Mar 21 Finding The Right Accountant
Sometimes in life, it is difficult to anticipate the need for help. Too often, folks don’t understand that they need help until they’re well into a process or until the process is over. This is particularly true of the nature of accounting help. For example, it usually isn’t until an individual or business has a problem with their taxes or undergoes a particularly stressful tax season that they are motivated to look in the direction of a tax professional. Though it is a lesson that most have to learn the hard way, once individuals and businesses experience the benefits of working with financial professionals they often find it easier to do so in the future. Many area individuals and businesses, in fact, choose to consult with a Clinton NJ CPA on a regular basis.
Beyond just help with taxes, accounting professionals are often able to provide a range of financial services. For those interested in taking a proactive approach to their financial situation, instead of the all-too-common reactive approach described above, it can be helpful to first identify specific financial needs and goals. At that point, it is a matter of finding the right financial services firm or the right CPA to help meet those goals. While accountants can also assist in helping people identify their financial needs and goals, here is a broad look at different types of accountants that specialize in common financial situations.
Though most people associate auditors with helping people through situations in which their tax returns have been flagged for an audit, auditing actually refers to a broader range of services. In essence, an auditor is simply an accountant who performs an intensive study of some financial process in order to better assess and understand how it has functioned or how it is currently functioning. Accountants in the auditing field may perform audits or assist those being audited, and many times accountants have experience doing both. It should be acknowledged that while auditors can help in the case of an agency auditing a company or an individual—referred to as an external audit—they also may perform internal audits at the request of a company or individual to review their finances and records. Sometimes these internal audits are simply to help maintain internal financial accountability, but they are also often utilized to prepare for external audits.
Public accountants, including Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) who have passed an examination and have been awarded the credential, perhaps perform the widest range of accounting and financial services. Public accountants may work for an accounting firm or maintain a private practice. The average public accountant is often a jack-of-all-trades who performs auditing services, tax preparation services, financial planning services, business consulting services and more. While a public accountant may have a versatile skill-set, it can also be beneficial, especially for businesses, to locate a CPA with experience and results that are relevant to their situation.
Forensic accountants conduct accounting work that is utilized in courtroom legal matters. Forensic accountants may conduct financial analyses and otherwise produce work for either the judges and courts themselves, to help assess the nature of the proceedings, or for lawyers who use the information to help build their clients’ cases. Forensic accountants may also specialize in financial crimes such as fraud or embezzlement or major financial legal issues like bankruptcy.
While all accountants are able to provide a range of basic financial advice, there are an ever-increasing number of accounting specializations that focus on specific issues. Some focus on broad sub-topics in accounting like taxes and financial advisory. From there, the specializations only become more fine-tuned: a tax accountant may specialize in preparing the tax returns for government contractors, while a financial advisor may focus on retirement planning. No matter where an individual or business is located, there is bound to be an accountant nearby with the expertise necessary to improve their financial situation.