Chartered accountant vs CPA

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Chartered accountant vs CPA
Partner & Head of Tax
December 6, 2018
minute read

Understand the difference and make the right choice for your business

While Chartered Accountants (CA) and Certified Practising Accountants (CPA) are both highly qualified professionals, there are some distinct differences between the two. Understanding the difference between a CPA and a CA will help you choose the right financial professional for your business.

Chartered Accountant vs CPA

Both types of accountants are highly qualified, but here are some differences in course content for each qualification.

  • The CA course has a strong focus on the technical aspects of accounting and complex tax matters.
  • The CPA course has a broader focus on accounting and business management.

A CPA will usually be better qualified to advise businesses on matters such as product costing, marketing, and business planning.

The right financial professional for you will depend on your business needs. Find out how we can help you grow your business.

Financial professionals explained

The kind of financial services you need will depend on the unique circumstances of your business. Our guide to different financial professionals will help you understand your options.

Certified Public Accountants

CPAs are accountants who have completed a specialised qualification and gained a strong understanding of a range of business management goals and outcomes. Along with regular accounting services, a CPA can help you with:

  • Marketing
  • Product costing
  • Business planning
  • Financial analysis and advice

Chartered Accountants

CAs focus their efforts on gaining a highly technical and in-depth understanding of accounting. CAs can help you with a range of accounting matters, including:

  • Complex tax matters
  • ASIC compliance
  • Financial analysis and advice

Tax accountants

When it comes to tax accountants vs CPAs, tax accountants can help you with a variety of standard accounting services rather than more complex business management matters. A tax accountant can help you with:

  • Tax returns
  • BAS returns
  • Financial statements


Bookkeepers provide an essential service for business owners who need more time to focus on higher value work, rather than handling their own books. Bookkeepers can help you with:

  • Creating and sending invoices
  • Bank Reconciliations
  • Payroll functions
  • Receipts and payments

Which financial services do you need?

Depending on the size and structure of your business, you will likely need one or more of the financial services described above.

In most cases, you will at least need a bookkeeper and tax accountant for your business. This will ensure your financial statements are compliant with the Australian Tax Office and, as a business owner, you should be spending your time on higher value work which will help to grow your business.

As your business grows, you will likely need expert financial and business advice from either a CA or CPA. For small and medium enterprise businesses, CPAs are likely to be more beneficial since they tend to have a broader knowledge of business matters. CPAs can help you with a wide variety of financial services, including structuring your personal wealth for growth.

What to look for in a CPA firm

If you are looking for a CPA firm for your business, you need to ensure that the advice and services they provide will fit the needs of your business.

Talk to your potential CPA firm about your business goals and how they can help you achieve them. They should be able to explain how their services and advice will help you grow your business and achieve your goals.

A CPA firm should also be able to be able to help you with a range of business advisory services and SMSF advice.

View all of our accountants and advisory services in Melbourne.

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