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Comparing Chartered Accountants, Accountants and Bookkeepers

Understanding how the designations in an accounting company are contained may be a bit confusing for most people out there who do not have a financial background or awareness thereof. Not just any person can start working with other individuals finances or an entity's financials - some degree of higher education is required.

Although there are vast differences between a charted accountant, an accountant and a bookkeeper the process of creating financial statements and having them checked and verified usually involve all of the above as well as a company secretary if needed.

The task of a bookkeeper will involve running the daily financials of an entity. This includes creating trial balance sheets of the debtors and creditors, petty cash and so forth. The balance sheets are a representation of the day to day financials of an organisation.

An accountant whom is not a charted accountant can be a member of the South African Institute of Charted Accountants or SAICA, depending on their experience and qualifications. Accountants are required to check the financials created by the bookkeeper and convert the information on them into financial statements such as balance sheets and income statements. An accountant may be an internal accountant - being employed by the entity or they may be employed by an accounting firm to deliver a management accounting service.

In South Africa when one is known as a charted accountant you need to have successfully completed a degree at a higher institution before continuing on to do what is called your articles. Articles are done over a period of three years and there are also a number of exams and diplomas one also needs to complete. There are also board examinations created by the SAICA that must be passed before one can legally say that you are a charted accountant in South Africa or CA (SA).

Charted accountants that are registered as auditors are able to offer auditing services to entities. They will then scrutinise the financial statements created by the accountant of the entity and check that the systems in place for accurate and transparent finances are valid and apt. The charted accountant will then deliver an auditor's report on their findings.

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