Accountant Roles and Responsibilities: A Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 15 November 2022 | Published 26 June 2021

Updated 15 November 2022

Published 26 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Accountants are professionals who organise, inspect and maintain financial and tax documents. Different types of accounting jobs require different qualifications, skills and certifications. If you want to pursue this career, you should understand their roles and responsibilities in order to determine which accounting certification to complete. In this article, we will discover accountant roles and responsibilities, list the various types of accountants and explore the skills and qualifications you need to become one.

Accountant Roles And Responsibilities In A Workplace

In a workplace, the accountant roles and responsibilities depend upon the employer and the client's needs. Some of these are:

  • Documenting financial transactions

  • Monitoring the efficiency of existing accounting procedures and ensuring they comply with the government regulations

  • Reviewing financial documents to resolve any discrepancies and irregularities

  • Reconciling already documented reports, statements and various transactions

  • Creating, reviewing and presenting budgets

  • Recommending financial actions by analysing accounting options

  • Cooperating with auditors in preparing audit reports

  • Providing guidance on revenue enhancement, cost reduction and profit maximisation

  • Preparing and analysing financial statements like cash flow statement, balance sheet and profit and loss statement

  • Submitting annual tax returns

Related: Accounting Questions and Answers for an Interview

Types Of Accountants

The accounting field provides various career paths, allowing you to choose a path that suits your interest. Here are six types of accountants:

1. Cost and management accountant (CMA)

These professionals help prepare budgets and assess a company's total cost of providing a service or manufacturing a product to calculate the break-even point and profitability. Cost accountants help an organisation identify services, products, departments and even processes that are least profitable. Also, using their financial knowledge, they suggest changes to policies and procedures to increase the organisation's cash flow.

Qualifications

To become a cost and management accountant, you need to complete a three-level CMA course offered by the Institute of Cost Accountant of India (ICAI). The following are the three levels:

  • CMA Foundation: after completing your higher secondary, you are eligible for this level. If you have a graduate degree, you do not have to appear for the foundation exam.

  • CMA Intermediate: after passing the CMA Foundation exam, you can apply for the intermediate exam. Also, students with a graduation degree in any discipline other than fine arts are eligible to sit this exam. If you have cleared The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) Foundation or The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) Intermediate, you can apply for this level. However, before applying, you have to complete a three-day Communication and Soft Skill (CSS) training and 100 hours of computer training.

  • CMA Final: candidates who pass the CMA Intermediate level can apply for the final exam. During the final level, you have to complete a seven-day Industry Oriented Training Program (IOTP) and 15 months of practical training.

Skills

To become a successful CMA, you should have some experience working with cost-estimating software. You should also have strong accounting and mathematic skills, along with certain soft skills, such as research, problem-solving and analytical skills.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

2. Chartered accountant (CA)

Chartered accountants are responsible for managing the finances, helping with money management and providing financial advice. They also report on the financial performance of the company for making key business decisions.

Qualifications

You can become a CA after completing your higher secondary or after your graduation or post-graduation.

  • After higher secondary: you need to clear a list of exams like CA Foundation course, Integrated Course on Information Technology and Soft Skills (ICITSS), CA Intermediate, articleship (3-year training), Advanced Integrated Course on Information Technology and Soft Skills (AICITSS) and CA Final.

  • After graduation: you need to enrol in the CA Intermedia course, complete the ICITSS and 3-year articleship. After clearing the intermediate course, you can register for the CA Final course. You should then complete the AICITSS, clear the final examination and complete a three-year training.

In both the above scenarios, you should enrol yourself as a member of the ICAI to become a certified CA upon clearing the final examination.

Skills

CAs require certain soft skills like communication and self-motivation to excel at their job. Companies prefer hiring candidates who have strong commercial awareness, ethics, data analytics skills and experience with different accounting tools.

3. Forensic accountant

A forensic accountant is responsible for investigating financial discrepancies and frauds. They often review the company's financial records and make sure that their client's financial activities comply with government regulations. Using their financial expertise, these accountants may serve as a witness in litigation.

Qualification

To become a forensic accountant, you should first earn a bachelor's or master's degree (optional) in accounting, finance or any related field. After completing your degree, you need to enrol in a specialised forensic accounting course. The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI) offers a two-year post-graduate diploma in forensic accounting. The ICAI also offers a certificate course on forensic accounting and fraud detection. Candidates with a bachelor's degree and three years of experience are eligible to take this course.

Skills

Some soft skills of a forensic accountant include critical thinking, communication, attention to details, problem-solving and analytical skills.

4. Public accountant

Public accountants are responsible for performing taxes, audits, consultations and accounting services for public accounting firms and the government. They also maintain financial records and audit financial statements for the use of investors and banks. When they provide consultations, they primarily help in implementing accounting systems and employee compensation package.

Qualification

After completing the CA course conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), you can become a public accountant. Additionally, you can clear the US CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification exam, which is recognised internationally, but it is not mandatory for public accountants in India. Having the CPA designation will help you work for international companies that have branches in India.

Skills

Some skills of a CPA are presentation, analytical thinking, technical abilities, emotional intelligence, leadership and people skills.

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

5. Tax accountant

Tax accountants or tax consultants help companies and individuals to file their tax returns every financial year. This involves extracting information from their client's financial documents like investment statements, mortgages, employment and wages.

Qualification

Employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in taxation, accounting or a related field. After graduation, you may pursue a post-graduation in your respective field or pursue the CA course.

Skills

A tax accountant should have strong time management, mathematics, problem-solving, decision-making, social awareness and communication skills.

6. Auditor

An auditor ensures that companies have an accurate account of their financial information. They also review financial statements, accounting systems, fiscal records and ensure compliance with financial regulations. Using their financial skill set, they help companies resolve issues and ensure they do not recur in the future.

Qualification

To become an auditor, you require a bachelor's degree in accounting, but some companies prefer candidates with a relevant MBA or master's degree. After your post-graduation, consider completing certifications such as Company Secretary (CS) and the CA.

Skills

Some of the most desirable skills include analytical, organisation, communication, attention to detail and mathematics skills.

Example Job Profile Of An Accountant

Here is an example of an accountancy job profile:

Brand Capital is seeking a trustworthy and efficient cost accountant. Our ideal person is someone with a B.Com degree and CMA certification. They will be responsible for asset management, budgeting and cost management for our company. They will also be responsible for planning, analysing and collecting data to determine the cost of each activity like labour, inventory and purchase of raw materials. A cost accountant may also design and deliver cost presentations for internal and external use. They will work with senior management to implement and apply cost accounting policies and procedures.

We are an energetic company looking for professionals who can streamline our day-to-day financials and grow with our organisation.

What Is The Main Role Of An Accountant?

The main role of an accountant is to collect, analyse, record and report the financial data of a company or an individual. They ensure that a company complies with all the government rules and regulations. An accountant also helps analyse financial data to make data-driven business decisions.

What Are The Five Roles Of Accounting?

The five roles or functions of accounting include:

  • Account receivable: processing all the incoming payments (money in)

  • Account payable: making payments and keeping the bills paid (money out)

  • Payroll: ensuring all employees receive their salary timely

  • Financial reporting: preparing budgets and financial reports like P& L statements and balance sheets

  • Financial control: ensuring compliance with accounting principles and preventing thefts and frauds


Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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