Accountants and auditors help to ensure that firms are run efficiently, public records kept accurately, and taxes paid properly and on time. They analyze and communicate financial information for various entities such as companies, individual clients, and Federal, State, and local governments. Beyond carrying out the fundamental tasks of the occupation—providing information to clients by preparing, analyzing, and verifying financial documents—many accountants also offer budget analysis, financial and investment planning, information technology consulting, and limited legal services.
Specific job duties vary widely among the four major fields of accounting and auditing: public accounting, management accounting, government accounting, and internal auditing.
Financial Analyst Functions
Financial analysts guide businesses and individuals making investment decisions. Financial analysts assess the performance of stocks, bonds, commodities, and other types of investments. Also called securities analysts and investment analysts, they work for banks, insurance companies, mutual and pension funds, securities firms, the business media, and other businesses, making investment decisions or recommendations. Financial analysts study company financial statements and analyze commodity prices, sales, costs, expenses, and tax rates to determine a company’s value by projecting its future earnings. They often meet with company officials to gain a better insight into the firms’ prospects and management.
Financial analysts can be divided into two categories: buy-side analysts and sell-side analysts. Analysts on the buy side work for companies that have a great deal of money to invest. These companies, called institutional investors, include mutual funds, hedge funds, insurance companies, independent money managers, and nonprofit organizations with large endowments. Buy-side financial analysts devise investment strategies. Conversely, sell-side analysts help securities dealers, such as banks and other firms, sell stocks, bonds, and other investments. The business media hire financial advisors that are supposed to be impartial and occupy a role somewhere in the middle.