Accounting is the business discipline that studies how a company's financial information can be manipulated and presented, in a meaningful way, to enhance the decision-usefulness of that financial information. We typically think of accounting as incorporating three related disciplines: financial accounting, management accounting, and auditing.
Financial accounting looks to present financial information that is useful to external users, such as investors and creditors, who use this information to make resource allocation decisions between businesses. This information is subject to IFRS or US GAAP, is prepared using double-entry bookkeeping, and is presented in four required financial statements: the balance sheet, the income statement, the cash flow statement, and the statement of owner's equity.
Management accounting deals with information that is used by internal users, such as a business's managers, who use this information to make resource allocation decisions within the firm. These include short-run production decisions and long-run capital budgeting decisions. (At BrainMass.com, we look at capital budgeting decisions under Corporate Finance.)
Management accounting information comes in a variety of financial reports, including budgets. This information is not subject to accounting standards, and how this information is prepared changes based on the costs of collecting financial information and the benefits that this information has for management decision-making. As a result, a variety of different management accounting techniques are used.
Auditing typically refers to financial auditing of public companies. Financial audits are conducted by independant external auditors, who provide an opinion about a company's financial reports. These auditors must adhere to Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS) in the United States, and their opinions give investors reasonable assurance that financial reports are true, fair, and adhere to applicable accounting standards. The auditor must also include an opinion about the effectiveness of a company's internal controls.
In addition to the financial audit, there is a range of many different types of audit and assurance services. Many financial auditing firms also provide a range of these services, giving feedback about the effectiveness of a company's processes and procedures. These services may also be provided by in-house internal auditors that work within a single company.© BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com February 17, 2020, 7:27 am ad1c9bdddf