The Important Role of Accounting Professionals in Business
Accountants are often called “bean counters” or “number crunchers.” While it’s true that accountants do spend much of their time dealing with figures, their role can extend far beyond basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. In fact, the varied functions that many accountants perform are critical to the success of businesses.
Overview of Accountant Job Duties
Accountants can perform a wide range of duties. Their primary responsibility is to prepare, organize and maintain the many financial statements and records that are necessary in a business environment — from balance sheets and income statements to cash flow statements and statements of changes in equity.
Other typical accountant job duties can include computing taxes owed and preparing tax returns on behalf of the business. Accountants may also manage the company’s payroll operations to ensure employees are paid on time. Finally, many accountants perform an internal auditing function to ensure financial records are accurate and comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
Accountants Provide Valuable Financial Guidance to Management Personnel
It’s safe to say that no other members of an organization have a better understanding of the true financial picture than the accountants! Management personnel rely heavily on the advice and guidance that accountants provide when plotting strategy or making critical business decisions.
By offering a realistic view of the company’s financial situation, accountants can help business owners and managers avoid costly mistakes that could have disastrous consequences. Through careful analysis of the many financial records and statements at their disposal, accountants can also provide an accurate assessment of whether current business practices are resulting in a profitable operation while also making recommendations for improvements.
Ethics and Integrity Are Central to the Role of an Accountant’s Job Duties
The direct involvement of accountants with an organization’s finances means they must perform their duties with honesty and integrity. In effect, accountants must serve as the organizational “watchdog” to ensure the business’s operating practices do not step over the line. Accountants must also have the integrity to resist pressure from management to implement “creative” accounting procedures, such as those that ultimately led to the downfall of Enron in 2001.
Ensuring the Quality of Financial Reporting
In the wake of Enron and other corporate accounting scandals that followed, companies are now placed under heavier scrutiny in terms of financial reporting. In 2002, Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act — also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act or the Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act — which raised the bar regarding the accuracy of the financial information reported by companies and public accounting firms. As a result, accountants must play an even larger role in ensuring a business’s financial practices adhere to these high standards.
Accounting Offers a Variety of Career Paths
Many accountants choose to specialize in one particular area. For instance, if you become a management accountant, also known as a cost accountant, your primary role will be to record and analyze financial information and then present your findings to management. As a tax accountant, you may work for a public accounting firm to prepare tax returns for business clients. You can also pursue a career as an internal auditor in which you review a business’s management and accounting practices with the goal of eliminating waste and preventing fraud.
Get Started With the Right Training
To get started on a career in accounting and perform an accountant’s job duties with a high degree of accuracy and proficiency, you need the right training. The best degree you can acquire for this career is an Associate of Applied Science in Business Management – Accounting. This degree can be acquired in as little as 70 weeks.
Upon earning your degree, you will be fully prepared to execute the various accountant job duties required for entry-level positions, such as a billing clerk, accounts receivable clerk, bookkeeper and many others. You’ll also develop valuable skills in areas such as taxation, financial accounting and computerized accounting practices — skills coveted by hiring managers across a wide range of industries.
By obtaining the right education and receiving your degree, you’ll be ready to play the important role of an accountant, ensuring financial accuracy and success for your future employer.
Start Your New Career in Accounting Today
If you would like more information about launching a rewarding career as a business accountant, contact a friendly and knowledgeable Vista College Admissions Representative about our online Business Administration program.