Generally Accepted Accounting Principles Accounting Essay


Gilbert Finance Accounting and Accountants Leeds believe that the information provided by financial accounting has a general informative purpose. It does not contain many estimates, is used mostly for investment and credit decisions, and is issued on a regular basis usually annually. In particular, financial accounting provides financial statements that include information about the loss and profit of an organization, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for the reporting periods.

Management Accounting

Gilbert Finance & Accounting and Accountants Leeds know that unlike financial accounting, management accounting is aimed at internal users, such as the company's management or board of directors. Its purpose is to provide information which will help to control the company's operations and make decisions.

Management accounting reports are prepared on an as-needed basis, and contain more detailed information than those for financial accounting. Such information is needed for the management to have a full picture of the current state of the whole organization or a specific project. In addition, management accounting statements do not have to comply with GAAP or any other regulations, and internal cost/benefit evaluation determines what kind and how much information they should report.

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Examples of management accounting reports are sales forecasting or cost analysis reports.

So, Gilbert Finance & Accounting and Accountants Leeds, believe that an important feature that differentiates the two types of business accounting is that financial accounting provides historical data and current financial information of the company for a wide range of users, while management accounting includes analysis and estimates for the future, focuses on providing confidential data for taking decisions to influence upcoming decisions and future operations.

First and foremost, management accounting is concerned with the provision of information to people within the organization or 'internal parties' (i.e. managers inside the organization) to help them to make better decisions and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of existing operations, whereas financial accounting is concerned with the provision of information to 'external parties' outside the organization (e.g. shareholders, creditors, tax authorities, regulators, potential investors, and etc). Thus, management accounting could be called 'internal reporting' and financial accounting could be called 'external reporting'.

       Secondly, there is a statutory requirement for public limited companies to produce annual financial accounts regardless of whether or not management regards this information as useful. It must be done as it is 'mandatory'. Management accounting, by contrast, is entirely optional and information should be produced only if it is considered that benefits from the use of the information by management exceed the cost of collecting it. Thus, it is not 'mandatory'. A company is completely free to do as much or as little as it wishes.

        Thirdly, financial accounting reports describe the whole of the business whereas management accounting focuses on small parts of the organization such as the cost and profitability of products, services, customers and activities. In addition, management accounting information measures the economic performance of decentralized operating units, such as parts, segments, divisions or departments.

      Besides, financial accounting statements must be prepared to conform with the legal requirements and the generally accepted accounting principles established by the regulatory bodies such as the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in the USA, the Accounting Standards Board (ASB) in the UK and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to ensure the uniformity and consistency that is required for external financial statements are achieved so that the inter-company and historical comparisons are possible. Thus, financial accounting data should be objective and verifiable. In contrast, management accountants are not required to adhere to generally accepted accounting principles when providing managerial information for internal purposes. Instead, the focus is on the serving management's needs and providing information that is useful to managers relating to their decision-making, planning and control functions.

     Furthermore, financial accounting reports what has happened in the past in an organization, whereas management accounting is concerned with future information as well as past information. Decisions are concerned with future events and management therefore requires details of expected future costs and revenues. In other words, financial accounting is past-oriented (eg. Reports on 2010 performance were prepared in 2011) and management accounting is future-oriented (eg. Budget for 2011 was prepared in 2010).


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      In addition, a detailed set of financial accounts is published annually and less detailed accounts are published semi-annually. Management requires information quickly if it is to act on it. Consequently, management accounting reports on various activities may be prepared at daily, weekly or monthly intervals.

Financial and management accounting are both important tools for a business, but serve different purposes. A business uses accounting to determine operational plans in the future, to review past performance and to check current business functions. Management and financial accounting have different audiences, as investors are not usually involved in the day-to-day operations of the business but are concerned about their investment, whereas managers need information quickly to make daily business decisions.

Financial Accounting

Financial accounting is used to present the financial health of an organization to its external stakeholders. Board of directors, stockholders, financial institutions and other investors are the audience for financial accounting reports. Financial accounting presents a specific period of time in the past and enables the audience to see how the company has performed. Financial accounting reports must be filed on an annual basis, and for publically traded companies, the annual report must be made part of the public record.

Management Accounting

Management or managerial accounting is used by managers to make decisions concerning the day-to-day operations of a business. It is based not on past performance, but on current and future trends, which does not allow for exact numbers. Because managers often have to make operation decisions in a short period of time in a fluctuating environment, management accounting relies heavily on forecasting of markets and trends.


