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Accounting is often called “the language of business.” Why? Because it communicates so much of the information that owners, managers, and investors need to evaluate a company’s financial performance. These people are all stakeholders in the business—they’re interested in its activities because they’re affected by them. In fact, the purpose of accounting is to help stakeholders make better business decisions by providing them with financial information.
Good accounting is as vital to your business as good sales. The role of accounting is to provide you and any other stakeholders with financial information about the company, such as sales revenue, the cost of benefits and the amount you owe your suppliers. Without the information from your accountants, you can’t make good financial decisions for your business.
Accountants typically work in one of two major fields. Management accountants provide information and analysis to decision makers inside the organization in order to help them run it. Financial accountants furnish information to individuals and groups both inside and outside the organization in order to help them assess its financial performance.
In other words, management accounting helps you keep your business running while financial accounting tells you how well you’re running it.
Management Accounting plays a key role in helping managers carry out their responsibilities. Because the information that it provides is intended for use by people who perform a wide variety of jobs, the format for reporting information is flexible. Reports are tailored to the needs of individual managers, and the purpose of such reports is to supply relevant, accurate, timely information in a format that will aid managers in making decisions. In preparing, analyzing, and communicating such information, accountants work with individuals from all the functional areas of the organization—human resources, operations, marketing, and finance.
Financial Accounting is responsible for preparing the organization’s financial statements—including the income statement, the statement of owner’s equity, the balance sheet, and the statement of cash flows—that summarize a company’s past performance and evaluate its current financial condition.
Who Uses Financial Accounting Information?
Owners and Managers
In summarizing the outcomes of a company’s financial activities over a specified period of time, financial statements are, in effect, report cards for owners and managers. They show, for example, whether the company did or didn’t make a profit and furnish other information about the firm’s financial condition. They also provide information that managers and owners can use in order to take corrective action.
Investors and Creditors
If you loaned money to a friend to start a business, wouldn’t you want to know how the business was doing? Investors and creditors furnish the money that a company needs to operate, and not surprisingly, they feel the same way. Because they know that it’s impossible to make smart investment and loan decisions without accurate reports on an organization’s financial health, they study financial statements to assess a company’s performance and to make decisions about continued investment.
Businesses are required to furnish financial information to a number of government agencies. Companies must also provide financial information to local, state, and federal taxing agencies.
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