General Accounting

Financial Accounting vs. Managerial Accounting: What’s the Difference?

by Envoice
8 min read
Source: Pexels

Do you know the difference between financial accounting and managerial accounting? If not, don’t worry – you’re not alone! Many people don’t understand the distinction between these two types of accounting. Everybody knows who an accountant is, but not everyone knows what they do day-to-day or the different accounting types.

In a nutshell, financial accounting is primarily concerned with creating financial statements, while managerial accounting focuses on providing information to managers so they can make decisions about running the business.

To understand how they differ, let’s look at them in different categories.

  • Data

Financial accounting deals with records, classifications, and summaries of financial transactions. Financial statements are the primary output of the financial accounting process. The three most important financial statements are the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement.

On the other hand, managerial accounting provides managers with information for planning, decision-making, and controlling. This information is not restricted to financial data – it can also include data from non-financial areas such as production, marketing, and human resources.

  • Audience

The target audience for financial accounting statements is external stakeholders, such as creditors, investors, and tax authorities. Financial accounting is regulated by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). These financial statements are available for all interested in seeing them as public companies must file them with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Managerial accounting statements are primarily for internal use by managers. They are not subject to specific rules or regulations and are not regulated by GAAP. This means that managers have more flexibility regarding what information they include in their reports and how they present it.

  • Purpose

Financial accounting is to provide helpful information in making investment and credit decisions. It also includes valuable information for making decisions about allocating resources within a company.

The purpose of managerial accounting is to provide valuable information for managers in making decisions about running the business. This information can be used for short-term decision-making, such as deciding which product to make or how to price it. It can also be used for long-term strategic planning, such as determining which new products to develop or which markets to enter.

  • The details

Financial accounting is required by law in most jurisdictions. Companies must keep accurate records of their financial transactions and prepare financial statements as per accepted principles.

Generally, financial statements are concise and have a specific purpose. They are prepared regularly, usually quarterly or annually. An independent accountant typically audits financial statements.

Managerial accounting is not required by law but is helpful for company decision-making. You can easily customize managerial accounting reports to the specific needs of managers. They are often prepared as needed instead of on a regular schedule. Additionally, these reports are not audited by an independent accountant.

Person Holding financial statements
Source: Pexels
  • The Skills Set

Financial accountants and managerial accountants need to have a solid understanding of accounting principles and use software such as spreadsheets, databases, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

However, there are some differences in the skills required for each position. Financial accounting requires more analytical focus, while managerial accounting requires more strategic focus. Financial accountants are also typically responsible for compliance with financial reporting standards, while managerial accountants are not.

  • The Salaries

Financial accountants receive a slightly higher salary than managerial accountants. Small businesses always want to know their financial health, meaning there is always a demand for financial accounting knowledge. Managerial accountants are in charge of creating budget plans and ensuring the company sticks to them.

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Both are important, but at the moment, financial accountants are getting paid more.

  • The Future

Managerial accounting is expected to grow at a faster rate than financial accounting. Their role is increasing in importance as businesses become more complex and globalized.

Additionally, new technologies make it easier for managers to access and use information. As the world shifts to more data-driven decision-making, the demand for managerial accounting is expected to grow.

But that does not mean that financial accountants are in danger of becoming obsolete. Financial accounting is still a critical function within businesses. Companies will always need someone to keep track of their financial transactions and prepare financial statements.

What to look for in a financial accountant

Woman using a calculator with receipts and cash in front of her.
Source: Pexels

As a business owner, you need professionals who will drive your business forward. Here are key attributes to look for in a financial accountant:

  • A solid understanding of accounting principles

Accounting principles are the foundation of financial accounting. A solid understanding of these principles is essential for any financial accountant. Financial accounting is very precise, and a financial accountant who does not understand this will not be able to do their job correctly.

  • The ability to use software

In today’s business world, the ability to use software is essential. Financial accountants must be able to use spreadsheets, databases, and ERP software. Accounting software like Quickbooks and Zoho are also becoming increasingly popular, and financial accountants are now required to have extensive experience in the two.

Add-ons like Envoice, a smart capture AI compatible with accounting software, also go a long way in helping collect, store and fee financial data into accounting software. Getting a financial accountant who uses this AI will be a major boost for any business.

  • Compliance with reporting standards

Financial accountants are typically responsible for compliance with financial reporting standards. This means that they need to be up-to-date with all the latest changes in financial reporting standards.

The last thing you want is to be slapped with a hefty fine because your financial accountant did not comply with the latest reporting standards.

  • An analytical mind

A successful financial accountant can analyze data and find trends. This means that they need to be able to understand and interpret data. They should also be able to identify trends and relationships between different data sets.

They use this information to make recommendations to business owners on how to improve their financial situation.

  • Educational background

Much rests on the shoulders of a financial accountant. As such, they must have the right educational background. Financial accountants should have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.

A CPA designation is also highly regarded in the financial accounting world. Other critical tags include the CIA and ACCA.

A financial accountant who has the right educational background will be able to hit the ground running and add value to your business from day one.

If you hire a financial accountant who meets all these criteria, you will be well on your way to financial success.

What to look for in a managerial accountant

Professional woman being interviewed for a Managerial accounting job
Source: Pexels

In a business world that is becoming increasingly complex and globalized, the role of managers is becoming more important. As such, the demand for managerial accounting is expected to grow.

But what should you look for in a managerial accountant? Here are key attributes to consider;

  • The ability to think strategically

A successful managerial accountant can think strategically. They understand the big picture and can see how the different pieces of the puzzle fit together.

This ability is essential in today’s business world as businesses become more complex and globalized.

  • They must be tech-savvy

Businesses are using technology like never before. As such, managerial accountants must be tech-savvy. They should be able to use accounting software and other business applications.

They should also be comfortable using data analytics tools. These tools are becoming increasingly important as businesses look to make better decisions based on data.

  • Excellent communication skills

Managerial accountants must be excellent communicators. They need to be able to explain complex concepts in simple terms. They should also be able to present data in a way that is easy to understand.

This is important as they will often need to communicate with people from different departments and levels within the organization.

  • Team Player

There’s no denying that managerial accountants need to be individual contributors. But they also need to be team players. They should be able to work well with others and build relationships.

This is important as they will often need to collaborate with other departments.

For instance, if a managerial accountant needs to know why a specific department is not meeting its targets, he will need to be able to build a good relationship with that department.

  • Educational background

Managerial accountants should also have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.

Certified Management Accountant is an essential designation for managerial accountants. Other critical designations include Certified in Financial Management and Certified Public Accountant.

Managerial accountants who have these attributes will be an asset to any organization.

Parting shot

Both a financial and managerial accountant should have the appropriate educational background, be able to think strategically, use technology, communicate effectively, and work well with others. Now that you know the difference between the two, you can look for an accountant who meets your specific needs.


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