Guide to Learning Accounting, including Free Tutorials • Discoverology
31 items | 183m read

Ultimate Learning Guide To Financial Accounting

6m read | Introduction
Ultimate Learning Guide To Financial Accounting

The process of recording and summarizing financial information is called accounting. It is a detailed and systematic logging of financial transactions related to your business. Accounting is also called the procedure of analyzing, summarizing, and then reporting the transactions to the regulators, tax department, and other agencies.

Financial statements help in summarizing hundreds and thousands of financial transactions of a company’s operations, cash flows, and the financial position over a certain time. It is one of the key functions for almost any business, and no business can do without it. Usually, a bookkeeper or an accountant handles all the accounting matters.

There are multiple branches of accounting via which different reports are generated for a business. A couple of examples would be management accounting and cost accounting. These streams assist a company in making calculated business decisions.

Basic accounting matters are normally a bookkeeper’s job, and the advanced accounting issues are handled by qualified accountants who are Chartered Accountants (CA), Certified Public Accountants (CPA) in the US or Certified Management Accountants CMA in Canada.

The Components of Accounting

There are two main components of accounting:

— Financial Accounting (Book-keeping)

— Management Accounting (Analysis)

Financial Accounting is also known as book-keeping. It involves summarized recordings of financial information. Transactions regarding expenses, purchases and sales are recorded under financial accounting, in a summarized form. These are then presented in the form of financial statements that give you an insight into the overall financial health and working of a business.

Another aspect of financial accounting is organizing the financial data that assists business owners with effective management of their business by acquiring key information like:

— The amount customers have to pay to the business

— The amount of capital owners have invested in the business

— How much does the business owe banks, employees, tax authorities, suppliers, and others?

— Is the business profitable?

To sum up, book-keeping is the backbone of an accounting system and lays the foundation of analysis in management accounting.

Managerial accounting and management accounting is the same thing. This form of accounting gives information to businesses and their management for analysis, decision-making, control, and planning of business matters such as budgeting, performance measurement and information relating to investment decisions. 

Here is what accounting entails

Generate Financial Statements

Financial statements that summarize the cash flows, financial position, and operations of a large organization, for a particular period, are concise and are created based on thousands of financial transactions. Therefore, all accounting designations are a result of years of rigorous examinations and study coupled with some years of practical accounting experience.

Using GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles)

Accountants use generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in most cases while creating financial statements. It is a set of standards regarding balance sheet identification, outstanding share measurements along with other accounting issues. The GAAP standards rely on double-entry accounting in which each expense is entered in two places on the balance sheet.

Double Entry Accounting 

For a better understanding of the double-entry system, take the example of a business which issues an invoice to its client. Using the double-entry method, the accountant enters a debit under the column of accounts receivable on the balance sheet and then credits it under the revenue column of the income statement.

When the client pays, the amount is credited in the accounts receivables and the cash is debited. Another name for double-entry accounting is called balancing the books because all books are balanced against each other. If the entries fail to match, then the accountant would know that there is some miscalculation or discrepancy in the ledger. 

Financial Accounting vs. Management Accounting

The procedures which accountants use to generate annual accounting statements of a firm fall under financial accounting whereas, management accounting uses almost the same processes but uses the information in a variety of ways. An accountant creates monthly or quarterly reports in management accounting, which the management team can use to make decisions about how the business operates and should operate in the future.

Financial Accounting vs. Cost Accounting

Similar to management accounting that helps businesses in making decisions about management, cost accounting assists businesses in making cost-related decisions. Cost accounting takes into account all costs regarding the production of a product. Everyone from analysts, business owners to managers and accountants use this information to determine the cost of their product.

Under cost accounting, money is the economic factor in production. On the other hand, financial accounting is the measure of a company’s economic performance.

Significance of Accounting

Legal Obligations

Accounting helps organizations in determining their financial obligations and rights. A business can’t calculate, say, the exact amount that business should pay to the supplier for the cost of purchase, sales tax, discounts, withholding tax, refunds, and duties, etc. Business needs accounting to fulfill their legal obligations and in asserting their legal rights. And businesses over a certain size are required to prepare financial statements and maintain accounting records to fulfill legal responsibility.

Record Financial Information 

Organizations need to have a systematic and reliable way of recording financial information. Accounting is crucial to ensure that business owners have a reliable record of their financial transactions.

