Savvy Tips Guru

Public Accounting: What Their Roles & Responsibilities Are

what is public accounting

Public accounting involves the professional services provided by certified public accountants (CPAs) and accounting firms to clients outside of their organization. These firms, ranging from small practices to large multinational entities, provide various financial services. These services include auditing, tax preparation, economic consulting, and ensuring compliance with financial regulations like Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Duties and responsibilities of public accountants

Public accountants fulfill a wide array of responsibilities tailored to meet the specific needs of their clients and regulatory requirements. These duties are crucial in maintaining financial accuracy, compliance, and strategic guidance for businesses and individuals.

  1. Auditing: Public accountants are essential for auditing, and examining financial records to ensure accuracy and compliance with legal standards. They conduct both internal audits within companies and external audits for regulatory bodies or potential investors. These audits assure stakeholders that financial statements are accurate and free from significant errors.
  2. Tax Services: One of the core functions of public accountants is providing comprehensive tax services. This includes not only preparing tax returns but also advising clients on tax strategies to minimize liabilities while complying with ever-evolving tax laws and regulations. Public accountants stay abreast of changes in tax codes to effectively guide their clients through complex financial decisions.
  3. Consulting: Public accountants deliver essential consulting services in addition to auditing and tax preparation. They provide strategic advice on mergers and acquisitions, guiding clients through financial impacts and risks. Their financial planning services help businesses and individuals achieve long-term financial goals through wise investment and risk management strategies.
  4. Financial Reporting: Public accountants are responsible for compiling and preparing financial statements that adhere to GAAP. These guidelines guarantee uniformity and openness in financial disclosures across different sectors. Adhering to GAAP helps organizations present their financial health accurately to investors, regulators, and other stakeholders.

How does public accounting differ from private accounting?

Public accounting differs significantly from private accounting, primarily in scope and focus:

  • Client Base: Public accountants serve multiple clients across various industries, offering specialized services such as auditing, tax advisory, and consulting. In contrast, private accountants work exclusively within a single organization’s internal finance department, focusing solely on the financial health and operations of that specific entity.
  • Exposure and Expertise: Public accountants gain extensive exposure to diverse financial scenarios and regulatory environments due to their client-focused approach. They develop broad expertise in navigating complex financial challenges and regulatory compliance across different sectors. Private accountants, on the other hand, specialize in understanding and managing the financial intricacies of their employer, ensuring internal financial processes are efficient and compliant.
  • Skills Requirements: Public accounting requires robust analytical abilities, meticulous attention to detail, and proficient communication skills. Public accountants must interpret complex financial data, communicate findings clearly to clients, and provide actionable recommendations. They frequently engage with diverse stakeholders, such as executives, investors, and regulatory bodies. Private accountants focus on operational efficiency, budgeting, and internal controls within their organization, requiring strong organizational skills and a deep understanding of company-specific operations.

In essence, while private accounting emphasizes internal financial management within a single organization, public accounting extends its reach to provide essential financial services to a diverse clientele, ensuring financial integrity, compliance, and strategic guidance across industries and sectors.

Who needs public accounting services?

Public accounting services cater to a wide range of entities and individuals, each with specific financial needs and regulatory requirements:

  • Corporations: Corporations depend on public accountants for auditing to meet regulatory standards and uphold financial transparency. These audits, conducted by public accountants, enhance trust with investors, lenders, and stakeholders by validating financial statement accuracy.
  • Non-profit Organizations: Non-profit organizations rely on public accounting for audits that ensure transparency to donors and regulatory bodies. Public accountants ensure that non-profits adhere to financial reporting standards, reassuring donors about the responsible use of funds and compliance with legal requirements.
  • Government Entities: Government agencies require public accountants for auditing and financial consulting to manage public funds efficiently. Public accountants help governments maintain accountability by conducting audits that evaluate financial operations and ensure compliance with laws and regulations governing public finances.
  • Individuals: Individuals seek public accounting services primarily for tax preparation and financial planning. Public accountants help individuals navigate tax laws, maximize deductions, and plan for financial goals like retirement and education funding. They provide personalized financial advice to optimize financial outcomes for their clients.

Is public accounting a good career?

Public accounting offers a promising career path characterized by demand, competitive salaries, and opportunities for professional growth:

  • Demand Across Industries: Public accountants are in demand across various industries and sectors, ranging from corporate finance to non-profits and government agencies. The need for auditing, tax advisory, and consulting services ensures a steady demand for qualified public accountants.
  • Competitive Salaries: CPAs typically earn competitive salaries based on their skills and experience. As of 2020, the median annual wage for accountants and auditors was $73,560, varying by location, industry, and specialization in public accounting.
  • Career Advancement: Public accounting offers ample opportunities for career advancement. CPAs can progress from entry-level roles to managerial positions, such as audit managers, tax directors, or partners in accounting firms. Continuing education, professional certifications, and gaining specialized knowledge further enhance career prospects in public accounting.
  • Job Growth: The field of accounting, including public accounting, is expected to grow as organizations seek financial expertise to navigate complex regulatory environments and economic challenges. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7% growth in employment for accountants and auditors from 2020 to 2030, reflecting favorable job prospects for those entering the profession.

Public accounting presents a rewarding career choice for individuals interested in finance, accounting principles, and regulatory compliance. It offers stability, competitive salaries, and opportunities for professional advancement across diverse industries and sectors, making it an attractive option for aspiring accountants and seasoned professionals alike.

Public accounting is a good option

Public accounting is a dynamic profession that provides crucial financial services to both organizations and individuals. It includes roles like auditing, tax services, consulting, and financial reporting. This field offers stable career paths with good salaries and strong job opportunities. Public accountants are essential for maintaining financial integrity and ensuring compliance in today’s complex economy, whether they’re working with large corporations or individual clients.


  • RJ Sinclair

    RJ is our resident money guru, with a knack for keeping finances neat and organized. With previous experience as a budget manager in supply chain companies, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. Count on RJ as a trustworthy source for valuable money tips and advice to help you make the most of your financial journey.