In the field of accountancy, individuals bearing the certification and title of chartered accountant are among the highest class in terms of skill and qualifications, oftentimes acting in a far wider reaching and significant capacity than less prestigious levels of accounting certification.
This, in turn, has led to prospective future chartered accountants and business owners alike to ask the question of what exactly it is that chartered accountants do in the course of providing their services, and how these services can act in a beneficial manner to their clients.
The duties of a chartered accountant are considered to be quite wide-reaching ones, though all share the same focus on the general finances and related matters of the client, whether they be a single individual or a grand scale corporate entity with thousands of daily financial transactions.
What is a Chartered Accountant?
A chartered accountant, in the generally understood term, are accountants that have undergone sufficient qualifications and training in order to be legally recognized by an accountancy related regulatory body, allowing them to perform duties otherwise not possible for other non-certified accountancy related professionals.
Chartered accountants may work in a variety of capacities and with differing scopes of responsibilities, depending on their level of experience and the particular sub-field of accounting they have chosen to be employed in.
These differing scopes of responsibilities are usually pertaining to the financial complexities of their client, whether it be a single individual seeking advice on the filing of their taxes to large scale corporations searching for an internal management accountant.
In short, the primary function and duties of a chartered accountant are directly relating to the transcription, interpretation and control of money and assets with monetary value, all of which are utilized in nearly every fixture of modern society and the very economy itself.
This makes the presence of accountants in society a vitally important one, with very little in the way of financial movement or even the concept of government being possible without the function of accountancy in some shape or form.
How are Chartered Accountants Qualified?
The path to becoming a chartered accountant, unlike other professions, does not primarily require the attainment of a collegiate degree in a related field, with the primary requirements to becoming certified as a chartered accountant being somewhat less stringent but no less important.
Primarily, prospective future chartered accountants are required to possess between three to five years of relevant experience beneath an accountancy-related organization, usually recognized by the same regulatory body itself.
Apart from this relatively short experience requirement, prospective future chartered accountants may also need to possess some sort of undergraduate degree, though this will depend on the particular regulatory body the prospective chartered accountant is applying to.
Once the prospective future accountant has collected all sufficient experience and education, they must then pass several months of examinations in order to determine whether they possess the prerequisite skills and knowledge required during the course of a chartered accountant’s work.
If passed and then approved by the regulatory body, the individual will then possess the impressive title of chartered accountant, allowing them to function in a variety of capacities in nearly every industry or for any client.
How are Chartered Accountants Used?
Chartered accountants, when hired by financial entities or contracted by individuals, can act in an advisory capacity, a managerial capacity, in the interpretation of financial information, as facilitators in communication between two parties or even in the training of more junior colleagues.
Other ways chartered accountants may be of use to their clients is in the certification of documents and other disclosures related to a financial entity so as to confirm the legitimacy of the information contained therein, allowing it to be utilized for such purposes as tax filing, a court of law or for use in negotiations.
This wide-reaching spread of duties performed by chartered accountants oftentimes means that particularly large organizations will employ either more than one chartered accountant or dedicate entire departments to certain sections of accountancy, occasionally spearheaded by a sufficiently experienced chartered accountant.
Duties of a Chartered Accountant in Service to Financial Entities
Considering the fact that chartered accountants may be employed by a division of the government, sole individuals or financial organizations that require their services, it is important to separate the particular duties said accountant will be performing depending on their particular employer.
Most commonly, chartered accountants may be employed by corporate entities or similar structured organizations that compensate the accountant for a variety of duties that are required in order to retain the general function of the organization.
Highly specialized and delicate, risk analysis is a vitally important function performed by chartered accountants in order to ascertain whether a particular financial move performed by their client entity is a sound one.
The duty of risk analysis utilizes significant amounts of math so as to determine whether the relative risk involved in such actions like investments, acquisitions or contract formations are acceptable enough so as to not outweigh the benefits of said actions.
Risk analysis is most often seen in corporate entities choosing to divest large volumes of money in order to expand their reach or brand.
While corporations or other forms of financial entities oftentimes possess a department specifically meant for the purpose of communication, either between their own internal employees or the public, it is most often a chartered accountant or subordinate of a chartered accountant that performs direct technical liaising for the entity.
