Managerial Accounting vs. Financial Accounting: Similarities and Differences

Managerial Accounting vs. Financial Accounting: Similarities and Differences

financial vs managerial accounting

Does Managerial Accounting Follow GAAP?

Similar job titles include cost accountant, private accountant, corporate accountant, management accountant and industrial accountant. These positions monitor the company’s financial accounts and provide managers information to support business decisions. The two primary responsibilities of accountants — whether they work as employees or outside consultants — are managerial accounting and financial accounting. Both are crucial to a company’s success, for very different reasons. Students preparing for a career in accounting need to understand the distinct functions of managerial accounting vs. financial accounting, as well as the characteristics that the two share.

The differences are in the financial data that financial accountants and managerial accountants focus on, the form of their presentations and the people to whom they report their findings. While all managerial accountants have backgrounds in accounting principles, financial research and report writing, their duties vary based on the financial and management needs of the organization. Managerial accountants often monitor company investments in conjunction with other managers. They may also participate in risk management, tax planning, preparation of financial statements and supervision of bookkeepers and other office staff.

On the other hand, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is a set of passionable accounting standards stating how particular types of transactions and other events should be reported in financial statements. IFRS are issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).


Accountants prepare these documents and send them directly to personnel within a company, such as managers and executives. These reports break down numbers and projections related to departments, products, employees and customers and how they affect the company. Financial accountants supervise tax payments, maintain the company’s financial records and analyze financial data to forecast market trends.

financial vs managerial accounting

GAAP aims to improve the clarity, consistency, and comparability of the communication of financial information. Those in managerial accounting typically have the designation of Certified Managerial Accountant while financial accountants must comply with various strict accounting standards and possess the designation of Certified Public Accountant. While managerial accounting puts out profit and loss statements, job costing reports, and operating budgets, financial accounting delivers numbers only for those on the outside who need to determine the company’s market evaluation. Managerial accounting focuses on problems and solutions within an organization while financial accounting is concerned with profitability from without. Managerial accountants create internal operational reports, while financial accountants create financial statements that, although also distributed internally, hold tremendous importance outside the company.

Who uses financial accounting vs managerial accounting?

Financial accounting is quite different. That’s what makes financial accounting a little easier for young students. The bottom line is financial accounting is about making people like you (external users) and managerial accounting is about making things work.

Stockholders, suppliers, banks, employees, government agencies, business owners, and other stakeholders are examples of people interested in receiving such information for decision making purposes. Managerial accounting and financial accounting are both widely recognized and accepted fields of accounting.

Which is easier financial or managerial accounting?

The difference between financial and managerial accounting is that financial accounting is the collection of accounting data to create financial statements, while managerial accounting is the internal processing used to account for business transactions.

Financial accountancy is governed by both local and international accounting standards. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) is the standard framework of guidelines for financial accounting used in any given jurisdiction.

For example, both require individuals to monitor financial records and present their findings based on insights from the data. Both also require a thorough knowledge of accounting principles and management theory, as well as a background in the company’s business lines.

Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) refer to a common set of accounting principles, standards, and procedures issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). Public companies in the United States must follow GAAP when their accountants compile their financial statements. GAAP is a combination of authoritative standards (set by policy boards) and the commonly accepted ways of recording and reporting accounting information.

For financial managers, a job category that overlaps managerial accountants, top job candidates have a master’s degree in business administration, finance, accounting or economics. The certification for each of these types of accounting is different as well. People who have been trained in financial accounting have a Certified Public Accountant designation, while those with a Certified Management Accountant designation are trained in managerial accounting. Financial accounting reports analyze what happened over a specific time period without making recommendations for the future.

  • GAAP is a combination of authoritative standards (set by policy boards) and the commonly accepted ways of recording and reporting accounting information.
  • Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) refer to a common set of accounting principles, standards, and procedures issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).

Difference between Managerial and Financial Accounting

As mentioned above, all financial reports filed with the SEC must be submitted by a CPA, and becoming a CPA can boost a financial accountant’s career by opening professional opportunities and attracting clients. The CFA Institute’s Chartered Financial Analyst certification program entails passing a three-level exam offered to candidates who have a bachelor’s degree and at least four years of work experience. Another helpful certification for financial accountants is the Certified Internal Auditor designation awarded by the Institute of Internal Auditors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that employers prefer accountant candidates who have a master’s degree in accounting or business administration with a concentration in accounting.

