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Financial Accounting vs Management Accounting

30 Mar 2023
Last updated on: June 5, 2023
Do you know about the difference between financial accounting and management accounting? Financial and managerial accounting are both essential fields...
Difference between financial accounting and management accounting

Do you know about the difference between financial accounting and management accounting? Financial and managerial accounting are both essential fields in the world of business. Both play a crucial role in helping an organization understand their financial performance, enabling it to make strategic decisions.

Financial and managerial accounting have two similarities, but they also differ from each other in important ways. Financial accounting focuses on providing useful information for external stakeholders, such as investors and creditors, while management accounting is more geared toward internal decision-making.

In this article, we'll explore financial accounting vs managerial accounting so you can better understand how each one is used and why it's important to be aware of them. 

What Is Financial Accounting? 

Financial Accounting is a specialized accounting system that provides essential financial information to stakeholders. It assists organizations in the creation of comprehensive and reliable financial statements which can be used for financial analysis, valuation, & risk management.
Difference between financial accounting and management accounting
Financial Accounting is mainly concerned with the requirements of external stakeholders, such as investors and creditors. It aims to provide information that accurately represents an organization's financial performance throughout a period of time. This includes income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and other documents related to a financial activity. Financial and managerial accounting are also a bit similar, but there is a bit of similarities; this is why it is important to know about the difference between financial accounting and management accounting.

Financial accounting also complies with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which are a set of standards designed to ensure that financial statements reflect an accurate picture of a business’s financial position. Continue reading to learn about financial accounting vs management accounting.

What Is Management Accounting? 

Management accounting offers vital insights to help managers construct effective plans, policies, and strategies that will ensure the success of their business. It focuses on internal decision-making by providing accurate and timely data to management.

Unlike financial accounting, some of the information gathered in managerial accounting is not mandated by external stakeholders. Rather, it helps guide managers in planning, budgeting, forecasting, and other activities related to managing their organization's resources. You can also check about financial and managerial accounting online.

Management accounting also looks at various analytical tools, such as cost analysis and performance evaluation measures, that are critical to helping understand how an organization is performing. This valuable information can then be used to inform decisions around strategic initiatives or operations optimization.  Knowing about the difference between financial accounting and management accounting will help you in understanding the overall picture of any organization. 

Functions of Financial Accounting

Financial accounting contains several distinct functions, as listed below:

  1. Meet the Legal Requirements

    Complying with the legal mandates when constructing financial statements is critical, including adhering to Indian Accounting Standards (IND AS) and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The team responsible for preparing these documents must be aware of all applicable laws. Both financial and managerial accounting documents must also be in line with any relevant accounting regulations.

  2. Communicating the Transactions

    At the end of every fiscal year, it is imperative that financial reports and statements be delivered to each stakeholder in the company. These stakeholders include investors, creditors, lenders, and banking organizations. The results must be clearly communicated, so all parties involved understand their implications. Financial and managerial accounting are also a bit different.

  3. Analyzing Transactions

    Accurately assessing a company's financial activity requires a team to analyze each transaction as it occurs and verify its authenticity. Authentic transactions are recorded in order to evaluate profit or loss, with the data summarized in trial balance form and ultimately presented on a balance sheet. By taking this proactive approach toward accounting, fintech companies can understand their overall financial standing accurately. Both Financial and managerial accounting documents ensure that all stakeholders have the necessary information to effectively manage their investments.

    Difference between financial accounting and management accounting
    Find out How Financial Analysis Plays an Important Role for Businesses

  4. Systematic Record of Transactions

    With a profusion of transactions occurring at large corporations and major firms, it's impossible to keep track of them all. That's where financial accounting comes in handy - providing an orderly method for recording each transaction sequentially through journals, ledgers, and other books of accounts. When you see the difference between financial accounting and management accounting, you'll find that financial accounting is all about the systematic recording of transactions.

Functions of Management Accounting

Management Accounting encompasses a range of duties and responsibilities, some of which include:

  1. Forecasting Cash Flow

    Through management accounting, organizations can plan and calculate their cash flow in the future. This gives them great control over running the business and enables them to make independent decisions for its benefit. In addition, they are able to implement various strategies that will help improve their financial situation. Financial and managerial accounting are essential to ensure accurate predictions of the expected cash flow. By utilizing management accounting techniques, businesses have a greater chance of success through increased cash flow. You can check on the financial accounting vs management accounting to know the difference between the two. 

  2. Forecasting the Company’s Future

    With management accounting, organizations can confidently forecast the future and predict their standing in the ever-changing economic, technological, political, and social business climate. By staying abreast of these changes through predictions generated through this practice, firms will be able to adapt accordingly and remain competitive in the market. The difference between financial accounting and management accounting is that the former focuses on past and present data, while the latter focuses solely on predicting future outcomes.

