The subjects that you study in all the three professional accounting courses (CA/CWA/CS) are the same to a considerable extent. But the area of specialisation would differ based on the profession in consideration. Therefore we notice that all the accounting professionals perform similar functions, except for the specialised areas that each professional deals with.
A CA specialises in accounting, taxation and auditing. A CWA/ICWA specialises in Costing and Management Accounting. A CS specialises in company law and related aspects.
The General Functions that are capable of being performed by all the professional accountants are:
Accounting [Book keeping]
Writing up of accounts and the preparation of financial statements ranging from simple Book keeping to making complex financial analysis.
Audit [review, check, inspection, examination, appraisal etc.]
Satisfying the users of financial statements that the statements which represent the accounts of organisations present a true and fair view of the state of affairs and are based on appropriate accounting principles.
Ascertaining the cost of production/processes at different levels of operations in the manufacture of a product or rendering a service. Providing costing information for the guidance of management, introducing cost control methods and assisting managements in establishing appropriate sale prices.
Since the tax laws are varied and complicated for a lay man to understand every one needs the services of a professional accountant for current and continuing tax information and getting general advice on taxes. Tax assessment is very closely linked with financial accounts. Therefore a professional accountant performs the functions of preparing returns for tax purposes, representing assessee's before Income-Tax authorities.
Special Company Work
Matters such as the formation of companies (registration work), designing the financial structure, liquidation etc the services of a professional accountant would be needed.
Shareholders representative - Company Directors
Working as a representative of the shareholders i.e. in the position of a director in the "Board of Directors" of the company. The professionals who hold senior positions in industry and commerce are best suited to this task. On account of their professional knowledge in one of the core functions i.e. accounting, they are capable of giving appropriate advices.
A secretary in addition to his regular secretarial work is an important link in the management chain. Small companies which may not need or are unable to afford the services of a full time secretary take the help of professional accountants for these. The growth of company as a form of business organisation creates a large scope in this area.
Almost every kind of organisation whose affairs are controlled by boards, councils and other corporate structures be it a co-operative , trust, society, association, federation, statutory authority, commission, board or the like finds it useful to utilize the services of the professional accountant for secretarial work.
Trustees - Executors
Professional accountants often are appointed as executors under a will or trust in order to carry on the administration of the estate or settlements. In such cases they work in tandem with legal practitioners. Solicitors or lawyers carrying out works of this kind usually take the help of professional accountants.
Management Accounting and consultancy
Professional accountants perform functions relating to management which have a direct accounting implication like formulation of policies, day to day control, performance evaluation, etc. They can assist business organisations in making the best use of the available resources in achieving their goals effectively.
Investigation - Share Valuation Work
Investigation is carried out to ascertain the financial position of business in connection with matters such as a new issue of share capital, the purchase or sale or financing of a business, reconstruction and amalgamations. Valuation of shares of public and private companies at the time of amalgamation or re-organisation and for the purpose of takeover bids and other acquisitions is being done by professional accountants.
The qualifications of the respective institutions are recognized at par with post graduate qualifications in commerce by many universities which enable them to take up a post as a lecturer in respective subjects where post graduation qualification is needed to be so appointed in the post.