Overview of Business Performance 

Accounting information is summarized for use in financial statements. They provide an overview of the business’ financial activities during a certain period along with information regarding the financial position at a specific date (such as the end of the year).

Owners take help from these financial statements in assessing the position and performance of their business that could help them in making the right investment decisions like whether they should invest, dispose, or diversify their funds.

Help with Planning and Control

Organizations are in a better position to develop budgets and forecasts through accounting. Take the example of variance analysis, which offers a system to the business for monitoring the organizational expenses by comparing them with the budgeted expenditure. Organizations can plan their finances ahead and in controlling any deviations from the budget. Accounting helps with managerial decisions.

To sum up, accounting is a reliable process of recording, organizing, and analysis of financial information that allows a business to effectively manage their operations.

About This Financial Accounting Guide

This guide offers the most insightful articles, educational videos, expert insights, specialist tips and best free tutorials about financial accounting from around the internet. The learning guide is split into four levels: introduction, basics, advanced and expert. You can learn at your own pace. Each item shows an estimated reading or watching time, allowing you to easily plan when you want to read or watch each item. Below you’ll find a table of contents that enables you to easily find a specific topic you might be interested in.

11 items | 48m read
4m read | Basics

What is Accounting?

Accounting is the process of recording financial transactions pertaining to a business. The accounting process includes summarizing, analyzing, and reporting these transactions to oversight agencies, regulators, and tax collection entities. The financial statements used in accounting are a concise summary of financial transactions over an accounting period, summarizing a company’s operations, financial position, and cash flows.
4m read | Basics

Introduction to Accounting

Book-keeping, which is also known as financial accounting, is the process of recording and summarizing financial information. Book-keeping involves the recording of transactions (e.g. sales, purchases, and expenses) which are then summarized and presented in the form of financial statements which show the overall health of the business.
3m read | Basics

The History of Accounting

Some of the earliest known writings discovered by archaeologists are accounts of ancient tax records on clay tablets from Egypt and Mesopotamia dating back as early as 3300 to 2000 BCE. Historians hypothesize that the primary reason for the development of writing systems came out of a need to record trade and business transactions.
3m read | Basics

Types of Accounting

There are several types of accounting that range from auditing to the preparation of tax returns. Accountants tend to specialize in one of these fields, which leads to different career tracks.
6m read | Basics

Core Objectives of Accounting

Objectives of accounting in any business are; systematically record transactions, sort and analyzing them, prepare financial statements, assessing the financial position, and aid in decision making with financial data and information about the business. The main object of Accounting is to ascertain the results of the financial transactions of a business concern.
4m read | Basics

Users of Accounting Information

The accounting process provides financial data for a broad range of individuals whose objectives in studying the data vary widely.   Three primary users of accounting information were previously identified, Internal users, External users, and Government/ IRS. Each group uses accounting information differently and requires the information to be presented differently.
3m read | Basics

The Difference Between Financial and Managerial Accounting

A common question is to explain the differences between financial accounting and managerial accounting, since each one involves a distinctly different career path. In general, financial accounting refers to the aggregation of accounting information into financial statements, while managerial accounting refers to the internal processes used to account for business transactions.
6m read | Basics

What is Cost Accounting?

Cost accounting comes down to two words – “cost” and “accounting”. First, let’s understand what “cost” is. Then we will look at “accounting”. Cost is an expense incurred by a particular unit. In another way, the cost is what the business sacrifices in order to produce one unit of product. Accounting is the art and science of recording, classifying, summarizing, and analyzing inputs to make a sense of the information related to financial, management, or cost.
8m read | Basics

Most Important Basic Accounting Principles

The more you understand about the purpose of generally accepted accounting principles, the more you’ll know why (and how) these principles of accountancy help protect business owners, consumers, and investors from fraud. They also guarantee a measure of consistency in the accounting reports among all businesses. In order to work in harmony with their accountants, small business owners need to at least know the spirit of these rules.
3m read | Basics

What is GAAP?

GAAP is short for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. GAAP is a cluster of accounting standards and common industry usage that have been developed over many years. One of the reasons for using GAAP is so that anyone reading the financial statements of multiple companies has a reasonable basis for comparison, since all companies using GAAP have created their financial statements using the same set of rules.
4m read | Basics

The Ten Generally Accepted Accounting Principles

The evolution of these accounting standards has taken more than half-a-century and changes are being made even today. Along the way the governing boards have changed as well and in the current era, it is the Financial Accounts Standards Board or FASB that decide the rules of accounting. But the SEC still continues to have enforcement powers.

