money
  • Manage cash and cash flow
  • Produce invoices
  • Manage debtors that owe you money
  • Record all financial transactions
  • Manage orders
  • Monitor and control stocks
  • Maintain good records
  • Record Sales Tax information
  • Record suppliers
  • Monitor creditors that you owe money to
  • Keep records of staff and wages
  • Handle all taxation requirements
  • Product budgets and comparison of actual results with budgeted