Niagara Licensed Public Accountants Provide Assurance Services

Niagara Licensed Public Accountant

If you’re seeking an accountant to help you with your small business or self-employed income, you may wonder about the difference between the designations given to accountants. Historically, there were several different types of accountants in Canada including:

  • The CA (Chartered Accountant). A Chartered Accountant designation required an undergraduate degree in accounting and three years of training in an approved accounting firm. CAs were also required to pass a challenging three-day exam.
  • The CGA (Certified General Accountant). This designation required an undergraduate degree in any subject area, at least two years of accounting courses, passing an entrance exam, and more than two years of business experience.
  • The CMA (Certified Management Accountant). An undergraduate degree in a related area, an entrance exam, and relevant work experience were the three criteria required to obtain a CMA certificate.

As you might expect, the existence of these designations caused unnecessary confusion with the public, so in 2012, organizations in Canada overseeing these three designations agreed to merge under a single designation, the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). These professionals work in a variety of different areas. A Licensed Public Accountant (LPA) is a CPA who has additional qualifications relating to providing assurance services.

Audits and Assurance

While larger businesses can afford to keep accountants on staff, smaller ones often partner with local accounting firms to contract occasional advice or help. While you may depend on your bookkeeper (or your own bookkeeping abilities) for much of the everyday financial work of your organization, you also need a CPA, whose job is to look at the big picture. Among the activities an accountant can help you with are business planning, taxation issues, and assurance.

A LPA is able to provide audit and assurance services to his or her clients, through activities such as internal control or comprehensive auditing. In Ontario, if you hire an accounting firm to provide public audit services, only the lead engagement person is responsible for signing a statement or report. This lead must be a LPA. (The other members of the audit or engagement team may also be LPAs, but they are not required to be.)

An audit will provide your organization with the highest level of assurance on your financial statements. You may require an audit to present to your stakeholders, to fulfill legal requirements, to use as an assessment tool before making changes to ownership of the business, or in order to receive funding. A review engagement is a less intensive process and provides a moderate level of assurance at a lower price. A review engagement is often necessary for stakeholders or used as a tool to make business decisions.

Choosing a Licensed Public Accountant

If you’re looking for a LPA to do an audit or review engagement for your business, partner with a local firm. Because these types of operations often recur on an annual or semi-annual basis, and may involve visits from the assurance team, you’ll want to look for a LPA from your local St. Catharines or Niagara Region. Look for a firm with skilled and experienced professionals and that prioritizes communication with clients.

Talk to a Licensed Public Accountant from the Niagara Region today and learn more about what they can offer your business.