Can Accountants Give Financial Advice?
There’s no question that the world of finances can be an overwhelming and intimidating one for many people. So, if you have some major financial decisions to make that will greatly shape your life for years to come, it is only natural that you may wish to first seek advice from a suitably qualified expert.
When most of us consider potential sources of financial advice, the word “accountant” is likely to be one of the first things to come to mind.
But can accountants really give financial advice? After all, many of us probably associate accountants with “number crunching” for businesses, rather than necessarily the service of providing financial advice, whether to a private individual, entrepreneur, or organisation.
The fact is, there isn’t necessarily a straightforward “yes” or “no” answer to this one. So, to help spell out the situation, below, we have explored the roles and responsibilities of accountants and financial advisors in greater detail, and what implications all of this has for who you seek financial advice from.
Ultimately, of course, when it comes to choosing the right person to provide you with financial advice, it won’t be the given individual’s job title that matters most – it will be what they can do to provide the right advice for your financial situation.
So, let’s delve into the subject.
Accountant Vs Financial Advisor
In order to understand whether an accountant can provide financial advice, it is important to understand the difference between an accountant and a financial advisor.
An accountant is a professional who specialises in providing services related to the analysis of financial records and information, and their role is primarily to record and analyse financial information – in other words, they actually carry out the financial actions.
Accounting professionals are generally responsible for preparing tax returns, auditing financial statements, and helping clients manage their finances, with strong knowledge in the areas of taxation, bookkeeping, auditing, and advising on business operations.
Accountants typically hold a degree or certification in accounting or finance, and some areas require them to be licensed or registered.
A financial advisor, on the other hand, is a professional who offers advice on investments, retirement planning, insurance policies, estate planning and other personal financial matters. Financial advisors are typically registered in the country in which they work, and will usually have to have some form of qualification or test to keep their skills and knowledge up.
Tasks that a financial advisor may carry out include:
- Develop Strategies for Investments
A financial advisor will typically work with clients to develop a strategy for their investments, taxes, and other financial matters, and this can cover both long and short-term plans.
This includes providing advice on investment products and services, estate planning, retirement planning, and insurance policies. This helps to ensure their clients have the information and insights they need to make smart, sound financial decisions and secure their financial future.
- Research And Analysis
A financial advisor is also responsible for researching and analysing data related to different areas of finance, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and other securities.
A person in this role must also be able to identify risks associated with certain investments and provide advice on how to mitigate or avoid them. It is their job to offer relevant, safe and accurate information to their clients. So, having a solid working knowledge of different investment types, and their current performance, will be crucial if a financial advisor is to do their job well.
- Help With Wealth Management
In many cases, financial advisors can also help with wealth management for very wealthy clients. This includes helping clients to set achievable goals, create an investment portfolio, and develop a strategy for managing their finances.
A financial advisor may also provide advice on taxes, estate planning, and other financial matters. This can be particularly useful for clients who have suddenly inherited money, and who are unsure about the best way to proceed and manage their new investment potential.
Do I Need an Accountant or A Financial Advisor?
When deciding whether to consult an accountant or a financial advisor, it is important to consider the scope of knowledge and expertise of each professional.
Generally speaking, accountants are well-versed in analysing financial information and preparing tax returns. They can provide advice on managing finances, but their primary focus is on recording and analysing data.
On the other hand, financial advisors concentrate on providing comprehensive financial advice that covers a wide range of topics. They are well suited to giving specific advice and guidance, rather than actually carrying out key financial tasks such as preparing tax returns.
Depending on the situation, it may be wise to consult both an accountant and a financial advisor in order to get the most comprehensive advice possible.
What Can an Accountant Do for Me?
As we mentioned, there is a wide range of tasks that can be carried out by an accountant, and these include:
- Filing Taxes
One key role of an accountant is filing taxes, and this is something which can be particularly helpful for businesses. Accountants are well-versed in the complexities of filing taxes, and they can help to ensure that all deadlines are met and any tax liabilities are minimised.
- Preparing Financial Statements
Accountants can also prepare financial statements setting out an overview of a business’s financial position. This can be useful for analysis, as these statements provide essential information about a business’s income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.
- Auditing Financial Statements
Your accountant can also provide auditing services, which will ensure that financial statements are accurate and comply with relevant regulations. This will be crucial if you are in a line of business that is subject to strict rules and guidelines.
Audits can help identify misstatements or inconsistencies in financial statements. This, in turn, allows businesses to make corrective actions in order to improve their financial position.
- Advising on Tax Strategies
While their work tends to focus on the practical, accountants can also provide advice on tax strategies which can help businesses reduce their tax liabilities. This could include suggesting ways to take advantage of deductions and credits, or providing guidance on the best way to structure investments for maximum tax efficiency.
Overall, it is clear to see that accountants can be very helpful in providing financial advice and assistance with accounting tasks. However, when it comes to more complex financial matters such as investments and estate planning, it may be wise to consult a financial advisor for suitably specialised advice.
How ST Accountancy Can Help
Here at ST Accountancy, we understand how complex the world of finances can be, and our team of qualified accountants is here to help. As a leading provider of accountancy in Suffolk, and bookkeeping in Ipswich we can assist with filing taxes, preparing financial statements, and auditing financial statements.
We also offer comprehensive advice on tax strategies and financial planning, allowing businesses to take control of their finances and make informed decisions about their future. Contact us today for further information.