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What are the primary roles of an accountant?

primary roles of an accountant

Accountancy is the process of handling the income and expenses of an enterprise. The process comes with a variety of duties and responsibilities, all of which are handled by qualified and professional accountants.
While most accountants share essential characteristics like attention to detail, strong financial skills and a clear comprehension of business ethics, accountancy comprises numerous specialised areas. These specialised areas range from preparing the tax returns of a business, managing the payroll, helping businesses to grow, and performing independent audits.
Whatever area of expertise an accountant settles for, a healthy set of industry knowledge and qualifications are required. For instance, an accountant can strive to achieve an esteemed qualification like the ACA, ACCA or CIMA. These qualifications will require focus, time and dedication on the part of the aspiring accountant. Although this is just the beginning, achieving these qualifications can serve a stepping stone for accountants who wish to augment their knowledge, skills and attitude through continuing professional development.
If you are interested to know about the primary roles of an accountant and the different areas they can specialise in, stay with us for a few minutes and we will tell you what you need to know.
The changing nature of an accountant’s role depends on the specialised area to which they are qualified to carry out. The field of accounting involves several specialisations such as:

  • Management accounting. This involves the collection and interpretation of financial information to improve the overall financial performance of a business.
  • Financial accounting. This involves the storage, presentation and reporting of the financial activities of a business. This division in accounting can be divided into two: the preparation and submission of annual statutory accounts and bookkeeping.
  • Public accounting. This involves the provision of accounting products and services to other enterprises such as taxation, auditing and accounting.
  • Tax accounting. This involves the performance of accounting duties to fulfill tax rules and regulations.
  • Auditing. This involves the inspection of accounting books from a certain enterprise. The auditing process will be carried out by independent auditors using international auditing standards to provide a complete and thorough financial report to stakeholders. 
  • Internal auditing. This involves the objective evaluation of the internal processes of an enterprise to reduce the business compromise and set it within allowable limits.
  • Forensic auditing. This involves accounting, legal and investigatory techniques to expose financial breaches. 
  • VAT accounting. This involves the performance of accounting duties that involves value added tax.


It is the role of auditors to evaluate the business operations of their clients and examine their financial records and determine if their financial interests are represented correctly. Aside from that, auditors are also in charge of recognising and evaluating business risks and recommend the best solutions that will manage those contingencies. 

As a general role, accountants safeguards the financial efficiency of an enterprise. This role is made possible by doing several tasks such as keeping accurate financial records, preparing and presenting performance reports, adopting dynamic and profitable tax strategies and making sure that all regulatory tax and finance rules are complied by the enterprise.

Preparing accounts

An accountant uses a wide range of data to analyse and provide accurate accounting records of a business. These records detail the profit and loss of a company and, therefore, offer clues into its financial health. During the process of compiling financial data, the accountant will also look for any discrepancies or irregularities and correct these or investigate further.


Payroll needs to be completed in a timely and accurate manner, so many businesses leave this complex task in the expert hands of an accountant. As well as preparing, processing and managing payroll, an accountant may also make suggestions to improve processes and ensure payroll requirements are met.

Corporate finance 

Accountants under this specialised area help various enterprises when it comes to finding the best structure for financial backing. This means playing a vital role in establishing the finance of the business, and helping them navigate through the process of acquisitions and mergers, as well as offer timely and relevant advice on how to improve their business. 

Tax issues

Accountants assist companies of every size on the many complex issues relating to taxation. This could include providing advice on tax and tax planning, as well as completing tax returns accurately and ensuring they are filed before the deadline.


Businesses who need to supply VAT returns frequently call upon an accountant to complete this vital task for them. The accountant can also offer advice on all other aspects relating to VAT, such as registration and dealing with disputes.


Since an accountant has the expertise to scrutinise the finances of a company, he or she is in the best position to offer advice on how the business can make better financial decisions in the future. To assist with business growth, an accountant also carries out financial audits and risk assessments.

It is the role of a tax accountant to offer recommendations to businesses and individuals regarding their tax requirements, handling regular adjustments, and submitting tax returns on time. 

Forensic accounting

This role is intended to investigate various activities such as money laundering or fraud. Accountants with this role also offer assistance during any legal course of action. 

Insolvency specialists will also assist businesses who are undergoing financial troubles. This role will involve helping the business recover from such financial trouble and guiding them to undergo the insolvency process. 


While it might seem that an accountant’s role is fairly solitary, they do actually need to work with others and report their information to others on many occasions. This could include collaborating with internal and external auditors, other accountants as well as company shareholders.

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