Here are ten basic principles that make up these standards.
11 items | 79m read
5m read | Advanced

Types of Financial Statements

Financial statements are a mirror that shows a true and fair view of the financial performance of the last financial year and overall financial position at the end of the financial year. These are prepared by all those organizations who have financial transactions whether they are for-profit or not for profit organizations. The forms could be different. Financial statements are a crucial part of any annual report of a company.
8m read | Advanced

Beginners' Guide to Financial Statement

Although this brochure discusses each financial statement separately, keep in mind that they are all related. The changes in assets and liabilities that you see on the balance sheet are also reflected in the revenues and expenses that you see on the income statement, which result in the company’s gains or losses. Cash flows provide more information about cash assets listed on a balance sheet and are related, but not equivalent, to net income shown on the income statement. And so on. No one financial statement tells the complete story. But combined, they provide very powerful information for investors.
10m read | Advanced

Financial Statements Examples: Amazon Case Study

Analyzing financial statements can help an analyst assess the profitability and liquidity of a company. Financial statements are complex. It is best to become familiar with them by looking at financial statements examples. In this article, we will take a look at some financial statements examples from, Inc. for a more in-depth look at the accounts and line items presented on financial statements.
5m read | Advanced

Statement of Financial Position

The statement of financial position, often called the balance sheet, is a financial statement that reports the assets, liabilities, and equity of a company on a given date. In other words, it lists the resources, obligations, and ownership details of a company on a specific day. You can think of this like a snapshot of what the company looked like at a certain time in history.
7m read | Advanced

What is the Balance Sheet?

The balance sheet is one of the three fundamental financial statements and is key to both financial modeling and accounting. The balance sheet displays the company’s total assets, and how these assets are financed, through either debt or equity. It can also be referred to as a statement of net worth, or a statement of financial position. The balance sheet is based on the fundamental equation: Assets = Liabilities + Equity.
8m read | Advanced

What is the Income Statement?

The Income Statement is one of a company’s core financial statements that shows their profit and loss over a period of time. The profit or loss is determined by taking all revenues and subtracting all expenses from both operating and non-operating activities.
7m read | Advanced

Understanding the Cash Flow Statement

The statement of cash flows, or the cash flow statement, is a financial statement that summarizes the amount of cash and cash equivalents entering and leaving a company. The cash flow statement (CFS) measures how well a company manages its cash position, meaning how well the company generates cash to pay its debt obligations and fund its operating expenses.
9m read | Advanced

How to Prepare a Cash Flow Statement

Performing a cash flow analysis allows you to track changes in your business’s cash balance during a specific period by calculating cash inflow versus cash expenditures. This process will help you to identify patterns, not only around how much money is coming in and going out of your business, but also for what and when—enabling you to plan ahead and avoid being short of cash when bills and payroll are due.
7m read | Advanced

Statement of Changes in Equity

Statement of changes in equity helps users of financial statement to identify the factors that cause a change in the owners’ equity over the accounting periods. Whereas movement in shareholder reserves can be observed from the balance sheet, statement of changes in equity discloses significant information about equity reserves that is not presented separately elsewhere in the financial statements which may be useful in understanding the nature of change in equity reserves.
5m read | Advanced

Relationship Between Financial Statements

The four main financial statements are used to show different aspects of a business. It is important to understand the relationship between financial statements as this allows a full understanding of the financial performance of the business when analyzing financial statements.
10m read | Advanced

Financial Statements 101

Financial statements are like the financial dashboard of your business. They tell you where your money is going, where it’s coming from, and how much you’ve got to work with. They’re super helpful for making smart business moves. And they’re 100% necessary if you want to get a loan or bring on investors.

