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Accounting, also known as accountancy, is the processing of information about economic entities, such as businesses and corporations.Accounting measures the results of an organization's economic activities and conveys this information to a variety of stakeholders, including investors, creditors, management, and regulators. Practitioners of accounting are known as accountants. The terms "accounting" and "financial reporting" are often used as synonyms.
Accounting can be divided into several fields including financial accounting, management accounting, tax accounting and cost accounting.Financial accounting focuses on the reporting of an organization's financial information, including the preparation of financial statements, to the external users of the information, such as investors, regulators and suppliers. Management accounting focuses on the measurement, analysis and reporting of information for internal use by management. The recording of financial transactions, so that summaries of the financials may be presented in financial reports, is known as bookkeeping, of which double-entry bookkeeping is the most common system. Accounting information systems are designed to support accounting functions and related activities.
Accounting has existed in various forms and levels of sophistication throughout human history. The double-entry accounting system in use today was developed in medieval Europe, particularly in Venice, and is usually attributed to the Italian mathematician and Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli.Today, accounting is facilitated by accounting organizations such as standard-setters, accounting firms and professional bodies. Financial statements are usually audited by accounting firms, and are prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). GAAP is set by various standard-setting organizations such as the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in the United States and the Financial Reporting Council in the United Kingdom. As of 2012, "all major economies" have plans to converge towards or adopt the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
Accounting is thousands of years old and can be traced to ancient civilizations.One early development of accounting dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, and is closely related to developments in writing, counting and money; there is also evidence of early forms of bookkeeping in ancient Iran, and early auditing systems by the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. By the time of Emperor Augustus, the Roman government had access to detailed financial information.
Double-entry bookkeeping was pioneered in the Jewish community of the early-medieval Middle Eastand was further refined in medieval Europe. With the development of joint-stock companies, accounting split into financial accounting and management accounting.
The first published work on a double-entry bookkeeping system was the Summa de arithmetica , published in Italy in 1494 by Luca Pacioli (the "Father of Accounting").Accounting began to transition into an organized profession in the nineteenth century, with local professional bodies in England merging to form the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in 1880.
Both the words accounting and accountancy were in use in Great Britain by the mid-1800s, and are derived from the words accompting and accountantship used in the 18th century.In Middle English (used roughly between the 12th and the late 15th century) the verb "to account" had the form accounten, which was derived from the Old French word aconter, which is in turn related to the Vulgar Latin word computare, meaning "to reckon". The base of computare is putare, which "variously meant to prune, to purify, to correct an account, hence, to count or calculate, as well as to think".
The word "accountant" is derived from the French word compter, which is also derived from the Italian and Latin word computare. The word was formerly written in English as "accomptant", but in process of time the word, which was always pronounced by dropping the "p", became gradually changed both in pronunciation and in orthography to its present form.
Accounting has variously been defined as the keeping or preparation of the financial records of transactions of the firm, the analysis, verification and reporting of such records and "the principles and procedures of accounting"; it also refers to the job of being an accountant.
Accountancy refers to the occupation or profession of an accountant,particularly in British English.
Accounting has several subfields or subject areas, including financial accounting, management accounting, auditing, taxation and accounting information systems.
Financial accounting focuses on the reporting of an organization's financial information to external users of the information, such as investors, potential investors and creditors. It calculates and records business transactions and prepares financial statements for the external users in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).GAAP, in turn, arises from the wide agreement between accounting theory and practice, and change over time to meet the needs of decision-makers.
Financial accounting produces past-oriented reports—for example financial statements are often published six to ten months after the end of the accounting period—on an annual or quarterly basis, generally about the organization as a whole.
Management accounting focuses on the measurement, analysis and reporting of information that can help managers in making decisions to fulfill the goals of an organization. In management accounting, internal measures and reports are based on cost-benefit analysis, and are not required to follow the generally accepted accounting principle (GAAP).In 2014 CIMA created the Global Management Accounting Principles (GMAPs). The result of research from across 20 countries in five continents, the principles aim to guide best practice in the discipline.
