Professional accountants can save your business a massive amount of time and money — but what’s the difference between an accountant and a chartered accountant?
Engaging the services of a professional accountant can deliver a wide range of benefits for your business. Choosing the right accountant in Australia, however, can be confusing — especially when trying to understand the distinction between a “chartered accountant,” and an “accountant.”
If you’re considering engaging an accounting practice for your business, you’re likely to encounter firms that present themselves as chartered accountants. We help you make the distinction.
What is a Chartered Accountant?
A chartered accountant is an accountant that has completed a variety of additional qualifications and meets a variety of industry standards. In order to understand the key points of difference between the two types, it’s important to understand what it takes to become a chartered accountant.
A chartered accountant possesses a bachelor’s degree in accounting, as well as three years of verified work experience overseen by a fully qualified chartered accountant, who provides extensive mentorship. Also required is completion of the CA Program, a series of post-graduate courses on topics from taxation, management accounting, auditing, financial accounting and ethics. Once a person meets all these requirements, they are eligible to qualify as a chartered accountant.
Qualifying also means that practitioner will become a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand, or CAANZ.
What is Chartered Accountants Australian & New Zealand?
Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CA ANZ) functions as the professional body for practitioners in both Australia and New Zealand, as well as registered professionals from either country working abroad.
CA ANZ is responsible for setting and upholding the standards to which practitioners must adhere and enforces a code of ethics that all of its members — currently over 120,000 people — must follow.
In order to become a member of CA ANZ, practitioners must complete the Chartered Accountants Program, which includes a graduate diploma of accounting and the aforementioned three years of practical experience while mentored by a qualified member of CA ANZ.
What is the Difference Between an Accountant and a Chartered Accountant?
A chartered accountant is a professional accountant that has undergone rigorous testing and qualification processes in order to become a member of CA ANZ. A professional that does not possess these qualifications, on the other hand, is likely to possess a lower level of accounting & taxation expertise.
This doesn’t mean that a professional without these high level qualifications is unable to help you with your business accounting needs, however. A professional accountant typically specializes in a narrow field of business accounting, such as tax structuring, bookkeeping, or payroll.
A chartered accountant benefits from a deep understanding of a broad spectrum of accounting knowledge and is thus able to capture a deeper understanding of your business and provided targeted, actionable advice at greater resolution.
A professional accountant is suitable for the everyday accounting needs of a business — a chartered accountant delivers the most value when assisting businesses in navigating complex situations that require additional expertise.
What are the Benefits of Working with a Chartered Accountant?
Engaging the services of a dedicated chartered accountant provides your business with on-demand accounting and financial advice from an accounting professional recognized by CA ANZ. The long qualification process required to meet CA ANZ standards ensures that you will be able to access sound and accurate information that aligns with your business goals.
A major advantage provided by chartered accountants is oversight — these practitioners are regulated by a professional body that ensures they adhere to a stringent code of ethics and meet high standards of professionalism. Importantly, chartered accountants are required to take out professional indemnity insurance, as well as regularly undergo compliance auditing to certify that they remain up to standard.
The broad experience possessed by chartered accountants minimizes informational blind spots, delivering efficient and accurate guidance across a broad spectrum of business scenarios. The technical expertise that a professional gains through the CA ANZ qualification process arms them with the business acumen necessary to deal with complex accounting issues.
Depending on the financial needs of your business, it’s critical that you engage the services of an accountant that meets high professional standards. Chartered accountants operate in accordance with rigorous integrity standards, ensuring that all financial reporting and business practices they perform for your business are legally compliant and executed with the financial interests of your business as the highest priority.
How Can a Chartered Accountant Help Your Business Grow?
The advantages of such a professional aren’t limited to experience, however. Engaging the services of a chartered accountant can provide your business with a competitive edge during critical growth stages, assist in scaling and growth, launching new products, or entering new markets.
Chartered accountants specialize in minimizing risk but can assist businesses in critical growth stages by identifying opportunities such as the purchase of new assets, freeing up additional capital or pursuing finance in order to fund growth, or optimizing employment and payroll structures.
A chartered accountant also delivers impressive reductions in both costs and time. An experienced professional will help your business reduce tax liabilities while also minimizing the amount of time spent on reporting or secretarial obligations. By freeing up time and money, a chartered accountant allows you and your executive team to focus on the operation and growth of your business.
Structuring Your Business with a Chartered Accountant
If you’re in the process of launching a new business or a startup, a chartered accountant can help you navigate the complex process of business structuring. If you’re not sure whether your business should be structured as a proprietorship, a partnership, or incorporated, it’s best to engage the services of a highly experienced professional.
When structuring your business, it’s important to ensure that the structure you choose will scale alongside the growth of your business. Regardless of the structure you choose, questions regarding partnerships, share structures, tax efficiency, and multiple legal entities will arise. A chartered accountant is able to provide you with guidance on how best to structure your business in order to protect your equity from business risks, minimize taxes, and establish a scaling structure that facilitates long-term growth.
If your business does not currently employ a full-time in-house CFO or financial controller, it can be difficult to identify and engage the services of an accounting professional that meets your needs.
Outsourcing the accounting and advisory needs of your business to a chartered accountant can help you leverage the experience and knowledge of a regulated, seasoned accounting professional without the cost associated with full-time in-house staff.
Whether you’re launching a new business, aiming to establish a tax strategy, or want to ensure that your business is operating in the most efficient manner possible, a chartered accountant will provide you with the most accurate, actionable, and cost-effective guidance available.
If you’re currently considering engaging the services of an accounting professional or are interested in learning more about the advantages that a chartered accountant can deliver to your business, reach out to Fullstack for comprehensive guidance today.