  3. Analyses Return on Investments

    Management accounting assists businesses in understanding the value of their investments by gathering and analyzing data. With this information, they can accurately assess returns in terms of money, reputation growth, market share, and other metrics to maximize ROI. Ultimately, management accounting helps companies make informed decisions that will lead to success. The financial and managerial accounting information gathered is invaluable in decisions regarding investments, whether it be funds invested in technology, research and development, or marketing.

  4. Analyzing Variances in Performance

    Management accounting can help you identify and understand any discrepancies between initial expectations for your business' performance and its actual results. By pinpointing these variances, it is possible to implement corrective measures that will bring the estimated outcomes in line with what has been achieved.

  5. Outsourcing Decisions

    Management accounting serves as a critical resource when determining whether to invest in the creation of an environment, infrastructure, or personnel resources internally or through outsourcing. This invaluable knowledge can assist decision-makers with confidently resolving any barriers and reaching organizational goals efficiently.

Continue reading to learn about the difference between financial accounting and management accounting.

Key Difference Between Financial Accounting and Management Accounting

Here are the major differences between financial and managerial accounting:

Basis for Comparison

Financial Accounting

Management Accounting


Financial Accounting is a powerful tool that allows organizations to accurately publicize their finances and provide valuable insights into their operations. Management Accounting is a powerful tool that empowers managers to formulate profitable strategies and plans for business operations, providing relevant insights derived from the accounting system.


To create periodical reports To aid internal managers in the strategic planning and decision-making process, delivering substantial data on a variety of matters.


Historical Future

Nature of Statements Prepared

General-purpose financial statements Special purpose financial statements

Rules and Regulations 

GAAP rules are followed No fixed rules for the preparation of reports

Nature of Reports 

Financial  Financial and Non-financial

Format of the Financial Statements 

Specified  Not Specified 

Similarities Between Financial Accounting vs. Managerial Accounting

Once you’ve understood the difference between financial accounting and management accounting, it is also crucial to understand the similarities between financial and managerial accounting. Here is a table of similarities between the two:

Horizontal Analysis Employing horizontal analysis, accountants can comprehensively understand financial changes over an extended period - often two or more years. This kind of information is invaluable when making informed decisions for the future.
Vertical Analysis With vertical analysis, financial statements are broken down into their individual components, and each line item is expressed as a percentage of the base figure. When used to assess income statements, this technique denotes each data point as a fraction of total sales revenue.
Ratio Analysis  Ratio analysis offers a window into an organization's effectiveness, liquidity, and productivity. By calculating ratios like liquidity ratios, solvency ratios, efficiency ratios, and profitability ratios, this method can uncover noteworthy correlations within data sets.

Career in Financial or Managerial Accounting

For those interested in a career in financial or managerial accounting, there are plenty of courses, certifications, and degrees to pursue.

Check out Top 9 Functions of Financial Management: Roles & Responsibilities

Financial Accounting Managerial Accounting
Courses Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Certified Managerial Accountant (CMA)
Certifications Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)  Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)
Degrees Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance Master of Science in Management Accounting & Information Analysis (MSAIA)


Financial and managerial accounting are both essential tools for businesses to ensure their financial health and success. The key difference between financial accounting and management accounting is that financial accounting provides an overview of a company's overall performance, while managerial accounting focuses on providing internal information to managers in order to help make informed decisions regarding business operations. To pursue a career in either field, individuals should consider pursuing courses, certifications, and degrees related to these disciplines. With the right training, you'll be well-equipped with the skills necessary to build a successful financial and managerial accounting career!


Differentiate financial accounting and management accounting concerning objectives, rules, and regulations.

Financial accounting aims to provide an accurate financial summary of an organization’s operations, conforming to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Management accounting, on the other hand, is more flexible in its approach as it focuses on providing internal information to managers and decision-makers in order to help them make informed decisions regarding business operations

State a few key differences between financial accounting and management accounting

The key differences between financial accounting and management accounting include the target audience (financial accounting is focused on external stakeholders while management accounting focuses on internal stakeholders), the type of information provided (financial accounting provides a summary of an organization’s performance while managerial accounting provides detailed data to aid in decision-making), and the purpose of the reports (financial accounting is for reporting financial performance while managerial accounting is for optimizing internal operations).

Which is better, management accounting or financial accounting?

It depends on the individual needs of the business. For example, management accounting may be more beneficial if a company is looking to optimize its internal operations and make informed decisions based on detailed data. On the other hand, if a company wants to provide an accurate financial snapshot of its performance to external stakeholders, then financial accounting would be

What is the main purpose of financial accounting?

The main purpose of financial accounting is to provide an accurate summary of an organization’s financial performance to external stakeholders, conforming to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Financial statements are used by investors and creditors to assess a company's financial health and make informed decisions when providing capital or investing in a company.

What is a management account in accounting?

A management account is a type of financial report that provides detailed data to be used by internal stakeholders to inform decisions and optimize an organization's internal operations. Management accounts are not required to meet GAAP standards, as they are for internal use only. Examples of information contained in a management account include cash flow statements, budgets, break-even analyses, and profitability forecasts.

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