The entertainment industry in recent years has gotten a lot of mileage out of portraying accountants “off type.” That means that, because entertainers assume accountants, bookkeepers and the accounting profession itself are mundane, regimented and frankly a little boring, several recent motion pictures and streaming series have conversely depicted accountants as characters who were nothing short of action stars, virtual superheroes. This follows an old entertainment stereotype: there is a reticent, quiet character—like reporter Clark Kent or photographer Peter Parker—who secretly has superpowers—Superman or Spiderman. The most ironic thing about this new entertainment trend is that accountants really are heroes. If you are a business person or an entrepreneur of any stripe, you know beyond doubt that running a successful enterprise today requires the abilities of competent accountants. This means that locating the right person to fill the role of an accountant is tantamount to finding the hero your company needs.
Often, people outside the business world may wonder about the difference between the president of a company and the chief executive officer. What is a comptroller, they ask, and what is a vice-president of communication? There is one position, however, that everyone in or out of the business world recognizes: an accountant. This is not to say that the ordinary person—or even the chief executive officer—really understands what a company’s accountants do. Basically, an accountant takes care of a firm’s books. Most people recognize this means overseeing invoices and depositing receipts, paying bills, handling payroll, dealing with taxes, balancing all the books and making regular reports to executives, stockholders and regulatory agencies. Just this oversimplified version of a business accountant’s responsibilities expressed this way makes it clear the sort of a person it takes to be an accountant and to what degree accountants and bookkeepers are underestimated.
In actuality, a rudimentary explanation of what an account does is not an adequate description of what it takes to become an accountant in the first place. It requires a whole lot more than being intelligent and good with numbers:
The notion that the executives running a business do not fully understand the work of the bookkeepers and accountants who oversee the firm’s finances is not that far-fetched. A recent article in Forbes claims that often the top business execs who make the most important decisions dislike accounting—not because they hate numbers and bookkeeping, but because they do not understand them. This emphasizes the importance of the accountant, who has studied financial systems, tax law and balance sheets for years. Moreover, a dedicated, experienced accountant has the ability to examine the bookkeeping records of a company and rapidly make the observations and recommendations necessary to give the executive officers the correct information they need to make the most important decisions. This is critically important and helps identify why it is so key to find the right accountant.
As noted, accountants acquire a great body of shared skills along the way to achieving certification as registered or state-authorized professionals. While their preferences and proficiencies may vary, you may be sure as an entrepreneur or corporate executive that the right person is available for financial oversight of such duties as filing corporate taxes, reviewing and revising your business’s corporate ledgers, forensic accounting or auditing, managing the funds of your operation or sharing that most basic kind of information—financial advice. There are accounting specialists who are familiar with the ins and outs of international trade law, even to the point of knowing what national trade standards and prohibitions exist.
Perhaps the best news of all is that there are services available to help match up your business’s bookkeeping needs with just the right hero so that you find the right accountant to get your accounting job done.