An Analysis Of The Differences Between Financial And Managerial Accounting

Financial accounting and managerial Finance and Accounting are two of the four largest branches of the profession, in addition to tax accounting and auditing. Despite many similarities in approach and usage, there are significant differences, most centering around compliance, accounting standards, and target audiences. Financial accounting and managerial Finance and Accounting are some of the largest branches of the field. In addition, to tax accounting and audit field. Despite many things being alike in approach and usage, there are significant differences, most centering around compliance, accounting standards, and target audiences.

KEY TAKEAWAYS for finance and accounting

Managerial Finance and Accounting involves identifying, measuring, checking, interpreting, and communicating financial data to managers to help them set an organization’s goals.
Financial accounting involves recording and summarizing transactions and economic activity as a result of business operations and reporting it to investors and regulators.
Main Objectives of Both Finance and Accounting Practices

The main purpose of such accounting is to generate useful information for a business’s internal decision-making. Business managers collect data that feed into strategic planning. This is what helps management set proper goals. Also, it encourages an efficient directing of company resources.

Financial accounting also has some internal uses, but its focus is on informing those outside of a business. The final accounts or financial statements made through financial accounting are created to disclose the firm’s business prowess and financial health.

Managerial accounting is made for a company’s executives. Financial accounting is customized for its investors, creditors, and industry bodies.

Past and Present Use

  • The information created using finance and accounting is totally historical. A financial statement has data for a defined period of time.
  • Managerial accounting is concerned with past performance but also creates business forecasts. Finance and AccountingThis type of accounting informs business decisions.
  • Investors and lenders often use financial statements to create forecasts of their own. In this sense, financial accounting is somewhat forward-looking.
  • Nevertheless, no future forecasting is to be done with the statements issued by a financial accountant.

Regulation and Uniformity in Finance and Accounting

The biggest practical difference between financial and managerial accounting is their legal status. Reports made through managerial accounting are only circulated internally. Each company can create its system and rules on management reports.

In contrast, financial accounting is highly regulated. This is especially true with the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow documents. Since this information is released for public use and is highly awaited by investors, companies are very picky about how they do calculations. Also, how figures are noted down and in what format the reports appear.

The FASB or Financial Accounting Standards Board, under the umbrella of the SEC or Securities and Exchange Commission, makes financial accounting law in the United States. The sum of these laws is referred to as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

This uniformity allows investors, lenders, and analysts to compare companies directly based on their financial statements.

Moreover, financial statements are released regularly, establishing consistency of external information flows.

Reporting Details in Finance and Accounting

Financial accounting reports are aggregated, concise, and generic in nature. Information is simultaneously more transparent and less revealing.

This is different from managerial accounting in that there can be reasons to highlight a thing that is particularly relevant or even downplay information that is not. For example, you should bury lower bonuses in the total number for expenses to avoid angering mid-to-lower level staff who peruse the report.

Managerial accounting reports are very detailed, technical, specific, and exploratory. Companies are always looking for a competitive edge. So they may examine many details that could seem odd or confusing to outside parties.

What Are the Types of Accountants?

There are four main paths that an accountant can follow:

A tax accountant works for businesses or individuals to prepare and make tax returns. This is a year-round task when it involves large businesses or high-net-worth people.
An auditor examines books made by other accountants to ensure that they are proper and comply with tax laws.

A financial accountant makes detailed reports on a public company’s revenue and outflow for the preceding quarter and year that are given to shareholders and regulators.
A managerial accountant readies financial reports that help management make decisions about the company’s future direction.

What Do Accountants Do All Day?

Whether managerial or financial accountants, they spend a lot of their time updating the books. They are responsible for properly recording each transaction a company makes, whether paying a contractor or purchasing a new machine.

Their deep knowledge of the company’s transactions allows them to specialize in financial or managerial reporting.

What Are the Highest-Paid Jobs in Finance and Accounting?

As in any profession, there are steps up the food chain. In accounting, some are dependent on post-graduate education and professional experience. The top three:

  • A company controller is the lead accountant and is highly involved in the company’s management decisions.
  • A certified management accountant (CMA) has special strategic thinking and business analysis training.
  • A certified public accountant (CPA) is a government-licensed professional with post-graduate work and some Finance and Accounting experience. (For the whole world other than the US U.S., this is a chartered accountant.)

The following categories also show the differences between financial and managerial accounting.


Financial accounting only cares about generating a profit rather than the overall system of the company’s work. Conversely, managerial accounting looks for bottleneck operations and examines ways to enhance profits by eliminating bottleneck issues.


Financial accounting is targeted on creating financial statements to be givrn to internal and external stakeholders and the public. Managerial accounting focuses on operational side of things to be shared within a business.


Financial accounting sees the entire business. On the other hand managerial accounting reports at a more detailed level. Managerial accounting focuses on detailed reports like profits by product, goods line, customer, and geographic region.


A business’s profitability and efficiency are reported through financial accounting. Managerial accounting reports on what is the thing that is causing a problem and how to fix that problem.


Financial statements are due at the close of an accounting period. However, managerial reports may be given more frequently to provide managers with the right information they can act on immediately.


Considerable precision is required to prove that financial records are correct. Financial accounting relies on accurate data for reporting, while managerial accounting frequently deals with estimates instead of proven facts.


When managerial accounting is made for internal consumption, there are no standards to compile that data. On the other hand, financial accounting has to follow various accounting standards.


Financial accounting looks to the past to examine financial results already achieved, so it is historically focused. Managerial accounting looks to the future with forecasting.


Financial accounting concerns knowing the proper value of a company’s assets and liabilities. Managerial accounting is only concerned with these items’ value on a company’s productivity.
Does Managerial Accounting Follow GAAP?

Financial accounting reports are distributed inside and outside a business and governed by GAAP and IFRS. The external publication of financial statements requires following regulations to provide correct information.

Managerial accounting reports are shared internally only and are, therefore, not subject to such rules and regulations and are not required by laws to follow any accounting standard.
The Bottom Line when it comes to finance and accounting

The key differences between managerial accounting and financial accounting relate to the intended users of the information.

Managerial accounting data is aimed at helping managers make well-informed business decisions on the direction of the company. Financial accounting reports a company’s performance for a specific period and does it in the most straightforward way possible.

Financial accountants must conform to certain standards to maintain the company’s publicly traded status. Even privately-held companies in the U.S. must conform to GAAP standards to meet the disclosure requirements of financial institutions they borrow money from.

Because managerial accounting is not for external users, it can be modified to meet the timely specific needs of its intended users. This may vary considerably by company or even by department within a company.

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