Management accounting produces past-oriented reports with time spans that vary widely, but it also encompasses future-oriented reports such as budgets. Management accounting reports often include financial and non financial information, and may, for example, focus on specific products and departments.
Auditing is the verification of assertions made by others regarding a payoff,and in the context of accounting it is the "unbiased examination and evaluation of the financial statements of an organization". Audit is a professional service that is systematic and conventional.
An audit of financial statements aims to express or disclaim an independent opinion on the financial statements. The auditor expresses an independent opinion on the fairness with which the financial statements presents the financial position, results of operations, and cash flows of an entity, in accordance with the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and "in all material respects". An auditor is also required to identify circumstances in which the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) have not been consistently observed.
An accounting information system is a part of an organization's information system used for processing accounting data.Many corporations use artificial intelligence-based information systems. The banking and finance industry uses AI in fraud detection. The retail industry uses AI for customer services. AI is also used in the cybersecurity industry. It involves computer hardware and software systems using statistics and modeling.
Many accounting practices have been simplified with the help of accounting computer-based software. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is commonly used for a large organisation and it provides a comprehensive, centralized, integrated source of information that companies can use to manage all major business processes, from purchasing to manufacturing to human resources. These systems can be cloud based and available on demand via application or browser, or available as software installed on specific computers or local servers, often referred to as on-premise.
Tax accounting in the United States concentrates on the preparation, analysis and presentation of tax payments and tax returns. The U.S. tax system requires the use of specialised accounting principles for tax purposes which can differ from the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for financial reporting.U.S. tax law covers four basic forms of business ownership: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company. Corporate and personal income are taxed at different rates, both varying according to income levels and including varying marginal rates (taxed on each additional dollar of income) and average rates (set as a percentage of overall income).
Forensic accounting is a specialty practice area of accounting that describes engagements that result from actual or anticipated disputes or litigation."Forensic" means "suitable for use in a court of law", and it is to that standard and potential outcome that forensic accountants generally have to work.
Political campaign accounting deals with the development and implementation of financial systems and the accounting of financial transactions in compliance with laws governing political campaign operations. This branch of accounting was first formally introduced in the March 1976 issue of The Journal of Accountancy.
Professional accounting bodies include the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the other 179 members of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC),including Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP), CPA Australia, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). Some countries have a single professional accounting body and, in some other countries, professional bodies for subfields of the accounting professions also exist, for example the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) in the UK and Institute of management accountants in the United States. Many of these professional bodies offer education and training including qualification and administration for various accounting designations, such as certified public accountant (AICPA) and chartered accountant.
Depending on its size, a company may be legally required to have their financial statements audited by a qualified auditor, and audits are usually carried out by accounting firms.
Accounting firms grew in the United States and Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and through several mergers there were large international accounting firms by the mid-twentieth century. Further large mergers in the late twentieth century led to the dominance of the auditing market by the "Big Five" accounting firms: Arthur Andersen, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers.The demise of Arthur Andersen following the Enron scandal reduced the Big Five to the Big Four.
Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are accounting standards issued by national regulatory bodies. In addition, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) issues the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) implemented by 147 countries.Standards for international audit and assurance, ethics, education, and public sector accounting are all set by independent standard settings boards supported by IFAC. The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board sets international standards for auditing, assurance, and quality control; the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) sets the internationally appropriate principles-based Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants; the International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB) sets professional accounting education standards; and International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) sets accrual-based international public sector accounting standards.
Organizations in individual countries may issue accounting standards unique to the countries. For example, in Australia, the Australian Accounting Standards Board manages the issuance of the accounting standards in line with IFRS. In the United States the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issues the Statements of Financial Accounting Standards, which form the basis of US GAAP,and in the United Kingdom the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) sets accounting standards. However, as of 2012 "all major economies" have plans to converge towards or adopt the IFRS.
