A person whose profession is inspecting, auditing, or reporting the financial and tax information of a taxpayer or company. Accountants may create financial statements and conduct business valuations. The CPA designation is an indication of professionalism.
We rely upon CPAs, especially in regard to tax reporting. It is important for us to have access to accurate 1040 and W2 forms, business valuations, cost basis and depreciation schedules of businesses and real properties. We are careful to recommend those CPAs who have demonstrated a high degree of competence.
Note that an accountant is accustomed to working with actual numbers from the past and present, while a financial planner is working with abstract numbers and assumptions for the future. The accountant’s focus upon the present makes it likely that he or she will be unhappy if the current tax bill is not lowered to the maximum extent possible, whereas a financial advisor will be more interested in the cumulative tax liability which includes both the current and the likely future tax liability. Ideally, the wealth manager and CPA will work together for the client’s benefit.