What are all those letters after your name? And what do they mean?

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What are all those letters after your name? And what do they mean?

amy andersson ptcfo

One of my readers sent me an idea for a newsletter, so here it is! You’ve seen it, someone’s name followed by what looks like an entire alphabet of letters. For those of us in the world of finance and accounting, the letters are plentiful! Everyone knows that an attorney has Esq. after his or her name or a doctor has MD, but what does CPA or CGMA stand for? Hint, hint: it’s what comes after my name.

Let’s explore so you have a better understanding and you’ll have cool lingo to bring up at your next networking event.

CPA – Certified Public Accountant. A person who is a trusted financial adviser who has studied accounting at a university (150 hours – usually a master’s degree), passed the rigorous CPA Exam, met work experience requirements and takes continuing professional education courses to maintain the CPA certification.

These additional requirements for licensure ensure CPAs maintain the highest standard of knowledge and ethics when operating in financial positions. They act as:

  • Auditors of financial statements of public and private companies
  • Business advisers
  • Decision makers
  • Tax preparers and consultants
  • Accounting consultants
  • And much more to both individuals and businesses

CGMA – Chartered Global Management Accountant. The CGMA designation, sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), is the mark of distinction in the business accounting world. To earn the CGMA designation, a person has to master the technical finance and accounting skills, understand advanced business concepts and demonstrate strategic leadership abilities. 

Now on to some other financially related titles and when you might need to work with that person:

EA – Enrolled Agent. Licensed at the federal level by the IRS. An EA can prepare taxes for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, and any entities with tax-reporting requirements. They can also represent you if the IRS audits you.

CFP – Certified Financial Planner. Works with clients on financial plans, investments and insurance. This is someone you talk to when planning for retirement or saving for your children’s education, for example.

CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst. Works with large sums of money, in portfolio management, as financial analysts, stock brokers, investment bankers, etc.

CTP – Certified Treasury Professional. Experts in cash management, including the management of a company’s optimal cash positioning through forecasting and short-term investing and borrowing activities and maintaining corporate liquidity.

CMA – Certified Management Accountant. Works in corporate finance; analyzes data, creates business strategies for the future.

All of these certifications are distinct and they all help financial professionals with their credibility and levels of expertise. Many of these certifications lead to many different positions within a company or as a consultant. 

Now that you know what the certifications are, what are the job titles or positions in an accounting organization for a company? 

Bookkeeper – Records transactions of the business, makes sure financial records are accurate and up to date. This position may be sufficient for a small company with a relatively low number of transactions and low complexity. At a larger company, there may be one or more bookkeepers.

Staff accountant – Usually has a degree in accounting; can perform the bookkeeping function, including reconciliations, generate financial statements; journal entries; understands GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles); receivables and payables; payroll processing. This position is usually in a business with more transactions; regulatory and other more complex reporting requirements; measurement and analysis.

Controller – ensures the company assets are safeguarded; manages the accounting department; creates the company budget; performs account analysis; ensures sales tax compliance; measures Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s); reports on the financial results of the company; often prepares or coordinates the company tax returns; serves as audit and tax liaison; will often assume certain admin functions. This position primarily works with historical information.

CFO – Chief Financial Officer. This position is the senior executive responsible for managing the financial actions of a company. The CFO’s duties include tracking cash flow and financial planning, as well as analyzing the company’s financial strengths and weaknesses and proposing corrective actions. This position handles finance, banking, cash and risk management, forecasting and financial strategy. Mergers and acquisitions, maintaining debt covenants and maintaining professional relationships are often under the CFO umbrella. The CFO is often a CPA and uses the historical information as a tool in the role of a strategic partner.

For a few easy to remember rhymes:
A CPA works in the day-to-day
A CFO plans where the business will go
A CFP helps the parent or the retiree

The main takeaway of this article should be that there are experts in so many various forms and it’s important for you as an individual and a business owner to work with the right people and reach out for support when you aren’t sure whom you need. 

In this age of instant and immediate, this world of exciting tech and people working remotely, your company can continue to grow in ways you can’t even imagine with people you might never even meet in person. 

Systems and technology is a key to the above certifications and they also are the key to your company. If you need the positions above, or aren’t sure what you need, but need support in finding out, reach out. 

Price Turner CFOs can be YOUR virtual accounting department, including the bookkeeper, the staff accountant, the Controller and even the CFO!

Set up your Financial Health Review right here. 

Or, if you’d like to meet up as part of our PTCFOs breakfast series, check out the available dates for February, March and April right here and secure a seat!