At least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field is required for most accountant and auditor job positions, and some employers prefer applicants with a master's degree.A degree in accounting may also be required for, or may be used to fulfill the requirements for, membership to professional accounting bodies. For example, the education during an accounting degree can be used to fulfill the American Institute of CPA's (AICPA) 150 semester hour requirement, and associate membership with the Certified Public Accountants Association of the UK is available after gaining a degree in finance or accounting.
A doctorate is required in order to pursue a career in accounting academia, for example, to work as a university professor in accounting.The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) are the most popular degrees. The PhD is the most common degree for those wishing to pursue a career in academia, while DBA programs generally focus on equipping business executives for business or public careers requiring research skills and qualifications.
Professional accounting qualifications include the chartered accountant designations and other qualifications including certificates and diplomas.In Scotland, chartered accountants of ICAS undergo Continuous Professional Development and abide by the ICAS code of ethics. In England and Wales, chartered accountants of the ICAEW undergo annual training, and are bound by the ICAEW's code of ethics and subject to its disciplinary procedures.
In the United States, the requirements for joining the AICPA as a Certified Public Accountant are set by the Board of Accountancy of each state, and members agree to abide by the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct and Bylaws.
The ACCA is the largest global accountancy body with over 320,000 members, and the organisation provides an 'IFRS stream' and a 'UK stream'. Students must pass a total of 14 exams, which are arranged across three levels.
Accounting research is research in the effects of economic events on the process of accounting, the effects of reported information on economic events, and the roles of accounting in organizations and society.It encompasses a broad range of research areas including financial accounting, management accounting, auditing and taxation.
Accounting research is carried out both by academic researchers and practicing accountants. Methodologies in academic accounting research include archival research, which examines "objective data collected from repositories"; experimental research, which examines data "the researcher gathered by administering treatments to subjects"; analytical research, which is "based on the act of formally modeling theories or substantiating ideas in mathematical terms"; interpretive research, which emphasizes the role of language, interpretation and understanding in accounting practice, "highlighting the symbolic structures and taken-for-granted themes which pattern the world in distinct ways"; critical research, which emphasizes the role of power and conflict in accounting practice; case studies; computer simulation; and field research.
Empirical studies document that leading accounting journals publish in total fewer research articles than comparable journals in economics and other business disciplines,and consequently, accounting scholars are relatively less successful in academic publishing than their business school peers. Due to different publication rates between accounting and other business disciplines, a recent study based on academic author rankings concludes that the competitive value of a single publication in a top-ranked journal is highest in accounting and lowest in marketing.
The year 2001 witnessed a series of financial information frauds involving Enron, auditing firm Arthur Andersen, the telecommunications company WorldCom, Qwest and Sunbeam, among other well-known corporations. These problems highlighted the need to review the effectiveness of accounting standards, auditing regulations and corporate governance principles. In some cases, management manipulated the figures shown in financial reports to indicate a better economic performance. In others, tax and regulatory incentives encouraged over-leveraging of companies and decisions to bear extraordinary and unjustified risk.
The Enron scandal deeply influenced the development of new regulations to improve the reliability of financial reporting, and increased public awareness about the importance of having accounting standards that show the financial reality of companies and the objectivity and independence of auditing firms.
In addition to being the largest bankruptcy reorganization in American history, the Enron scandal undoubtedly is the biggest audit failurecausing the dissolution of Arthur Andersen, which at the time was one of the five largest accounting firms in the world. After a series of revelations involving irregular accounting procedures conducted throughout the 1990s, Enron filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2001.
One consequence of these events was the passage of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act in the United States in 2002, as a result of the first admissions of fraudulent behavior made by Enron. The act significantly raises criminal penalties for securities fraud, for destroying, altering or fabricating records in federal investigations or any scheme or attempt to defraud shareholders.
