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Top 20 Financial Accounting Terms That You Should Know

The 21st century has seen a lot of changes across sectors and industries. A prominent example of this change is the finance sector. In the 18th and 19th centuries and earlier, finance was all about transactions between a certain number of parties and the plying of commercial interests by service or commodities merchants or merchant groups, etc.


The barter trade was one of the first pieces of evidence of transactions, although coin or financial transactions came later. Nonetheless, with the introduction of coins and rising economies due to the onset of civilization, people began to put frameworks into place that would govern the flow of money. Such organizations were the forerunners of modern accounting firms that take care of an organization or firm’s accounting expenses. 

What is Financial Accounting

Financial accounting serves as the foundation of business operations, enabling organizations to maintain accurate and reliable records of their financial transactions. By employing basic accounting terms and principles, businesses can effectively track, analyze, and report their financial information. Check out our Financial Analysis, Valuation, & Risk Management course and Top 10 Real-Time Finance Projects for Beginners.

Importance of Financial Accounting in Business

Financial accounting plays a vital role in businesses of all sizes, serving as a fundamental tool for assessing the financial health and performance of an organization. By adhering to standardized basic accounting terms and principles, businesses can accurately measure their revenue, expenses, assets, and liabilities. This ensures transparency and accountability, facilitating informed decision-making by business owners, investors, and stakeholders. Basic accounting terms, such as assets, liabilities, and equity, provide a common language for interpreting financial statements, enabling effective communication and evaluation of a company’s financial position.

Role of Financial Accounting in Decision-Making

Financial accounting provides crucial information that drives key business decisions. It allows managers to evaluate the profitability of different products or services, determine cost structures, and assess investment opportunities. By analyzing financial statements and utilizing basic accounting terms and basic accounting terminology, decision-makers can identify areas for improvement, control expenses, and allocate resources more efficiently. Financial accounting also enables comparisons over time, aiding in the identification of trends and patterns that guide strategic planning and risk management. Learn about Finance management: – Meaning, Scope, & Importance and cash-flow-top-10-terms-you-must-know.

How to Use These Basic Accounting Terms Guide

To leverage the power of financial accounting, it is essential to have a solid understanding of basic accounting terms, basic accounting terminology and their applications. By familiarizing themselves with key basic accounting terms, such as revenue, expenses, assets, liabilities, and equity, individuals can interpret financial statements and reports more effectively. This guide aims to simplify complex accounting terminology and provide practical examples to illustrate their usage. By mastering these basic accounting terms, professionals across various fields can navigate financial information with confidence and contribute to informed decision-making within their organizations.

Top 20 Financial Accounting Terms

Financial accounting is a key aspect of any modern business, whether performed in-house or outsourced to a specialized firm. Here are some basic accounting terms that are most commonly used, that you should know about: 


  1. Balance sheet
  2. Capital
  3. Equity
  4. Invoice 
  5. Liquidity
  6. Single-entry bookkeeping
  7. Generally accepted accounting principles 
  8. Departmental accounting
  9. Certified public accountant
  10. Bank statement
  11. Chart of accounts
  12. Depreciation
  13. Inflation
  14. Fixed asset
  15. General ledger
  16. Insolvency
  17. Liability
  18. Reconciliation
  19. Cash basis accounting
  20. Budgeting

What do these Financial Accounting terms mean?

Let’s understand what each of these basic accounting terms mean and how they are used in the world of financial accounting.


  1. Balance sheet

    A balance sheet is a financial statement where a company’s financial transactions are recorded. It will display all the assets and liabilities of that organization at the end of a financial year. And, both sides of the balance sheet must have the same figure to ensure that the financial data matches the expenses and gains experience by the business. 

    A balance sheet also includes the information regarding the accounts payable and receivable of the business.

    This financial statement can be used to measure the financial stability and condition of an organization.  

  2. Capital

    Capital refers to either assets or possessions owned by a company or a firm in question. These assets or possessions in question can either be financial or have a financial value of their own.

    The term liquid capital often refers to the amount of capital obtained from the deduction of current assets from current liabilities.

  3. Equity

    Equity refers to the financial interest a person or a group has in a particular firm or organization. This financial interest is measured by the difference between the person, group, or group’s assets and liabilities.

    That difference is considered as the percentage of the company stock the person or group or groups have an interest in.

  4. Invoice

    An invoice refers to a document wherein a company or a firm lists the price for its services or goods that its clients avail of or purchase from it. 

    It usually has details like the price of a commodity or services, the additional costs due to the taxes levied on the same, as well as the address of the firm or the organization.

  5. Liquidity

    Liquidity refers to the ability of a firm or an organization to be able to convert its assets into ready cash or other financial value-based units.

  6. Single-entry bookkeeping

    Single-entry bookkeeping is a practice that is different from that of double-entry bookkeeping. Whereas in double-entry bookkeeping, organizations make entries for both debit and credit, it makes cash-only entries as part of single-entry bookkeeping.

