Business owners have a lot that they must handle on a day-to-day basis. Some of these things can be managed by the owner, management or other staff at the company. There are some positions, however, that are typically reserved for experts with the knowledge and experience to ensure critical aspects of your business are well-cared-for. Perhaps the biggest example of this is a company’s financial management team, which typically includes Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) who are knowledgeable in accounting. CPAs are a great asset to have in almost any business, so you may benefit from learning about what a CPA is and how your organization could benefit from CPA services.
What Does A CPA Do?
Certified Public Accountants (CPA) are professionals that handle financial tasks involved in running a business. This includes activities such as bookkeeping, preparing tax returns, profit-and-loss statements and financial planning.
While every CPA is an accountant, not all accountants are CPAs. The difference between an accountant and a CPA is that, in addition to being an accountant, a CPA has met experience and educational requirements in the state that they reside in and has passed the state’s Uniform CPA Exam.
Contrary to what some may believe, CPAs perform many functions outside simply filing tax returns. In fact, some of the services CPAs provide include, but are not limited to:
- Tax preparation and services. This is probably what CPAs are best known for and the most popular career path for aspiring accountants. CPAs can handle many aspects of tax preparation, including preparing various client tax forms such as property and income tax returns. If your business is audited by the IRS or other types of issues arise, a CPA can counsel you through it. They can also help you prevent these issues while minimizing your tax liability as much as possible.
- Auditing and review. Not to be confused with an IRS audit, this is when a CPA reviews a client’s financial statements and offers an unbiased, outside opinion. They may also offer assurance services, meaning that they meet with the key members of a company to ensure that they understand the financial statement so that they are better equipped to make business decisions based on it.
- Management Consulting Services. These services will vary, but they essentially help clients identify problems within their business and operate it more effectively. CPAs in this area may also assist with supervising or managing the day-to-day financial operations for the company. Potential services include budgeting, cash management, providing investment advice and assisting with estate planning.
- Forensic (investigative) Accounting. Also called fraud auditing, this involves CPA review of the business’s books to identify any discrepancies that would indicate improper financial management or criminal activity, such as embezzlement.
Why Should I Hire A CPA?
CPAs are experts in their field, and the financial management of your company is an integral aspect of its success. Here are a few more reasons you should hire a CPA to help your company:
- Tax law changes. Laws change frequently, and often without notice. It’s entirely possible you might miss an important change in tax laws that could affect your company. Part of a CPA’s job is to stay abreast of these changes to ensure your company not only remains in compliance with existing tax law, but can take advantage of any new tax benefits.
- Financial analysis. CPAs perform detailed financial analysis of companies’ financial reports and cash flow patterns. They can determine a business’s current financial situation and offer advice on strategies going forward.
- Before significant decisions — such as acquiring, merging, selling, or dissolving your company. In order to make the best decisions in these situations, you need to know how to best protect your business or yourself moving forward. These big decisions shouldn’t be conducted without the advice of a CPA. For example, if you’re selling your company, a CPA can provide you with an estimated fair market value of your business. They can also prepare your financial reports and statements.
- Before starting your business. Starting a business is an investment, and you want to make sure to do things the proper way. A CPA can help you with your organization’s financial operations and help you stay in compliance with evolving requirements while also taking advantage of changes. In addition, a CPA can help you involve costly issues stemming from improper financial management.
What Types Of CPAs Are There?
CPAs are skilled professionals, and they often specialize in certain business, trade and finance transactions. Here are just a few of the areas that CPAs may work in:
- Corporate finance
- Corporate governance
- Estate planning
- Financial accounting
- Financial analysis
- Financial accounting
- Financial planning
- Forensic accounting
- Regulatory compliance