Management accounting is presented internally, whereas financial accounting is meant for external stakeholders. Although financial management is of great importance to current and potential investors, management accounting is necessary for managers to make current and future financial decisions. Financial accounting is precise and must adhere to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), but management accounting is often more of a guess or estimate, since most managers do not have time for exact numbers when a decision needs to be made.

Financial accounting has its focus on the financial statements which are distributed to stockholders, lenders, financial analysts, and others outside of the company. Courses in financial accounting cover the generally accepted accounting principles which must be followed when reporting the results of a corporation's past transactions on its balance sheet, income statement, statement of cash flows, and statement of changes in stockholders' equity.

Managerial accounting has its focus on providing information within the company so that its management can operate the company more effectively.  Managerial accounting and cost accounting also provide instructions on computing the cost of products at a manufacturing enterprise. These costs will then be used in the external financial statements. In addition to cost systems for manufacturers, courses in managerial accounting will include topics such as cost behavior, break-even point, profit planning, operational budgeting, capital budgeting, relevant costs for decision making, activity based costing, and standard costing. (got table form. check out the page)

Accounting Periods

Management accounting is an internal business function focusing on allocating production costs to goods and services. Budgets are also prepared at specific times each year and followed by each company department to ensure no cost overruns occur during operations. Management accounting is a continuous process or analyzing, measuring and allocating costs.

Financial accounting uses fiscal or calendar accounting periods to record and report financial information. Most companies use calendar months as its accounting period. Financial information is collected, inputted into the company's accounting system and reported on time-sensitive financial statements. Annual financial statements are prepared similar to the monthly statements.

End Users

Executive and operational managers are the end users of management accounting information. They use this information to make decisions about production materials and labor used in the production processes. Management may also determine how to allocate the company's overhead resources by the cost involved in the allocation process.

Financial accounting information is primarily used by banks, lenders and investors. These groups review the company's financial information to determine if the company represents a wise investment for their capital resources.

Rules and Standards

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Management accounting is not governed by any national or state accounting rules and principles. Companies are allowed to allocate costs based on its production methods and processes. Management accounting reports are prepared in a format that translates internal financial information into valuable documents manager's use to make business decisions.

Financial accounting information is prepared according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). GAAP is the highest authority regarding U.S. accounting principles and is required for all companies when preparing financial statements.

Professional Licensure

The Institute of Management Accountants is the leading U.S. professional institution for management accounting guidelines. They offer members the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) licensure, which focuses on implementing and using traditional management accounting principles.

The Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license is the leading public accounting license offered through individual state accountancy boards. This license prepares accountants for the professional accounting industry and focuses on auditing, tax, business principles and regulations.

The objective of the financial accounting department is to provide investors, and governing bodies, with a historically accurate report of a company's financial condition.  End users of financial accounting reports include investors and creditors, as well as government / regulatory agencies.  For example, financial accounting reports are sent to government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The objective of managerial accounting is to provide internal decision makers with data they can use to control, or improve, the operation of the business.  A management report, such as a budget, is used by line managers to understand how their individual operating unit is contributing to the profitability goals of a company.  In general, financial accounting reports are externally focused, while managerial accounting reports have an internal focus.

Financial Accounting Reports

Financial and managerial accounting processes will also differ in the types of reports produced by each group.  Financial reports provide their end users with a holistic and historical account of the company's financial health.  These reports will also follow a fairly narrowly defined format and approach.  For example, these reports will record data as prescribed by GAPP, or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

Managerial Accounting Reports

As previously mentioned, managerial reports are internally focused.  They can provide the end user with both a historical account of a business operation's performance as well as a forward-looking forecast.  Reports are typically prepared on a weekly or monthly basis by managers or business analysts.  While the structure of the report is not prescribed by a governing body, the data contained in the report will often be gathered using a statistical approach, and provide readers with variance explanations.

EXHIBIT 1.2Comparative Features of Managerial versus Financial Accounting Information

Financial Accounting

Management Accounting

External users of financial information

Internal users of financial information

Must comply with GAAP

Need not comply with GAAP

Must generate accurate and timely data

Emphasizes relevance and flexibility of data

Past orientation

Future orientation

Financial information

Nonfinancial (e.g., speed of delivery, customer complaints) as well as financial information

Looks at the business as a whole

Focuses on parts as well as on the whole of a business

Summary reports

Detailed reports by products, departments, or other segments

Primarily stands by itself

Draws heavily from other disciplines such as finance, economics, information systems, marketing, operations/production management, and quantitative methods