If you’re looking for a good intro to financial statements, read on. We’ll go over the basics of each financial statement, and how to read (and use) them—so your business runs like a well-oiled machine.
8 items | 50m read
4m read | Expert

The Purpose of Financial Statements

The general purpose of the financial statements is to provide information about the results of operations, financial position, and cash flows of an organization. This information is used by the readers of financial statements to make decisions regarding the allocation of resources. At a more refined level, there is a different purpose associated with each of the financial statements.
4m read | Expert

Limitations of Accounting & Financial Reporting

Accountancy assists users of financial statements to make better financial decisions. It is important however to realize the limitations of accounting and financial reporting when forming those decisions.
6m read | Expert

Bookkeeping Best Practices for Achieving Business Success

There are countless pieces of advice accounting and bookkeeping service providers can give to owners of small and medium-sized businesses. Most bookkeeping consultants will agree that to achieve success, every business (no matter its size) should adhere to the following bookkeeping best practices.
6m read | Expert

Principles of Management Accounting

Accounting information, records, reports, statements and other evidence of past, present or future results should be designed and compiled to meet the needs of the particular business and/or specific problem. It means that management accounting system is designed in such a way presenting the relevant data. If so, a particular problem is to be solved. Moreover, accounting information can be modified and adopted to meet the requirements of management.
4m read | Expert

Management Accounting Best Practices

Management accounting is a specialized type of accounting in which accounting firms focus on the requirements and use of accounting information to managers within companies. This information helps to provide managers with data and advice that allows them to make informed business decisions, while also improving management and control functions.
16m read | Expert

How to Read Financial Statements Like a Pro

Numbers tell the story of a business. Reading a company’s three financial statements – its income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement can tell us how a company has performed in the past, its current financial health and its prospects for the future. It’s a valuable skill for budding investors, analysts and entrepreneurs. In this article, we’ll discuss what each of the three financial statements tell us about our case study company, a coffee shop called London Coffee Co.
10m read | Expert

Further Reading: Best Books To Learn Accounting

The Basics of Understanding Financial Statements: Learn How to Read Financial Statements by Understanding the Balance Sheet, the Income Statement, and the Cash Flow Statement. The purpose of this book is to help readers understand the basics of understanding financial statements. Material covered includes a step-by-step instruction on how to read and understand the balance sheet, the income statement, and the cash flow statement.

Accounting Made Simple: Accounting Explained in 100 Pages or Less. Find all of the following explained in Plain-English with no technical jargon: Accounting Equation and why it’s so significant, How to read and prepare financial statements, How to calculate and interpret several different financial ratios and much more.

Barron’s Accounting Handbook. The newly updated edition of this authoritative reference volume deserves a place in the library of every accountant, bookkeeper, accounting manager, CPA, CFO, controller, business manager, and business student.

Financial Shenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks & Fraud in Financial Reports. With major financial scandals popping up in greater numbers―and with more inevitably on the way―it has never been more important for you to understand what dishonest companies do to trick investors. Since the early 1990s, Financial Shenanigans has been helping investors unearth deceptive financial reporting at the most critical time― before they suffer major losses.

Warren Buffett Accounting Book: Reading Financial Statements for Value Investing. This book teaches: 1. Two methods for calculating the intrinsic value of a company 2. What is a discount rate and how does it work 3. Detailed instructions on how to read an income statement, Balance sheet, and cash flow statement 4. How to calculate important ratios to properly value any business.

10m read | Expert

Further Learning: Best Accounting Courses

Introduction to Financial Accounting. Master the technical skills needed to analyze financial statements and disclosures for use in financial analysis, and learn how accounting standards and managerial incentives affect the financial reporting process. By the end of this course, you’ll be able to read the three most common financial statements: the income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows.

Financial Management. You will learn to evaluate major strategic corporate and investment decisions and to understand capital markets and institutions from a financial perspective, and you will develop an integrated framework for value-based financial management and individual financial decision-making.

Introduction to Finance, Accounting, Modeling and Valuation. After taking this course you will understand how to create, analyze and forecast an income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. By the end of his course you will also know how to value companies using several different valuation methodologies that I have used during my Wall Street career so you can come up with target prices for the companies that you are analyzing.

Accounting Analytics explores how financial statement data and non-financial metrics can be linked to financial performance.  In this course, taught by Wharton’s acclaimed accounting professors, you’ll learn how data is used to assess what drives financial performance and to forecast future financial scenarios.

Advanced Financial Reporting: Accounting for Business Combinations and Preparation of Consolidated Financial Statements. This course covers the accounting for business combinations (ASC 805), the preparation of consolidated financial statements (ASC 810), and other related topics including, but not limited to: step-by-step acquisition, deconsolidation, segments reporting, and the goodwill impairment test.

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