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Home  > Article

Talk Like An Accountant

By Kamilia Kaczor

Do accountants speak in their own jargon? You bet they do!


Auditing is a formal review of a corporation's or individual's financial records. Expenses and income are tallied, providing a general picture of a financial situation. The IRS audits individuals and corporations on a random basis to check whether the information reported on tax returns matches records. Accountants carry out the same procedure, but do it more regularly and report their findings to the client so that and discrepancies can be taken care of before a corporation finds itself in hot water with the IRS.

Big Four

The four largest accounting firms in the United States -- the Big Four -- are Deliotte & Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Securing an internship or job at one of these highly competitive firms is worth the fight, because even a few years on the inside of them will make any resume shine. Each of the Big Four has annual revenues in the tens of billions as well as employees numbering in the tens of thousands. These firms are the most prestigious employers in the industry and develop impressive, transferable skills and use top technologies. They are the leaders in the accounting industry.

PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board)

This committee was created in 2002 along with new accounting legislation to monitor auditors of public companies and protect against fraud.


Revenue is the total income produced by a corporation or individual before expenses and taxes are subtracted. Once these deductions are made, the money left over is called profit.

Accounting System

An accounting system is the combination of manual and computerized tools and methods that allow accountants to model a client's finances. By creating a model of money flow, accountants are able to project how a client's financial situation would be affected if expenditures or income are altered.

Balance Sheet

A balance sheet is a snapshot of an individual's or corporation's financial condition at a given time. After tallying assets and liabilities, the difference between the two reveals the net worth at a given time.

CPA (Certified Public Accountant)

Certified Public Accountants are those who have passed the CPA exam and fulfilled further requirements that vary according to jurisdiction but usually include some formal education and real-world experience . Once certified, a public accountant can open his or her own firm and can sign off on his or her own work.

CIA (Certified Internal Auditor) and CMA (Certified Management Accountant)

A Certified Internal Auditor or Certified Management Accountant is an accountant who has received a bachelors degree in accounting or a related field, passed a four-part exam, and accumulated at least two years of work experience. General requirements for becoming a certified CPA, CIA or CMA are very similar.


Generally Accepted Accounting Principals are rules and regulations imposed on accountants to ensure a level of consistency in accounting practices. They are determined by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) and are learned from numerous text and reference books available on the market.

Fortune 500 company

Each year, Fortune magazine published a list of the 500 largest companies in the United States, ranked according to revenue. Revenue is calculated using public data, so all of the companies on the list are publicly owned.

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