Different types of accounting

Amanda White

Branches of accounting

Accounting is such a broad discipline and it covers many different aspects – these include

  • Financial accounting – preparing accounting information in accordance with regulated accounting standards
  • Management accounting – preparing information for internal decision making
  • Audit and assurance – providing a level of assurance over information presented by a third party using regulated auditing standards
  • Taxation – providing advice interpreting the tax regulations for businesses and individuals
  • Business advisory – providing advice to clients – individuals or businesses

Types of accounting firms

You may have already heard of some large accounting firms – within the business community they are nicknamed the “Big 4” – Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC. There are a range of second tier firms that have a national presence, and then firms that could be as small as just one person. These accounting firms are classified as “public” accounting firms because they provide accounting services to the public.

What are the different sorts of accountants?

When you ask someone about their job and they say “accountant” – what does that mean to you? Someone who prepares tax returns? Someone who helps a business manage their finances?

What most people don’t know is that there are many different types of accountants. Common types of accountants include

Type of accountant Description of their work
Financial accountants Prepare accounting information for presentation to external stakeholders including shareholders, regulators and the government.
Management accountants Prepare accounting information for presentation to internal stakeholders such as management for use in business decision making.
Auditors Independent accountants who audit the financial statements of (mostly) publicly listed companies to determine whether management are telling the truth in their numbers and disclosures.
Business advisors Prepare and use accounting information to provide advice to businesses. Sometimes smaller businesses will hire a business advisor on an as-needs basis rather than have a team of financial and management accountants in-house.
Tax accountants Prepare accounting information for tax related purposes. This may be for individual income tax, or corporate tax issues. Tax accountants may work in public accounting firms, or within one specific business.

Accountants work across all industries and sizes of businesses. Some work in public accounting practices with multiple clients, others work within organisations – from small businesses right through to multinational companies. Some work in corporate offices, others remotely. It may be a full-time job for some people, a part-time or freelance role for others.



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