A CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) is similar to an accountant in only a few ways. Mainly, there are significant differences between the two. A CPA, as its complete form suggests, is a designation that you can attain by fulfilling specific educational and vocational requirements. The details of which can be seen in the headings below.
Whereas if you want to become an accountant, you need to get a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and that’s all. The level of services you receive from an accountant and CPA also varies with professionalism and experience. Also, the authoritative matters are better dealt with by CPAs since they have the authority to perform certain duties that regular accountants don’t have.
What Services does a CPA offer?
From the basic bookkeeping to the most complex financial procedures, A CPA can handle it all. Here are some more services that CPAs offer to their clients or employers.
- Update or maintain the policies and procedures about a company’s accounting matters.
- Budget management
- Prepare reports for government audits.
- Prepare reports for tax purposes.
- Update the business policies and stay alert for any new government regulations.
And much more.
There are many more services that CPAs can offer. But it’s important to remember that a CPA you hire as a consultant cannot be the auditor for your business. This is a precaution and a safe practice to avoid conflict of interest and be fair.
Professional Growth as a CPA
As compared to an accountant, there are very high potentials of professional growth for CPAs. A Chartered Professional Accountant can dream about the topmost position in any organization with years of experience. A CPA can acquire many financial management skills and the soft skills required to be in a higher management position in an organization. An experienced CPA who has been working for an employer can be in the following positions later in their life.
Chief Finance Officer (CFO)
It is prevalent for Canadian CPAs to reach the position where they manage the entire financial matters of the company. Once a CPA acquires a CFO position, they can advise the board of directors and other executives for the company’s finances.
The second most common position that CPAs can easily reach with some years of experience is accounting manager. A CPA can also be responsible for treasury, audit management, budget directions, review of financial statements, etc.
CPA or Accountant?
If the question is “Who is better, a CPA or an accountant?” then a straightforward answer is CPA. That is because of the obvious reasons such as the difference in qualifications. A professional CPA is far more qualified, authoritative, and experienced as compared to a regular accountant. But the good thing is that as a consumer of tax services or bookkeeping services, you get to enjoy very cheap rates from the accountants. Regular accountants can also be very good at what they do because of their experience. Therefore, hiring a regular accountant is a preferred option by many start-ups and independent contractors in Canada.
There are many benefits of hiring a professional CPA which, of course, you cannot get from a regular accountant. In a few ways, both are similar, as they perform the financial duties for clients or employers. However, when it comes to the qualification and validity of the services, a CPA is recommended.
Sohail Afzal, CPA, CMA, MBA
Sohail Afzal, (CPA, CMA, MBA) is the founder & CEO of GTA Accounting Professional Corporation. He is a highly experienced Chartered Professional Accountant and businessman himself and understands the challenges that many businesses face when it comes to cash flow management. As an experienced business consultant & tax advisor, he is helping companies grow by providing the technical, financial, and contractual information necessary for strategic decision-making.