Private accountants perform many of the customary functions as any other type of accountant. However, their duties do differ somewhat from those of the other typical types of accounting: public and governmental accountants and internal auditors. Private accountants are also known as management or corporate accountants. They often achieve executive level positions within their companies.
Function of Private Accountants
Private accountants are concerned with the collection and analysis of financial data strictly within a particular company. The work of private accountants is provided to other managers and executives within the firm as tools to allow them to make business decisions based on sound financial data. Private accounts are also usually charged with performance evaluation, cost management, budgeting and asset management within the company. They are often also involved with strategic planning and developing new products.
Private vs. Public Accountants
While private accountants report the results of their work internally, public accountants collect and report a wide range of functions related to the external financial dealings of their clients, such as tax returns. Some public accountants, known as forensic accountants, even work in cooperation with law enforcement to investigate financially related white-collar crimes such as embezzlement and securities fraud. Public accountants may be employed by a particular company just as private accountants are, or they may be independent certified public accountants (CPAs).
Private vs. Government Accountants
Unlike private accountants who are employed by individual companies, government accountants are employed by state and local governments, as well as the federal government. Government accountants maintain the records of the government agencies for which they work. Government accountants employed by the federal government often work for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). One of the major duties of IRS accountants is to audit the records of private companies or individuals.
Private Accountants vs. Internal Auditors
Like private accountants, internal auditors are usually employed by a single company. However, unlike private accountants, internal auditors serve as checks and investigators to prevent mismanagement and fraud. They verify the accuracy of company records and the efficiency of company operations. They also evaluate the compliance of company procedures with corporate policies and government regulations. Internal auditors may also serve in specialty areas, such as information technology and compliance.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for accountants employed in the management of companies was $55,560. The overall employment picture for accountants in all specialties is positive, even in the face of the financial crisis which began in the late 2000s. Much of this growth is projected because of changes in tax law and legislation in other financial areas, which will require the services of accountants.