What Do Accountants Really Do?

Calculators, tax forms, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. This is often what comes to mind when you picture what an accountant looks like in their element. Although we may not know what accountants do exactly, we know this career is highly reputable and prestigious. Understanding what accountants do on a day to day basis will reinforce why this career path is so highly valued.

  • Communicate With Clients: One of the most important jobs of an accountant is to build and retain a customer base. Customers can range from individuals to families to small or large business owners. All clients have a unique situation that have brought them to have professional financial help. Communicating with these clients in a reasonable timeframe and having availability to meet when needed is crucial to being successful and having happy clients.
    • Respond to Customer Inquiries: Throughout the day, accountants are corresponding with their clients via email, phone, and in-person meetings. Accounts deal with time sensitive and highly important financial data for clients which requires quick action. For example, if a client has their tax return being audited by the IRS, or if a client is looking for financial reports to determine if they can make a large purchase, then having a tentative accountant with a quick response time is imperative. 
    • Meet With New and Existing Clients: Often times, before selecting an accountant to work with, clients will want to setup a meeting to determine if it would be a good fit. When meeting with potential customers, accountants will be able to determine the best business solutions and services they can offer that will benefit the customer. Accountants also meet with existing customers during the tax season to prepare and file taxes, as well as throughout the year to go over reports, financials, and bookkeeping. 

  • Perform Tasks on Behalf of Clients: Accounting is defined as processing and analyzing financial reports, however there is so much more that goes behind an accountants job. Depending on the needs of the client will depend on the services rendered. Common daily accounting tasks include: 
    • Tax Assistance: Helping clients prepare and file tax returns accurately is probably what accountants are best known for. Knowing the tax laws and how to complete a return for rare or unusual circumstances is a huge reason to seek professional assistance. Another added bonus of using the help of an accountant to complete your taxes is that they can represent you to the IRS if you were to be audited. 
    • Bookkeeping Services: Many accounting services can also offer bookkeeping assistance. Bookkeeping services entails processing and analyzing a businesses financials. Logging all expenses and incomes provides forecasting and business management. In addition to running financial reports, accountants can use this data to provide business advice related to expansion, large purchases, and future development to the business. 
    • Small Business Start Up: Accountants can also assist clients who are starting a new business. Depending on the nature of the business, accountants can guide you on which type of entity to create, for example, an LLC, Sole Proprietorship, DBA, or Non-Profit. They can also assist in building and seeing through a business plan which will set the baseline for your goals and business growth. When starting a business, having an expense reporting system is crucial, accountants can show you a variety of different expense tracking options and advice. 
    • Financial Analysis and Reporting: As mentioned earlier, each client has a unique situation requiring financial assistance. However, no matter what the situation may be, a typical part of an accountants job is to offer financial analysis, reporting, auditing, and compliance regulation. 

  • Stay up to Date: In order to stay successful and relevant in an ever evolving industry, it is important for accountants to stay compliant as well as up to date on the latest trends. 
    • Continue Education: Certified Public Accountants are required by the board to continue their education (in addition to their initial degree) and complete a certain number of course hours annually. The required education hours vary by state, however 80 hours is average. 
    • Know the Laws and Regulations: Local and federal laws and regulations are constantly changing. Accountants have to stay up to date with these changes to ensure they are remaining compliant. In order to provide their clients with the best tax and financial advice, accountants must do their required research. 
    • Future Thinking: As the industry is evolving thanks to technology and artificial intelligence, accountants need to embrace the changes in order to offer the best possible services for their clients. Without utilizing these new technological advances, competing accounting firms will take over and dominate the field. 
      • Reading accounting blogs, articles, and attending seminars are all ways to stay up to date on the latest trends.

Odds are, our idea of what an accountants day looks like is probably much different from what actually happens. Although a majority of the job is probably what you’d imagine; processing, analyzing, and auditing, accountants also work directly with a large base of clients while staying current with their education and industry advancements. By offering their clients a variety of options to be financially stable and successful, its no wonder that the accounting profession is so well respected. 

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