Financial Accounting vs Management Accounting

Last Updated: 22 Jun 2020
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Management accounting is a field of accounting that analyzes and provides cost information to the internal management for the purposes of planning, controlling and decision making. Management accounting refers to accounting information developed for managers within an organization.

CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) defines Management accounting as “Management Accounting is the process of identification, measurement, accumulation, analysis, preparation, interpretation, and communication of information that used by management to plan, evaluate, and control within an entity and to assure appropriate use of an accountability for its resources”. This is the phase of accounting concerned with providing information to managers for use in planning and controlling operations and in decision making.

Managerial accounting is concerned with providing information to managers i. e. people inside an organization who direct and control its operations. In contrast, financial accounting is concerned with providing information to stockholders, creditors, and others who are outside an organization. Managerial accounting provides the essential data with which organizations are actually run. Financial accounting provides the scorecard by which a company’s past performance is judged.

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Because it is manager oriented, any study of managerial accounting must be preceded by some understanding of what managers do, the information managers need, and the general business environment. The differences between management accounting and financial accounting include 1. Management accounting provides information to people within an organization while financial accounting is mainly for those outside it, such as shareholders 2. Financial accounting is required by law while management accounting is not.

Specific standards and formats may be required for statutory accounts such as in the I. A. S International Accounting Standard within Europe. 3. Financial accounting covers the entire organization while management accounting may be concerned with particular products or cost centres. Introduction Financial accounting and management accounting both prepare and analyze financial data. However, certain aspects of these two fields are very different. This article discusses the various differences between financial accounting and management accounting.

The differing characteristics to be discussed include the users of information, the types of information, regulatory oversight, and frequency of reporting. Users of Information Financial accounting and management accounting provide information to two different user groups. Financial accounting primarily provides information for external users of accounting data, such as investors and creditors. On the other hand, management accounting provides information for internal users of accounting data. Internal users include employees, managers, and executives of the company.

Types of Information The type of information required by the different user groups also differs. External users primarily rely on financial information about the company. They analyze this information in conjunction with general economic information, such as information about the industry in which the company operates. External users focus on broad information that reveals the overall performance of the company as a whole. In addition, financial accounting only reports information on financial transactions that have occurred in the past.

Internal users need to review financial information about the company, such as financial statement information. They also use non-financial information about the company, such as customer satisfaction levels and competitor data. Internal users focus on detailed information that reveals the performance of particular subunits of the company, such as divisions or departments. In addition, management accounting concentrates on past and present information, as well as the forecasting of future financial transactions.

Regulatory Oversight. In order to protect public interest, financial accounting is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). In contrast, management accounting is not regulated by any specific agencies. This is because the information provided by management accounting is intended for internal users only and is not available to the public. Therefore, since there is no public interest, there is no need to protect public interest regarding this information.

Frequency of Reporting The focus of financial accounting is reporting on historical information. The information is reported periodically. It is often broken down into monthly, quarterly, and annual reporting periods. At a minimum, financial accounting information must be reported annually. On the contrary, management accounting information is reported continually. Internal users need to evaluate past, present, and potential future information in order to make decisions. Therefore, these users continuously need information in order to make the appropriate decisions.

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Financial Accounting vs Management Accounting. (2017, May 20). Retrieved from

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