Financial accounting is the method of recording, categorizing, summarising, analyzing, and reporting business transactions in a structured way. The primary goal is to disclose a business’s profits and losses. Financial Accounting is a way to evaluate a business fairly and honestly. So it protects the interests of all stakeholders.

It is the process of keeping track of financial transactions like buying, selling, getting paid, and owing money. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) tell accountants how to make income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, and statements of shareholder’s equity.

Key Takeaways

  • Bookkeeping, classification, and interpretation of business transactions comprise financial accounting. The profitability and financial standing of a company are determined.
  • It shows each company’s income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and equity in the income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet.
  • This information is used to make many important decisions. Managers, shareholders, creditors, lenders, and investors use the data correctly.
  • In the US, the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) set the rules for financial accounting.

Overview of Financial Accounting

It is merely the recording and analysis of transactions. It is conducted to evaluate the performance and profitability of a company.

The regulatory bodies have articulated several fundamental principles to standardize the procedure. In the United States, companies adhere to GAAP guidelines. All financial transactions revolve around the following five essential elements: Assets, Liabilities, Income, Expenses, and Equity. Moreover, each financial transaction has two equal components. Under the double-entry system, these two aspects are debit and credit. Debit is the increase in either assets and expenses or liabilities and income. Credit is the increase in liabilities and income or the reduction in costs and investments.

Financial Accounting Principles

Since the sole purpose of financial accounting is to facilitate the dissemination of financial information, the statements and reports generated by the business must be reliable and accurate. Companies adhere to the “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles,” abbreviated as GAAP, which outlines specific accounting rules.

GAAP encompasses fundamental accounting principles, such as the going concern principle, complete disclosure concept, accrual concept, matching, cost, consistency, economic entity, materiality, period, revenue recognition, and monetary unit. GAAP ensures reliable and accurate reporting. However, GAAP is not always consistent. Instead, it is continually revised to reflect the complexities that arise in accounting.

Categories of Financial Accounting 

There are two ways for a business to record its transactions.


Cash Accounting: The GAAP recommends the use of cash accounting. This type of accounting carries cash transactions. Consequently, each transaction has both a debit and a credit entry.

Accrual Accounting: Most businesses prefer accrual accounting to record cash and noncash business transactions. This method emphasizes the documentation of trades as they occur, regardless of currency exchange.

How Financial Accounting Works

It is based on a set of well-known accounting rules. In financial accounting, the selection of accounting principles depends on the regulatory and reporting requirements of the business.

Generally accepted accounting principles inform businesses how to do financial accounting for U.S. public companies (GAAP).

Setting up these accounting principles ensures that investors, creditors, regulators, and tax authorities get the same information.

Financial statements in financial accounting show the five main types of financial information: income, expenses, assets, debts, and equity. The income statement shows how much the business made and how much it spent. Besides, they can include anything from research and development to payroll.

The net income can be seen at the bottom of the income statement. Therefore, on the balance sheet, you can see the assets, liabilities, and equity accounts.

Financial Statements

Balance Sheets

A balance sheet shows a company’s financial situation on a specific date. Moreover, the balance sheet lists the company’s assets, liabilities, and equity. The financial statement carries over from one period to the next. The principles dictate how a business records cash, values assets, and reports debt.

A company’s management, lenders, and investors use the balance sheet to determine how liquid and solvent the company is. It lets these parties compare one balance sheet account to another using financial ratio analysis. For example, the current ratio compares the amount of a company’s existing assets to the number of its current liabilities to determine how likely the firm will be able to clear its short-term debts.

Income Statement

The income statement summarises a company’s operating activity over a specific period. Furthermore, the income statement shows a company’s income, expenses, and net income for a certain time. A company prepares it on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Financial accounting rules tell a company how to recognize revenue, track expenses, and different group costs.

Management can use an income statement, but cost accounting may help a company figure out better ways to produce goods and set prices than financial accounting. Instead, the rules about an income statement are more useful for investors who want to know how profitable a company is and for outsiders who want to figure out how risky or consistent operations are.