    Cash-only entries refer to entries made regarding the inflow and outflow of cash.

  7. Generally accepted accounting principles

    Generally accepted accounting principles refer to the set of principles that all accountants and professionals working at their firm or an organization adhere to while working for them. 

    These principles form a structural framework and define their code of conduct, etc.  

  8. Departmental accounting

    Departmental accounting essentially refers to all the accounting-related expenses, such as incomes and expenses, of the various departments of an organization. When all of these departmental accounts are combined, people can get an idea of the accounting-related expenses of the whole company.

  9. Certified public accountant

    A certified public accountant is an accounting professional who has passed the official exam for accountants and is thus liable to sign off on tax returns and perform internally or otherwise audits for his/her clients, etc.  

    They can also set up independent firms should they choose to do so.

  10. Bank statement

    A bank statement refers to a financial report or document that a bank sends to a person or an organization or a firm detailing their monthly bank balance. It also contains details of the transactions, and the overall debit and credit of funds into an account.

  11. Chart of accounts

    A chart of accounts refers to the simplified index of the various accounts of the financial value of the organization or firm in question. It is similar to a list of contents at the beginning of a book. 

  12. Depreciation

    Depreciation refers to the decrease in the value of a particular asset belonging to the firm or organization over some time. In the world of accounting, such a decrease is often marked under the income section of the ledger as an expense. 

    Depreciation generally takes place when a particular asset is widely available.

  13. Inflation

    Inflation refers to the increase in the asset of an organization or a firm over some time. It is something that generally takes place when a particular asset is not available as freely as it was. 

  14. Fixed asset

    Fixed assets refer to assets that are retained by an organization or a firm for a long period. Often these fixed assets can experience depreciation over some time.

  15. General ledger

    A general ledger refers to the generalized representation and entry of a company’s financial accounts and related transactions entered into sub-ledger-based accounts as per the notations in the organization or firm’s chart of accounts.

  16. Insolvency

    Insolvency essentially refers to the situation wherein an organization or a firm in question is no longer in a position where it can pay out its debts. 

    Notably, there are two main types of insolvency in the world of financial accounting: balance sheet-based insolvency and cash flow-based insolvency. While the former can end in bankruptcy, the latter can still be solved with a negotiation.

  17. Liabilities

    Liabilities refer to the debts that an organization or a firm has to pay to resolve them. Examples of types of liabilities can involve employee payroll, loans, payable accounts, etc.

  18. Reconciliation

    Reconciliation refers to the current or present financial value of an asset owned by an organization or a firm. 

    In simple terms, reconciliation compares the ability of an organization or a firm to buy or purchase assets in the future with that of the present. 

    This comparison is to predict certain cash flow trends and plan better for the future. 

  19. Cash basis accounting

    Cash basis accounting refers to the accounting that is carried out solely based on cash-related transactions, such as the income and expenses of an organization or a firm. This is why, they do not require receivable or payable accounts.

  20. Budgeting

    Budgeting refers to the entire set of income and expenses, including the accounts payable, for a given financial year or period that an organization or a firm makes to set a cap or provide an idea of how the period for which the budget has been created is going to look financially.

Now, in the world of financial accounting, there are three main categories into which the above accounting terminology can be grouped into:


Capital Liquidity Insolvency
Reconciliation  General ledger
Fixed Asset Bank Statement
Certified Public Accountant
Departmental Accounting

Parting thoughts

In conclusion, financial accounting is a critical discipline that facilitates the accurate recording, analysis, and reporting of financial information within a business. The application of basic accounting terms and principles ensures consistency and transparency in financial reporting, allowing businesses to make sound decisions. By understanding the importance of financial accounting and important accounting terms in business operations and decision-making, individuals can harness its power to assess performance, allocate resources effectively, and identify areas for growth. With a strong grasp of important and basic accounting terms, professionals can navigate the complex world of finance, contributing to the success and sustainability of their organizations.


What can help you further? Well, a professional course in finance and financial technologies from Hero Vired. Offering placement assurance, Hero Vired and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have collaborated to offer an integrated program to explore the ways in which new technologies are disrupting the financial services industry. Being a part-time course, it allows working and non-working individuals to sharpen their skills and be ready for the technological changes in the sector.



Accrual accounting records transactions when they occur, regardless of cash flow, while cash accounting only recognizes transactions when cash is received or disbursed.
Depreciation is the allocation of cost for tangible assets over their useful lives, while amortization is the allocation of cost for intangible assets over their useful lives in financial statements.
Goodwill represents the intangible value of a company's reputation, customer base, and other non-physical assets. It is recorded on the balance sheet and can arise from acquisitions or mergers.
Accounting terms are important as they provide a standardized language for communicating financial information, facilitating accurate interpretation, analysis, and decision-making in the business and financial world.

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