Accounting Basics

Financial Accounting vs. Managerial Accounting: Differences

Last updated Friday, December 30, 2022

What could be the difference between accounting and accounting? Despite their seemingly similar nature, there are a lot of distinctions between these two practices; quite a few important ones, too. In this article, we’ll simply explain all of them—read on to find out everything about financial and managerial accounting.

Financial Accounting vs. Managerial Accounting: Overview

Both financial accounting and management accounting are considered to be two of the four most important subfields within the subject of accounting (e.g., tax accounting and auditing are others).

There are key distinctions between financial accounting and managerial accounting, despite the fact that both approaches and applications have many similarities. Compliance requirements, accounting standards, and the types of customers being targeted are among the primary differences

Main Takeaways

  • The technique of finding, measuring, evaluating, interpreting, and conveying financial information to managers for the purpose of pursuing an organization's goals is known as managerial accounting.
  • The process of documenting, summarizing, and reporting to the public or regulators the stream of transactions and economic activity that is the outcome of company activities carried out over a period of time is what is referred to as financial accounting.
  • Managerial accounting is distinct from financial accounting in that its primary objective is to provide those employed by the organization with the information they need to make well-informed choices regarding the company's operations.

The Primary Goals Of Managerial And Financial Accounting

Managerial Accounting Explained

Producing information that may be put to good use inside an organization is the primary goal of management accounting, which is a subset of accounting. Business managers are responsible for collecting data that enables them to engage in strategic planning, assists them in establishing attainable goals, and facilitates the effective direction of corporate resources.

Financial Accounting Explained

Financial accounting does have certain applications within an organization, but its primary goal is to provide information to others who are not affiliated with that organization. The final accounts or financial statements created via the process of financial accounting are intended to reflect the business performance of the company as well as its current and future financial health.

To sum it up, accounting for a company's management is known as managerial accounting, whereas accounting for a company's investors, creditors, and industry regulators are known as financial accounting.

Read more about The Most used accounting terms.

Applications From The Past And The Present

The information produced through financial accounting is completely historical; financial statements contain data for a certain time period.

Accounting for management, on the other hand, analyzes historical results and makes projections about the future of a company. This method of accounting ought to serve as a guide for business decisions.

When developing their projections, investors and creditors frequently consult financial statements as a resource. The practice of financial accounting is not retroactive due to this aspect. Despite this, it is forbidden to speculate on the future in the statements.

Accounting Regulation, Standardization

The legal standing of an organization is the factor that most starkly differentiates financial accounting from management accounting from a practical standpoint. The reports created by management accounting are exclusively distributed within an organization, while financial accounting can also be used externally.

Every business is allowed to devise its method and set of guidelines for preparing managerial reports. This indicates that there is no centralized system that regulates such reports.

On the other hand, the documents generated by financial accounting are subject to stringent regulations, particularly the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

Because this information is made available for viewing by the public and is eagerly awaited by investors, businesses have a duty to exercise extreme caution regarding the manner in which they perform calculations, how figures are reported, and the order in which those reports are constructed.

Investors and lenders are able to make direct comparisons across firms based on the basis of their financial statements because of this standardization. Additionally, financial statements are published according to a predetermined timetable, establishing uniformity in the flow of external information.

Financial vs. Managerial Accounting: Reporting Details

The information contained in financial accounting reports has a tendency to be compiled, condensed, and generalized for a number of reasons. At the same time, that information is becoming more open, and it is also becoming less revealing.

This is not typically the case in management accounting since there are many different reasons each organization should perform certain tasks in a particular manner. For instance, one could want to disclose smaller bonuses internally to avoid upsetting employees at the mid-to-lower level who would wish to read the report.

Reports generated by managerial accounting are extremely precise, technical, particular, and frequently experimental. Businesses are constantly seeking methods to gain a competitive edge, and one strategy they employ is to analyze a vast amount of data, much of which may appear arcane or complicated to externals.

The Conclusion

The users who are supposed to benefit from the information differentiate managerial accounting from financial accounting. The purpose of the information provided by managerial accounting is to assist managers inside an organization in making educated business choices, whereas the purpose of the information provided by financial accounting is to provide financial information to persons outside the company, such as investors.

Publicly traded companies are required to keep their financial accounting in conformity which is a prerequisite for keeping their listed status.

Because management accounting is not meant for use by third parties, it may be adapted to better serve the requirements of those who are supposed to be using it. This may vary significantly from company to company and even from department to department within the same organization.

Start for free

Use Wafeq to keep all your expenses and revenues on track, manage payroll and inventory, plus generate over 30 financial reports from one place.