You’ve no doubt heard the term bandied about over the years, but what exactly does a CPA do? To answer this and other related questions, we turned to Anna-Liisa Lampi, a Senior Manager at Barton Walter Krier. Lampi provides insight as we go beyond taxes and explore a day in the life of a CPA.
So, what does a Certified Public Accountant do? In a word, “Everything,” Lampi said.
She then went on to reveal that a CPA’s job involves a lot of problem solving and multitasking. “You’re working with various clients or on different jobs, checking where you are or where the staff is that’s working with you, and following up with clients or staff to keep things moving,” she explained.
In general, a CPA prepares and files a business’s taxes. But their work doesn’t stop there. CPAs also provide tax planning and advice, auditing services, financial management and consulting, and financial forensics.
And while each day may feel somewhat routine, a day in the life of a CPA is anything but typical. “There’s different information and sometimes you’re juggling a lot of different things,” Lampi said. “You’re just keeping them moving and trying to keep clients and staff happy.”
Is there a difference between an accountant and a CPA? Well, yes.
Essentially, an accountant keeps a business’s – or individual’s – financial accounts in check. A CPA can, having met certain licensing requirements, legally provide additional financial services.
And CPAs need to satisfy a certain number of continuing education hours each year. “Things are always changing, so there’s always something to keep up on and learn,” Lampi added.
There are also different roles or specialties within the CPA realm. Overall, CPAs are dependable business advisors but may also function as bookkeepers and payroll administrators, long-term financial planners, and tax preparers and filers.
“The bulk of us are generalists,” Lampi said of Barton Walter & Krier’s team of dedicated CPAs and tax professionals. “We try to take care of everything for the client.” Lampi explained that some of BWK’s CPAs work in the public sector and some work in industry, while others yet are more specialized on tax and quality control.
“And throughout the year,” she added, “we offer any consulting or assistance our clients need to help them out wherever necessary.”
Problem solving for clients is a major part of the job, and Lampi said she’s happy to do it. “It’s always tough to explain what I do, but it’s fun to problem solve and get clients what they need so they can reach their financial goals,” she explained.
And with most things, a day in the life of a CPA is constantly changing. While it may have its challenges, this career path is also stimulating and offers plenty of rewards. “You continually learn. You get to talk to different people, and a lot of my clients have become my friends,” Lampi said, while encouraging anyone with an interest to “go for it.”