What Makes a CPA Company Successful
What is a CPA and What Do They Do?
A CPA, or certified public accountant, is an accounting professional who has passed the CPA exam. Additionally, they have met all of the state education and work experience requirements to become a licensed CPA. These standards are those set by the State Board of Accountancy in the state in which he or she is applied.
However, there is no national or universal CPA license. All 50 US states and five other licensing jurisdictions act independently of one another. In addition, all of these jurisdictions require different qualifications for admission. Essentially, each state board issues its own license based on the current rules and requirements in that state.
That way, a CPA license is much like an attorney’s license. Certified public accountants are typically only licensed in one state, but they can become licensed in additional states based on the reciprocity laws.
The CPA designation is the most sought after and used credential in the world of accounting and for good reason. This credential gives you the experience, expertise, knowledge, and opportunity to do many things in your career that a non-certified accountant wouldn’t be able to do.
Therefore, let's take a look at some CPA job descriptions and a list of what CPAs are capable of doing!
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What is a Certified Public Accountant and What Does a CPA Do?
Certified Public Accountants have many different career paths and options available to them. That's why this certificate is so popular. However, the main two career paths include public accounting and industry accounting.
Let's look at both:
What does a CPA do in an accounting firm?
There are a variety of different tasks that a CPA performs in the public accounting industry at an accounting firm. Here are a few.
Review and evaluation
One of the main duties an auditor performs in public accounting is auditing client completion and issuing an opinion on the statements. Basically, the auditor is recognized as an impartial third party who reviews and evaluates the financial statements drawn up by management. Based on the audit, the CPA will issue an opinion of the financial statements disclosing whether material false statements are found.
Ultimately, all public companies are required by the SEC to have an accounting firm audit their financial statements before they are issued to shareholders and the public.
Tax preparation and services
One of the most popular and well-known career paths for a CPA is in the tax preparation industry. This includes preparing all different types of client tax forms from property taxes to income taxes. This also includes advising clients on tactics and strategies on how to structure their affairs to minimize tax burdens.
CPAs are engaged in many different types of consulting services to help their clients identify business problems and carry out their operations more effectively. Some consultations include assessing internal controls and identifying possible operational improvements.
Forensic Accounting Services
Too often employees or owners embezzle company money. Most of the time embezzlement schemes aren’t caught until some time after the initial event. It could take months or even years to uncover a complicated embezzlement scheme.
CPAs are often hired to dig through financial records, identify if money was stolen, and report all fraudulent activities that were uncovered.
Financial Planning and Business Valuation
CPAs are often engaged to advise clients when the best time to sell a business is and how to transfer it to another person.
During the evaluation and planning, they also inform their clients about the tax implications of the sale or business transfer. This is common in inheritance and succession planning.
Although CPAs are not admitted to the bar, they are often used by attorneys to find evidence as appraisers in the courtroom and to prove. This is common in divorce proceedings, bankruptcies, and business mergers / acquisitions / splits.
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What Does a CPA Do in Industry Accounting?
There are several different jobs that CPAs perform outside of the scope of public accounting. Here are a few of them.
CPAs make great managers because they understand finance, operations, and how to improve profitability.
Along the same lines, CPAs make great CEOs, CFOs, and COOs because they understand the inner workings of a company. It's not uncommon for a company to hire a certified public accountant as the CFO or COO.
Just like for-profit companies, non-profit organizations need leadership and finance managers who can give advice and guide the organization on how to use their funds in the best way.
CPAs are often appointed to the board of directors of the non-profit and help manage the day-to-day.
The government employs CPAs for a variety of different jobs. the IRS, FBI, military, and Congress itself used CPAs in various capacities. There are a ton of different options for accountants at every level of government from local to federal.
Most accounting professors at major universities are certified. Although this isn’t a requirement, it is important seeing as they will be telling students to go become a CPA.
What Can a CPA Do that an Accountant Can’t Do?
There are a bunch of different things that CPAs are legally allowed to do that a non-certified accountant is unable to do. Here are a few examples.
Non-certified accountants are not allowed to audit public companies, issue audit reports or opinion letters, or review public company financial statements for the SEC. The SEC only allows a CPA firm to perform these services.
The IRS gives certified public accountants special privileges that non-certified accountants don’t get. A CPA is allowed to sign a clients’tax return as a paid preparer and represent the client in front of the IRS. These privileges are also awarded to enrolled agents and attorneys.
Will You Become a CPA?
There are so many career options and opportunities available for certified public accountants that it's crazy to not become one. If you are an accountant or are going into accounting, I would strongly recommend becoming certified. You won't regret it.
Kenneth W. Boyd is a former Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and the author of several of the popular "For Dummies" books published by John Wiley & Sons including 'CPA Exam for Dummies' and 'Cost Accounting for Dummies'.
Ken has gained a wealth of business experience through his previous employment as a CPA, Auditor, Tax Preparer, and College Professor. Today, Ken continues to use those finely tuned skills to educate students as a professional writer and teacher.
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