Chartered Accountant (CA) Definition & Overview
Regardless of the type of business you have, a skilled accountant can help with several areas of your business. Qualified accountants organize all your financial information and ensure it’s done with accuracy.
The roles and responsibilities that an accountant takes on can be wide-ranging. They might focus solely on tax returns or lending agreements. Or they might oversee all of your financial statements. Your accountant might even take on all of these roles and more.
Some professional accountants specialize in different areas and have specific designations. One of those types is a chartered accountant. But what exactly is a chartered accountant and what do they do?
To help, we’ve put together a guide that covers what a chartered accountant is. We also highlighted some of their primary roles and responsibilities. Keep reading to find out everything that you need to know!
Table of Contents
- A chartered accountant is a specific type of accountancy designation. The designation is given by a professional body. A certified public accountant is the same as a chartered accountant in the United States.
- Chartered accountants typically focus on tax filing, financial accounting, auditing, and assurance.
- Chartered accountants should be equipped with certain knowledge. This might include things like an understanding of local and federal tax laws.
What is a Chartered Accountant (CA)?
A chartered accountant (CA) is a type of accounting designation that’s granted to accounting professionals. It’s a globally recognized designation in many countries except for the United States. In the US, a CA is equivalent to that of a certified public accountant (CPA).
When you receive the credentials to become a CA, it proves that you have the right qualifications to fulfill certain tasks. This can include filing a business’s tax returns, offering advisory services, or auditing financial statements. You could also offer a wide range of other services to clients, such as business advice about corporate finance or commercial fraud.
Depending on where you’re located, there can be different rules and regulations to follow to become a CA. For example, if you want to become a CA in New Zealand, you must first complete a recognized academic program. This could be something like a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree.
It’s mandatory that this education covers basic accounting topics and coursework in business. Once you complete the program and gain some practical experience, you can complete the requirements to become a CA.
In Canada, the accounting designation is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), regulated by CPA Canada and the corresponding provincial professional bodies. The process to earn a CPA designation is similar to New Zealand’s CA program. You would complete an undergraduate degree that focuses on specific business and accounting topics. Then, once you’re finished you would enroll in a professional education program to become a CPA.
Typically, a CA focuses on one of four primary accounting areas:
- Auditing and assurance
- Financial accounting and reporting
- Management accounting and applied finance
Many chartered accountants work as part of a business or corporation, whereas others operate their own accountancy firms or public practice. Their specific roles and responsibilities will vary depending on the company’s needs.
What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Chartered Accountant?
It was mentioned above, but their specific responsibilities can vary depending on their role. Some chartered accountants can have a narrow focus, while others might handle extensive accounting-related issues.
Here are some of the most common tasks a chartered accountant can take on:
- Preparing income tax returns
- Conducting tax oversight and tax planning
- Resolving tax-related issues
- Producing financial statements of a business
- Prepare budgets and forecasts
- Advise stakeholders on the performance of a business
- Maintaining professional relationships
- Conducting audits
There are several niche areas that a chartered accountant might take part in, as well. For example, they could specialize in environmental accounting, provide assurance services, or work as a forensic accountant.
What are the Educational Requirements to Become a Chartered Accountant?
It could depend on your specific location, but there are some common educational requirements to become a CA. You must first complete an undergraduate degree and gain some professional experience.
In order to be eligible for most CA exams, you’ll need to have between three and five years of experience with an employer that’s been approved by a governing body. When it comes to levels of testing to become a CA, there are typically three that you’re going to need to complete.
The first is the certificate level. This includes a variety of six tests that cover things like accounting, assurance, law, and principles of taxation.
The next is the professional stage. This includes the requirement of submitting six written papers that will go into depth about various accounting topics.
The final stage is the advanced stage. Here, you would need to submit two integral papers as well as a case study. The case study will provide valuable insights and information into the relevant work experience you’ve had in the industry.
Depending on the industry you work in, there might also be a requirement for continuing education. These allow you to stay up to date and informed with the latest practices. You would gain this additional knowledge through different continuing education courses.
What Skills Should a Chartered Accountant Have?
Every type of accounting will require special skills and experience, but chartered accountants might need to hold more unique skills for their role. These can include:
- Knowledge of local and federal tax laws and regulations
- Analytical thinking and problem-solving skills
- High attention to detail
- Mathematical and numeracy skills
- Relationship management skills
- Time management and communication skills
Being a chartered accountant is a type of designation that’s recognized around the world. That said, certified public accountants are equal to chartered accountants in the US.
Chartered accountants can focus on one distinct accounting area or specialize in several. For example, it could be forensic accounting, financial management, or tax filing for financial records.
They could also work in the private sector or public sector. But an accountancy professional often has a degree in accounting. This provides the proper job training for the professional services they offer.
An accountant of any designation will play a critical role in your business. They ensure that financial reporting and other obligations get done properly. Even the smallest of accounting errors can have large, unintended consequences.This is why hiring a chartered accountant with the right skills is important.
FAQs on Chartered Accountant (CA)
The salary of a chartered account will depend on a few different factors. These can include overall education, certifications, skills, and the number of years you have been a CA. That said, the average salary range for a CA is between $92,000 and $112,000 per year.
There isn’t a right or wrong answer for whether or not a CA is better than a CPA, and vice versa. Each designation offers similar education and skill development, but CA designation is recognized around the world, while a CPA designation is issued only in the United States and Canada.
To go from being an accountant to a chartered accountant, you will need to meet the entry requirements for the program in the country you apply. You must pass a series of accredited exams, which can include financial management, auditing, and taxation. As well, you must have between three to five years of experience in basic accounting services.
To get a chartered accountant designation, you must first obtain the right accounting education. From there, you must gain work experience approved by the institute of Chartered Accounts in your country and complete the required modules of the CA program. Once you have completed the required education and work experience the CA candidate must complete the program final exam.
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