Although these principles work to improve the transparency in financial statements, they do not provide any guarantee that a company’s financial statements are free from errors or omissions that are intended to mislead investors. There is plenty of room within GAAP for unscrupulous accountants to distort figures. So, even when a company uses GAAP, you still need to scrutinize its financial statements. Accountants are directed to first consult sources at the top of the hierarchy and then proceed to lower levels only if there is no relevant pronouncement at a higher level. The FASB’s Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 162 provides a detailed explanation of the hierarchy.

For other managerial accounting positions, certification isn’t mandatory but can be helpful for career advancement. The Institute of Management Accountants offers the Certified Management Accountant certification program. Managerial accountants prepare financial reports for organizations to plan budgets and improve the company’s financial performance.

A typical managerial accounting report may compare budgeted costs to actual cost, analyze sources of revenue or explore the relationship among cost, volume and profit. Some accountants focus all of their efforts on tax returns, while others do nothing but investigate the forensic evidence in accounting records. Managerial accounting and financial accounting are similar in that they’re financially focused, produce financial reports, have a specific set of users and require a deep understanding of accounting theory. Financial managers keep the finances of the organization they work for in check, and work to support the leadership of the organization with financial advice.

They provide the costs of an organization’s products and services, budgets, and performance reports, which are comparisons of budgets with actual results. According to the BLS, employers prefer financial accounting candidates who have a master’s degree in accounting or business administration with a concentration in accounting.

Located in Coral Gables, Florida, the University of Miami (UM) is a private, research university. It is organized into a dozen colleges and schools, and it is home to over 16k students. Located in Waltham, Massachusetts, just west of Boston, Bentley University specializes in delivering business education.

financial vs managerial accounting

With IFRS becoming more widespread on the international scene, consistency in financial reporting has become more prevalent between global organizations. Financial accounting (or financial accountancy) is the field of accounting concerned with the summary, analysis and reporting of financial transactions related to a business. This involves the preparation of financial statements available for public use.

Bentley offers nearly a dozen different degrees in the business fields, from joint technology and business programs to traditional majors in accounting, finance, management, and more. While the focus of managerial accounting is internal, the focus of financial accounting is external, with a focus on creating accurate financial statements that can be shared outside the company. Managerial accounting typically runs a variety of operational reports throughout the month, while financial accounting runs financial statements at the end of the accounting period.

Companies value both fields and may require accountants to have specialized knowledge in the area or a certain certification. The certified public accountant designation — CPA for short — is the gold standard for accountants who want to practice financial accounting. The certified management accountant designation, or CMA, is a designation that focuses more specifically on the cost management, performance management and decision analysis that managerial accountants practice. Their reports are usually less formal and prepared on a more ad hoc basis. Choosing between financial accounting and managerial accounting requires understanding the skills and job responsibilities that distinguish the two fields.

Accounting programs typically require students to take classes in both managerial and financial accounting before they’re awarded an accounting degree. Reports and formatting for managerial accounting are less regulated. Companies aren’t required to perform managerial accounting, so there are no standards for what type of information reports must contain or how the information is presented. Generally, though, managerial accounting reports place a heavier focus on costs the company has incurred.

Financial accounting is focused on creating financial statements to be shared internal and external stakeholders and the public. Managerial accounting focuses on operational reporting to be shared within a company. Management, or managerial, accounting is used to run companies and help managers make important financial decisions.

While the work done by financial accountants is used internally, financial analysts communicate the company’s finances to the outside world. The financial reports prepared by financial accountants describe the organization’s performance for investors, creditors and government regulators, among other external parties. Financial accountants produce financial statements based on the accounting standards in a given jurisdiction.

It includes the standards, conventions and rules that accountants follow in recording and summarizing and in the preparation of financial statements. In the managerial accounting vs. financial accounting decision facing students, one major distinction is the audience for the financial reports each position prepares.

Under financial accounting, reports are prepared using GAAP, whereas under managerial accounting, information that is useful to management for its decision making is not recorded using GAAP. Managerial accounting can be thought of as internal accounting, in that it is used to help in the running of the company. The information produced by managerial accountants enables managers and executives to make important decisions related to almost every aspect of the company. Managerial accountants give their work directly to managers and other decision makers within their company, and their reports concern category breakdowns and often projections into the future.

Managerial accountants whose responsibilities include filing reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are required to be certified public accountants.