You might think you know what an accountant is. They're an individual who goes through your records and tells you about your financial situation and where it's going, right?
In a broad sense, yes. But an accountant isn't solely one thing - there are many different types of accountants, all of whom fulfil distinct and equally important roles. Here are three common kinds and what defines them.
You've probably heard this term numerous times, perhaps in the context of corporate risk planning, but may have wondered what it actually refers to. Chartered accountants take on a variety of roles in the business and finance sector, from providing financial planning and business management services to carrying out audits. They are members of a professional accounting body - in our neck of the woods, that's the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand.
This role overlaps somewhat with that of the chartered accountant, who in addition to the above responsibilities also does some forensic accounting. They work in the context of imminent or ongoing litigation or disputes, using their skills to track down missing funds and other discrepancies. Like forensic experts on a crime show, they're investigators whose work has to be of a standard fit for a court of law, and they often deal with individuals or firms who have committed white collar crime, but can also be deployed in messy divorces.
This one is fairly self-explanatory. Tax accountants are experts in the Australian taxation system, and have a broad base of knowledge that extends from individuals to different businesses across a range of industries. With this expertise, they can advise you on what you can do to keep the amount of tax you pay to an absolute minimum, and assist with issues like mergers and acquisitions.