This is due to the fact that the sort of negotiations that take place at an accountancy related technical level oftentimes require some level of expertise in the field so as to ensure that no miscommunication or disadvantageous occurrence may come to pass during negotiations between the client and the other party.
The most common duty performed by chartered accountants, financial management is the act of handling a corporation or financial entity’s internal money and related assets so as to ensure its continued function and growth.
Financial management primarily involves the interpretation and planning of monetary positioning by the accountant, wherein they may act as a macro level manager as well as an advisor to higher ranking members of the financial entity.
Chartered accountants may also act in an active capacity wherein they will dictate the allocation of funds, manpower and utilization of employees so as to maximize financial efficiency within the entity.
Somewhat less common save in larger scale corporations or accounting firms wherein multiple accountants are hired at once, chartered accountants with enough experience to be considered seniors may act in an educational and training capacity so as to improve the professional portfolio of their immediate juniors.
This can be done through the conduction of training in-house, through the conduction of seminars, through direct mentoring or even through simple dictation and management of several junior employees as part of an accounting team or department.
Financial Interpretation and Disclosure
Another extremely common duty performed by chartered accountants, the compilation, interpretation and disclosure of financial information in the form of financial statements or similar documents is among one of the most basic functions of any accountant, regardless of whether they are a chartered accountant or not.
These financial documents are then provided to external parties such as investors and governing bodies or are otherwise kept internally for review by the chartered accountant, their colleagues, or presented to executives within the financial entity so as to keep them apprised of the entity’s financial function.
Invoice and Receipt Release
Though sometimes performed by non-chartered accountant professionals who work in similar fields, the releasing of receipts and invoices may be performed by chartered accountants, especially in instances where some level of legally binding certification is required as a form of information verification.
There is some distinction between these duties and that of the preparation of financial statements, as invoices and receipts are not meant to act as a financial disclosure in any way save for the exchange of monetary value, assets or services between the financial entity and external parties.
Alternatively, it is possible for chartered accountants to instead supervise a department dedicated to the compiling and releasing of invoices and receipts, freeing up the time and energy of the chartered accountant so they may instead perform more rigorous and intense duties.
The duty of financial auditing is not solely reserved for chartered accountants in the employ of a financial entity, as financial audits may be performed by governing bodies or prospective investing bodies wishing to verify the financial standing of an organization so as to decide their next move.
Within a financial entity or corporation, a chartered accountant acting as an internal auditor may investigate manners concerning the movement and dispensation of money and similar assets by constituent members of the entity, whether to verify the veracity of a transaction or to assess the general financial standing of the entity.
Duties of a Chartered Accountant in Service to Individuals
Apart from duties chartered accountants may provide in the service of a corporation or other financial organization, chartered accountants may also be hired and contracted by sole individuals for the purpose of acting in an advisory and executive capacity.
Individuals choosing to hire a chartered accountant may find that the accountant will request access to their private financial information as well as their general financial plans so as to properly assess the sort of actions they must take.
Tax Advising and Filing
Perhaps one of the most frequently seen duties performed by chartered accountants in the service of sole individuals, the filing of taxes to a governing body is highly dependent on the geographical location it is meant to be filed in, with laws in the United States differing from that of other countries.
As such, when contracting a chartered accountant for tax purposes, it is best to choose one based or educated in the same location as the taxes that are meant to be filed, as it is likely they are quite familiar with each individual law and caveat involved in the filing of said taxes.
General Financial and Budgetary Advice
Highly advisable, certain individuals may contract a chartered accountant in order to receive a professional’s opinion and advice on the general allocation of their monetary budget as well as their financial situation in its entirety.
This may be done for any sort of individual regardless of their financial standing, from unemployed members of society with significant levels of debt to the wealthy desiring to obtain insight into the ideal allocation of their investment portfolios.
Usually, a chartered accountant will act as a consult wherein they will assess the day to day finances of the individual and their family as well as discuss with them their long term goals and plans, allowing the chartered accountant to form a long term plan with hard numbers and specific information that allows the individual to reach their goal.
Debt and Credit Assessment
Tangentially related to general financial and budgetary advice, individuals may choose to contact a chartered accountant in order to have their debts and financial credit assessed, whether to verify its veracity or to form an action plan wherein the individual may improve their situation.
This has become less common in modern times as such things like credit scores and computerized interest calculators become more accessible to the average person, removing the necessity of consulting a financial professional in order to obtain the relevant information.
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