What is accounting?

Definition of Accounting
Accounting is the recording of financial transactions along with storing, sorting, retrieving, summarizing, and presenting the results in various reports and analyses. Accounting is also a field of study and profession dedicated to carrying out those tasks.

Examples of Financial Accounting
One part of accounting focuses on presenting the financial information in the form of general-purpose financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, etc.) that are distributed to people outside of the company. These external reports must be prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles often referred to as GAAP or US GAAP.

Examples of Management Accounting
Another part of accounting focuses on providing a company's management with the information needed to keep the business financially healthy. Although some of the information comes from recorded transactions, many of the analyses and reports include estimated and projected amounts based on various assumptions. Generally, this information is not distributed to people outside of the company's management. A few examples of this information are budgets, standards for controlling operations, and estimating selling prices when quoting prices for new work.

Other Examples of Accounting
Some of the many other examples of accounting include:

  • Advising on accounting systems
  • Income tax planning, advising, and reporting
  • Auditing the financial statements of companies and other organizations
  • Providing general business advice
  • Financial planning for individuals