The terms “CPA” and “accounting” are sometimes used interchangeably. However, this is often an unconscious misrepresentation. While it is true that all CPAs are accountants, not all accountants are CPAs.
So, what is a CPA? CPA is an acronym that stands for Certified Public Accountant. The keyword there is “certified.” Not only is there a minimum academic requirement to be a CPA, but there also is a code of ethics and a highly regarded four-part examination.
To this end, there is no greater or more versatile credential in the world of accounting than that of the CPA. As you can imagine, those who do reach this crowning achievement are much more highly regarded in the professional world.
- What Does an Accountant Do?
- What is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants?
- What Questions Should I Ask a Business Accountant?
- When to Hire a Forensic Accountant
What Do CPA Firms Do?
Now that you understand what that CPA is, what is a CPA firm? From an ownership standpoint, most states require at least a 51:49 ownership ratio percentage of CPA to non-CPA individuals. However, there are a few that stipulate a 100% CPA ownership requirement.
From a staffing standpoint, there must be at least a single CPA, while other staff members can be junior accountants and fill other required roles as necessary.
When you hire a CPA firm, you can receive various consulting and financial services. It’s unlikely that you are going to require the full suite, as clients often indicate the needs that are relevant to their businesses.
Auditing is among the most popular service that a CPA firm can provide. Forensic accounting and environmental accounting, business, and management consulting, financial planning, etc., are some of the other services that a business may be interested in.
The designated workflow may see a CPA firm using either on or off-site accountants to handle stipulated requirements. These may fall under daily needs, monthly report reviews, or even quarterly, semiannual, or annual tax form preparation.
The Difference Between CPA and Accounting Firms
The first major difference between a CPA and an accounting firm would lie in the ownership and staffing structure. The requirements highlighted above, while they apply to a CPA firm, do not apply to an accounting firm.
That’s because public accounting does not require a CPA certification. From a service standpoint, a CPA firm can technically do anything that an accounting firm can do. However, there are two major things that only a CPA license allows, which is where the most glaring difference lies.
First, the audited financial statements that public companies are required to file with the SEC can only be reviewed or audited by a licensed CPA. Second, only a CPA can represent clients in front of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Note, however, that a public accountant who is also an enrolled actuary, enrolled retirement plan agent, enrolled agent, or attorney can take on the client representation role to the IRS.
What Does a CPA Do When Working for an Accounting Firm?
You tend to find that CPAs in an accounting firm typically occupy one of three designated areas.
The first is management services. The idea here is to supervise and manage individual or organizational activities from a day-to-day and a long-term strategic standpoint. This may require financial planning, statement preparation, insurance coordination, risk management, and estate planning.
Tax services are also often provided which see the CPAs prepare local, state, and federal tax returns. They also work with clients throughout the year to help minimize tax obligations, providing representation where necessary should there be a need to address IRS concerns.
Finally, audit and assurance services are provided. Auditing evaluates economic and financial information to ensure correctness and compliance. Assurance aims to fine-tune the context and quality of non-financial and financial information, so it becomes more digestible to key decision-makers.
How to Find a CPA Firm
Finding a CPA firm in El Paso is the least of your worries, even considering the extent of the certification requirements. Look no further than Marcus, Fairall, Bristol + Co., PLLC for all your CPA needs. It is a full suite CPA firm found in El Paso, Texas.
All the services mentioned above are provided here by a team that boasts impressive credentials. The AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) has granted the CFF certification to the managing partner.
For reference, this is exclusively granted to people who have not only become CPAs but have also gone on to use their knowledge, skills, and experience to amass immense expertise in forensic accounting.
Feel free to reach out at (915) 775-1040, should you have any queries surrounding taxation, forensic accounting, or anything else small business-related. We offer our clients a variety of accounting services such as the following:
- Forensic Accounting
- Tax Problems and Resolution
- Tax Planning for Individuals
- Small Business Accounting
- Non-Profit Accounting
Marcus, Fairall, Bristol + Co., PLLC
230 Thunderbird Dr Ste G, El Paso, TX 79912
Phone: (915) 775-1040