There are a different types of accountant, focusing on different areas of business and accountancy.
A chartered accountant is defined as a British accountant who is a member of a professional body that has a royal charter, e.g. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
A typical chartered accountant will work in many different environments and settings, with roles ranging from chief executive of a multinational company to being a sole practitioner.
In public practice firms, they provide a variety of professional services to a wide range of fee-paying clients, from large commercial and public sector organisations, including banks, to private individuals.
These services can include the following:
In the industry and the public sector, chartered accountants may work in areas such as: fund management, venture capital and equity analysis, as well as in financial management and reporting roles.
Management accountants apply the principles of accounting to provide organisations and businesses (in the public and private sectors) with the financial information necessary for financial protection. They establish and maintain financial policies and management information systems, as well as liase with management colleagues on all aspects of finance.
Chartered management accountants look to the future (rather than the past, as in auditing). They analyse the performance of a business and advise on how it can improve its value.
Management accountants may either be employed in a finance function or within specialist departments, providing financial advice and information to help support strategic business decision-making.
A Forensic Accountant can be defined as an accountant who performs an orderly analysis, inquiry, investigation, inspection or test, in an attempt to attain the truth, and develop an expert opinion in matters of disagreement.
In many ways a forensic accountant is similar to a three-layered wedding cake. It starts off with the largest, which is the bottom layer – a strong accounting background. The middle smaller layer consists of a need for thorough knowledge of auditing, internal controls, fraud detection, and risk assessment. The smallest, top layer is a basic understanding of the legal environment. To finish it off is the icing on the cake, which is a strong set of communication skills, both written and oral.
In general, a forensic accountant is engaged in a combination of fraud detection and litigation support.