Accounting Basics

Financial Accounting: A Comprehensive Overview

Financial Accounting

Financial accounting consists of all the official rules, principles, and regulations that accountants must follow while reporting. In this article, we summarized the key points everyone should know about the matter, including basic and more advanced information—read on to find out everything.

Financial Accounting: An Introduction

Financial accounting is the process of recording, collecting, and reporting the various transactions resulting from company activity throughout time.

These activities are summarized by financial statements, such as the income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet, which show the company's operating performance over, or at a certain time.

The public and commercial sectors both employ financial accountants. However, a general accountant's duties may differ from those of a financial accountant because the former is self-employed instead of working for a company or organization.

Main Takeaways

  • Financial accounting serves as the foundation for preserving financial records and details the protocols, standards, and benchmarks to be followed.
  • Small businesses, corporations, and nonprofits all need financial accountants to put together their books of accounts and create their financial reports.
  • Financial accounting makes use of financial statements, including the balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement, and statement of changes in shareholder ownership.
  • Financial accounting is more concerned with reporting to external audiences than management (or cost) accounting, which is utilized more for internal strategic planning.
  • The cash method of financial accounting and the accrual technique records expenditures for items that have not yet been paid for (only cash transactions are recorded).

Financial Accounting Simply Explained

Financial accounting makes use of a variety of recognized accounting principles. The accounting standards used during financial accounting are chosen based on the reporting and regulatory requirements the organization must fulfill.

For public companies in the United States, businesses must carry out financial accounting in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

Providing standard information to investors, creditors, regulators, and tax authorities is the goal of developing accounting standards.

The financial statements used in financial accounting include the five main types of financial data:

  • Revenues
  • Expenses
  • Assets
  • Liabilities
  • Equity

Revenues and expenses are noted and displayed on the income statement. They may take care of R&D and payroll, among other things.

The income statement's bottom line, or net income, is determined through financial accounting.

Accounting for assets, liabilities, and equity are all included in the balance sheet. In addition, the balance sheet's financial accounting is used to identify who owns the rights to the company's potential future financial gains.

There are two main methods of financial accounting, namely, the accrual and cash methods.

The accrual method of financial accounting is used to record transactions whenever a benefit is realized, or an obligation is assumed.

  • It is a more precise accounting method that frequently displays more genuine corporate operations
  • External reporting is necessary for larger, publicly listed businesses.

The cash method records transactions when cash is received or given.

  • It is an accounting method used largely by smaller, private enterprises with few or no reporting obligations that simplify things for businesses by focusing on what has already happened

Principles of Financial Accounting

Financial accounting generally is governed by five basic principles.

These guidelines govern how organizations should assemble their financial statements and are the basis for all technical assistance in financial accounting.

  • Revenue Recognition Principle: Cash must be declared as soon as it is earned. This principle establishes the amount of income that must be declared when it must be disclosed, and the circumstances in which it cannot be reported.
  • Cost Principle: This principle describes the method for regularly documenting expenses. It also describes how expenses should be recorded (i.e., at transaction cost) and how costs should be correctly recognized over time for suitable circumstances.
  • Matching Principle: This rule states that expenses and revenue must be recorded at the same time as they are incurred. It tries to stop companies from declaring income in one year while paying costs for that income in another year. This principle determines the order in which transactions are recorded.
  • Full Disclosure Principle: This rule states that financial statements need to be prepared in accordance with financial accounting standards that explicitly disclose a company's financial situation through footnotes, schedules, or comments. This principle determines how much information is included in financial statements.
  • Objectivity Principle: Even though financial accounting includes components of expert judgment and estimations, a set of financial statements should be compiled impartially and without consideration for any personal bias. This principle defines the situations in which objective analysis should be replaced by technical accounting.

Managerial Accounting vs. Financial Accounting

The primary contrast between financial and management accounting is that while financial accounting aims to offer information to those outside the organization, managerial accounting information is meant to aid managers within the company in decision-making.

Read more in detail about Differences Between Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting.

What Is An Example Of Financial Accounting?

A publicly listed company's income statement is an example of financial accounting. The company must follow specific guidelines about which transactions to record.

Regulatory bodies also specify the format of the report. The outcome is a financial report that details how much income was generated over a given period of time.

The Conclusion

Financial accounting establishes the rules for creating financial statements.

  • These regulations mandate that a company convert its operations into a set of widely recognized and standardized financial reports.
  • For organizations to be honest about their operations and held accountable for their success, the exact method of accounting for funds is crucial.

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