Accountancy is the practice of managing and maintaining business finances. Although accountancy practices are widely used for individual financial management, the strict definition of it refers to businesses and other organizations, such as governments and charities.
In its most simple sense, accountancy covers the various financial incomes and expenditure of a business, which will usually be sales, payroll, and any payments made to third parties for the supply of goods or services. Expanding on this, accountancy often refers to the total management of profit and loss within a business, although an accountant might not be involved with these areas, depending on the needs and size of a company or organization.
An accountant can be used to perform many roles for a business. Typically, accountants are mainly used for tasks such as calculating how much tax is to be paid or for completing payroll functions, although they may also be used for advice, as well as for preparing profit and loss accounts in full and even advising on specific areas of a business.
Accountants may work within a business, or simply with a business while being employed by an accountancy firm. Where a business has no requirement for full-time services, then they can easily find accountants when they need to complete tax returns or have a need for an ad hoc service.
Accounting practices can be traced back thousands of years, with evidence of simple counting and organization being found in Africa dating to almost 80,000 years ago. The industry as we know it today has its roots in the 15th century, with Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli generally regarded as accountancy’s founding father.