Public Accounting, Corporate Accounting and Term Paper

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This role is in response to clients' demands for a single trustworthy individual or firm to meet all of their financial needs. However, accountants are restricted from providing these services to clients whose financial statements they also prepare." (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009)

1. Public Accounting

The work entitled: "The Reality of the CPA's Role" states that modern CPAs work "behind the scenes as trusted advisors in nearly all significant business decisions. Successful accountants display the ability to think strategically and creatively and to be problem solvers and business advisors." (Douglass, 2006) Douglass states that the views of the CPA are widely varied "...whether from the viewpoint of the investing public or from the perspective of the companies that engage CPAs to audit their financial statements or perform other functions. In fact, many people not involved in the business management or accounting profession may perceive CPAs as "book smart," reclusive number crunchers who sit quietly in a cubicle typing numbers into a ten-key adding machine. But decision makers in the corporate world know that successful CPAs are highly interactive, where most of their time is spent in face-to-face communications while performing complex tasks within the ever-changing boundaries of today's regulatory and legal landscape." (Douglass, 2006)

A. Audit Services

While the non-business community's respect may not appear to be as critical as that of the CPA's clients the reality is that the outcome of cases litigated in court are determined for the largest part by the perception of jurors of the accounting profession. Auditing is stated to be a process "where a reasonable level of assurance can be provided to third parties" in relation to claims made by a company. (Douglass, 2006) the primary function of auditing is to "...enhance the reliability of financial information. As a result, auditing also serves to facilitate the free flow of capital in a market system. This function is driven by the necessity for standardized, comparable financial information in a free market so that decision makers are better able to choose between alternatives." (Douglass, 2006)

When a separate, independent and competent third-party report is provided by a company on its financial statements Douglass states that "the comfort level of a potential investor or lender is enhanced, and that person is more likely to make the required funds available for the company's cash needs. Thus, even if the law did not require an audit, the free market system would tend to encourage (if not necessitate) one." (Douglass, 2006)

Douglass states that the accounting profession '...has encountered perhaps its greatest degree of change in recent years, most recently with the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which dramatically altered the landscape of modern public accounting. SOX requires that auditors now express an opinion on the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting of the companies being audited. It also reinforces the requirement for auditors to be independent of their audit clients and limits how much work the auditor can perform. It is necessary for the auditor to be independent and objective. Otherwise, if not, he or she may not be as willing to highlight and reject improper accounting treatments. It also leads to the appearance of unethical behavior. If CPA firms are not independent of their clients in both fact and appearance, they diminish their role of enhancing the reliability of financial information and inhibit the free flow of market capital." (Douglass, 2006)

It is reported that the Public Company accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a private sector, nonprofit corporation established by SOX to oversee auditors of public companies. The PCAOB bases its independence requirements on four basic principles:

(1) an auditor must not act as management or as an employee of the audit client;

(2) an auditor must not audit his or her own work;

(3) an auditor must not serve in a position of being an advocate for his or her client; and (4) an auditor must not have mutual or conflicting interests with his or her audit clients. (Douglass, 2006)

It is related that "If an auditor is to avoid auditing his or her own work, certain complex tasks that a company is not able to perform internally may have to be outsourced to a second CPA firm. For example, auditors cannot prepare the tax accrual for their clients because they would then be unable to independently audit the accrual.
Many larger firms take this a step further by taking advantage of separate audit and tax departments. Using the example of the tax accrual, the client would prepare the accrual, the auditor would audit it, and the firm's tax department would assess the reasonableness of the auditor's work." (Douglass, 2006)

These independence issues are stated to mean that auditors should not "...serve as business consultants to their audit clients, since the desire to retain the lucrative consulting engagements would compromise their audit independence. However, there are many other services CPAs can provide to non-audit clients. Many of these clients may still need to be educated on exactly what services a CPA firm can (and cannot) provide. For instance, an audit is just one form of assurance which can include many other services to improve the quality of information for decision makers. Such information can be financial or non-financial. Electronic commerce, elder care, comprehensive risk assessment, entity performance measurement and information systems quality assessment are just a few examples of assurance services areas." (Douglass, 2006)

B. Advisory Services

Additional services provided by CPAs include accounting, litigation support, management consulting, personal financial planning and tax advisory services. Within each of these services is a subset of endless possible specialties, such as environmental accounting, forensic accounting, information technology services and international accounting. In an internal business or industry setting, the CPA may provide financial management, financial reporting, internal auditing, management accounting, tax planning or any number of non-financial services." (Douglass, 2006) CPAs are stated to be business experts "...whose knowledge and skills are sought and valued by management in a variety of capacities. They can help businesses succeed in whatever complex circumstances they face, using their analytical skills and their ability to think creatively, strategically and solve intricate problems in a variety of situations. it's up to those of us in the profession to communicate these realities (while dispelling falsities) to further enhance the public's perception." (Douglass, 2006)

C. Taxation Services

The work of Erard (1992) entitled; "An Analysis of the Role of Tax Practitioners in Tax Compliance" states that tax practitioners "possess the means to exert an extraordinary influence on the tax compliance process. Their knowledge of tax rules and enforcement procedure far exceeds that of ordinary tax payers and they are directly responsible for preparing nearly one-half of all individual returns." (Erard, 1992) Tax practitioners are described as a "diverse group of individuals who provide a broad range of services for their clients." (Erard, 1992) the following table has been adapted from Erard's work. The table list the factors that influence the decision of individuals to use a tax practitioner.

Figure 1

Factors Influencing the Decision of Use a Tax Practitioner

Source: Erard (1992)

The following tables lists the factors influencing expenditures on tax practitioners

Figure 2

Factors Influencing Expenditures on Tax Practitioners

Source: Erard (1992)

2. Managerial/Corporate accounting

Managerial accounting is stated to be concerned with "providing information to managers -- that is, people inside an organization who direct and control its operation Managerial accounting provides the essential data with which the organizations are actually run." (Garrison and Noreen, 2009)

A. Cost accounting

Garrison and Noreen (2009) state that managerial accounting is also known as " accounting or cost accounting." Managerial accountants are responsible for the preparation of various reports. Garrison and Noreen state that some reports have as their focus " well managers or business units have performed-comparing actual results to plans and to benchmarks.

B. Controllership function

Garrison and Noreen states that some reports are of the nature that provide "...timely frequent key indicators such as orders received, order backlog, capacity utilization, and sales. Other analytical reports are prepared as needed to investigate specific problems such as a decline in the profitability of a product line. And yet other reports analyze a developing business situation or opportunity. In contrast, financial accounting is oriented toward producing a limited set of specific prescribed annual and quarterly financial statements in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)." (2009)

C. Internal auditing

Managerial Accounting is stated to:

(1) Reports to those inside the organization for planning, directing and motivating, controlling and performance evaluation;

(2) Emphasis is on decisions affecting the future;

(3) Relevance of items relating to decision making is emphasized;

(4) Timeliness of information.....

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