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What’s the difference between an accountant and a chartered accountant?



If your business needs an accountant, you may be deciding whether you need a chartered accountant or a regular accountant. Both can offer slightly different services and may be better suited to different situations. 

What’s a chartered accountant?

A chartered accountant is a type of accountant that has specific qualifications. They will have been trained to a high level and have years of experience working within the industry. A chartered accountant will belong to a professional body and will need to adhere to strict codes of conduct. They will also take part in ongoing training to ensure their knowledge and skills are up-to-date. 

What’s the difference between a chartered accountant and an accountant?

The term “accountant” can be broad. It’s not a protected title, which means there are no specific qualifications needed for an individual to be able to use the term. Typically, an accountant will have at least a foundation level qualification from the Association of Accounting Technicians, or they may have no formal qualification but instead have years of relevant work experience. All accountants will need to follow the Corporate Governance Code put forward by the Financial Reporting Council.

In contrast, chartered accountants will have specific qualifications to be able to use the title. For example, they will need to have passed high-level exams from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, or Chartered Accountants Ireland. 

Usually, a chartered accountant will have trained for at least five years, with three to five years professional experience working in a chartered accountancy firm. They will also belong to a professional accounting organisation, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales or the Association of Chartered Accountants. 

What does a chartered accountant do?

Chartered accountants will typically work at a higher level than accountants. Whilst they will be competent in the day-to-day accounting services that an accountant can offer, a chartered accountant will have specific knowledge and be able to deal with more complex matters. 

A chartered accountant would be more likely to provide services in a commercial capacity. This could include corporate finance, such as mergers and acquisitions, managing funds for a business, auditing, and forensic accounting to support litigation in commercial fraud cases. Chartered accountants would be able to advise on issues such as tax mitigation, expansion, remuneration, and could also assist with valuing a business and making it ready for sale. 

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Individual chartered accountants may have specific areas of expertise, such as corporate finance, or forensic accounting. Some chartered accountants may specialise in personal finances, especially for high-net-worth individuals. To find out more about accountants in Melbourne visit Liston Newton Advisory.

Do I need a chartered accountant?

A general accountant may be able to provide the services you need if you’re looking for general day-to-day finance services such as invoicing, payroll, and filing your annual tax returns. 

You may need a chartered accountant if you have a more complex matter. A chartered accountant will be able to provide more comprehensive, detailed services, which may be what you need in certain scenarios. 

A chartered accountant will also have professional indemnity insurance. They can be a better option if you want some level of protection for yourself and your business. A chartered accountant could be the right option if you want to guarantee a level of quality. As chartered accountants follow a code of conduct regarding ethics and professional practice, you’ll know you’ll be getting the very best service. 

How do I find good chartered accountants in my area?

It’s very simple to find chartered accountants near you. For example, if you live around Brighton, you would just need to search “chartered accountants Brighton” online to see the most popular firms in your area. 

You should then take the time to research each accountancy firm. You should check that they have the relevant qualifications and have the necessary work experience to be able to use the term “chartered accountant”. Read through their website to ensure they deliver the services you require. 

You should also check reviews using a third-party review site, such as TrustPilot or Google Reviews. You should expect a quality accountancy firm to have at least 4 out of 5 stars. You could read individual reviews from their customers and clients to ensure they fit your needs. 

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