Cash Flow Statement

A cash flow statement shows how a business spends its cash over a certain period. The report is divided into sections that summarise the operating, financing and investing sources and applications.

Managers utilize a statement of cash flow to comprehend cash expenditures and receipts better. Accrual accounting is a method that records both paid-for transactions and transactions for which the cash outflow has not yet occurred.  A statement of cash flow takes out only the things that affect cash, which 

Shareholders’ Equity Statement

A statement of shareholders’ equity shows how a company’s equity changes from one period to the next. The report shows how a company’s residual value goes up or down and why the value changes. Moreover, the statement of changes in shareholder equity is a summary of a company’s net income, dividend distributions, ownership distributions, and other equity modifications.

Financial statement users

It is all about putting together financial statements. In addition to management, the following groups use financial accounting reporting to learn about how the business is running:

Investors: Before investing in a company, investors often look at its financial reports, which are made with the help of accounting rules, to see how well the company has been doing and to make plans for its future.

Auditors: Auditors may ask companies to give them a report on their finances. Auditors look at the financial statements to ensure that the companies follow proper accounting rules and that there are no significant mistakes in the reports.

Controlling bodies: Financial statements must be sent to governing bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission by companies that are open to the public. Companies that don’t follow reporting requirements could be fined or taken off the stock exchange.

Suppliers: As part of the process of getting credit, vendors or suppliers may ask for financial statements. Before giving credit or increasing recognition to the amount requested, suppliers may want a credit history or proof of profitability.

Banks: As part of getting a business loan, lenders and other financial institutions will always ask for financial statements. Before giving a company a loan, lenders must see proof through financial accounting that the business is in good operational health. 

The Importance of Financial Accounting

It is something that companies perform for many important reasons:

  • Financial accounting makes a standard set of rules for producing financial statements. This standard set of rules ensures that companies and reporting periods are identical.
  • It reduces risk by making people more responsible. So it is used by lenders, regulators, tax authorities, and other outside parties.
  • Management can gain insight from financial accounting. Even though other methods, like cost accounting, may give better information, they can drive strategic ideas if a company looks at its financial results and makes investment decisions based on those results.
  • Financial accounting makes it easier for people to trust financial reports. The rules are set by bodies that are not part of management. Moreover, it makes the basis for reporting independent of management and a reliable source of accurate information.
  • Financial accounting promotes transparency. Making rules and requirements forces companies to share information about their operations, what risks they face, and how well their finances are doing, no matter how well the company is doing.

Professional Designations in Financial Accounting

The people who work in financial accounting can have several different professional titles.

  1. The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license is the most common accounting credential in the United States that shows you can do financial accounting.
  2. The Chartered Accountant (CA) license shows the same skills outside the United States.
  3. The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation shows more about your ability to do internal management tasks than the financial accounting designation. But there is a test for this license on how to analyze finances.
  4. A Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) demonstrates credibility in maintaining a company’s control environment by overseeing financial accounting processes and procedures.
  5. The Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) exam tests how well you can keep a company’s systems running. Therefore, the results of this test may affect the financial accounting process directly or indirectly.

Finale Takeaway

Financial accounting is the rule that tells people how to make financial statements. These rules dictate how a company translates its operations into a series of generally accepted and standardized financial reports. Financial accounting is essential to holding businesses accountable for their performance and transparent concerning their operations.


Q1. Define Financial Accounting

Ans: Financial accounting is about classifying, recording, summarising, analyzing, and reporting business transactions. The company’s books of accounts keep track of sales, purchases, income, expenses, and other transactions.

Q2. What is the main goal of financial accounting?

Ans: This accounting area’s primary goal is accurately showing a company’s overall performance. In addition, this data provides vital information to external parties—for example, creditors, banks, lenders, investors, the government, and tax authorities.

Q3. What is the difference between Management Accounting and Financial accounting?

Ans: Management accounting is the process of figuring out how much a business costs in a given period. So, it helps managers decide what to do. Therefore, managers plan and build good frameworks.
On the other hand, financial accounting tells outside parties how well a business is doing. Investors, lenders, creditors, shareholders, tax authorities, and financial institutions use this information to make choices.

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