Accounting can be classified in various ways. This includes Accounting as an information system, Accounting as a Profession, Public Accounting, Private Accounting, Government Accounting, Financial Accounting, Cost Accounting, and Management Accounting.
Branches of Accounting
Financial Accounting is prepared to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of an organization in terms of Profit and Loss of the business. Cost Accounting is concerned with the ascertainment of the cost of a product or service.
Management Accounting is concerned with the provision of data that will aid management in making decisions. Some authorities further classify accounting to include Auditing, Tax Accounting, Financial Management, and Consulting Services.
Let us briefly look at the first three classifications.
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Accounting As An Information Processing System
Accounting is a means of social communication and involves a flow of information. Accounting uses words and symbols to communicate financial information to managers, investors, decision makers and so on.
Accounting As A Profession
Over the years, accounting has developed as a profession attaining a status equitable to the practice of law and medicine. However, an accountant who wants to practice as an auditor needs to obtain a license. Accountants generally work in one of three areas:
- Public Accounting
- Private Accounting
- Government Accounting
Public Accountants are engaged in offering professional services to the public. The area of specialization available to public Accountants are:
- Tax Services
- Management advisory services
An Accountant that works for an organization or company and earns a salary from such a company is said to be engaged in private Accounting. Generally, accountants in this category perform Accounting services which include recording, classifying and preparing reports for users, handling of tax matters; auditing and budgeting.
Accountants in the employment of government deal with the recording of government financial transactions, preparing summaries of financial transactions, and preparation of budgets. They also prepare income and expenditure accounts and other financial reports of the government for a given period. Those employed in government services and perform accounting functions are said to be in Government accounting. An example of such officers is the Accountant-General of the Federation.
Financial Accounting is the practice and body of knowledge concerned primarily with methods of recording transactions, keeping financial records, performing internal audits, reporting and analyzing financial information to management, and advising on taxation matters. It is a systematic process of identifying, recording, measuring, classifying, verifying, summarizing, interpreting and communicating financial information. Read on Capital and Revenue Expenditure.
Cost Accounting as one of the Accounting branches is a system put in place by the management to generate the amount incurred in the production of goods and services so as to determine the cost of production and profit generated in the organization.
Profit in an organization is determined by the relationship between revenue and cost. If revenue is constant, then cost must be minimized or controlled before profit can be maximized.
Management Accounting as listed above is one of the Accounting branches. Here, managers use the provisions of accounting information in order to better inform themselves before they decide matters within their organizations, which aids their management and performance of control functions.