Accounting fraud is an intentional misstatement or omission in the accounting records by management or employees which involves the use of deception. It is a criminal act and a breach of civil tort. It may involve collusion with third parties.
An accounting error is an unintentional misstatement or omission in the accounting records, for example misinterpretation of facts, mistakes in processing data, or oversights leading to incorrect estimates.Acts leading to accounting errors are not criminal but may breach civil law, for example, the tort of negligence.
The primary responsibility for the prevention and detection of fraud and errors rests with the entity's management.
In management accounting or managerial accounting, managers use accounting information in decision-making and to assist in the management and performance of their control functions.
An accountant is a practitioner of accounting or accountancy. Accountants who have demonstrated competency through their professional associations' certification exams are certified to use titles such as Chartered Accountant, Chartered Certified Accountant or Certified Public Accountant, or Registered Public Accountant. Such professionals are granted certain responsibilities by statute, such as the ability to certify an organization's financial statements, and may be held liable for professional misconduct. Non-qualified accountants may be employed by a qualified accountant, or may work independently without statutory privileges and obligations.
International Financial Reporting Standards, commonly called IFRS, are accounting standards issued by the IFRS Foundation and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). They constitute a standardised way of describing the company's financial performance and position so that company financial statements are understandable and comparable across international boundaries. They are particularly relevant for companies with shares or securities publicly listed.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the national professional organization of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the United States, with more than 428,000 members in 130 countries. Founded in 1887 as the American Association of Public Accountants (AAPA), the organization sets ethical standards and U.S. auditing standards. It also develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination. The AICPA maintains offices in New York City; Washington, DC; Durham, NC; and Ewing, NJ.
The International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC) was founded in June 1973 in London at the initiative of Sir Henry Benson, former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. The IASC was created by national accountancy bodies from a number of countries with a view to harmonizing the international diversity of company reporting practices. Between its founding in 1973 and its dissolution in 2001, it developed a set of International Accounting Standards (IAS) that gradually acquired a degree of acceptance in countries around the world. Although the IASC came to include some organizations representing preparers and users of financial statements, it largely remained an initiative of the accountancy profession. On 1 April 2001, it was replaced by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), an independent standard-setting body. The IASB adopted the extant corpus of IAS which it continued to develop as International Financial Reporting Standards.
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles is the accounting standard adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is the default accounting standard used by companies based in the United States.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the title of qualified accountants in numerous countries in the English-speaking world. It is generally equivalent to the title of chartered accountant in other English-speaking countries. In the United States, the CPA is a license to provide accounting services to the public. It is awarded by each of the 50 states for practice in that state. Additionally, all states except Hawaii have passed mobility laws to allow CPAs from other states to practice in their state. State licensing requirements vary, but the minimum standard requirements include passing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, 150 semester units of college education, and one year of accounting-related experience.
Founded in 1904, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants(ACCA) is the global professional accounting body offering the Chartered Certified Accountant qualification (ACCA). It has 240,952 members and 541,930 future members worldwide. ACCA's headquarters are in London with principal administrative office in Glasgow. ACCA works through a network of over 110 offices and centres in 51 countries - with 346 Approved Learning Partners (ALP) and more than 7,600 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide employee development.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is India's largest professional accounting body under the administrative control of Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. It was established on 1 July 1949 as a statutory body under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 enacted by the Parliament for promotion, development and regulation of the profession of Chartered Accountancy in India.
Materiality is a concept or convention within auditing and accounting relating to the importance/significance of an amount, transaction, or discrepancy. The objective of an audit of financial statements is to enable the auditor to express an opinion on whether the financial statements are prepared, in all material respects, in conformity with an identified financial reporting framework, such as the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) which is the accounting standard adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) was the operating name for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand. The Institute represented over 33,000 members in New Zealand and overseas. Most accountants in New Zealand belonged to the institute.
British qualified accountants are full voting members of United Kingdom professional bodies that evaluate individual experience and test competencies for accountants.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB) is the national professional accountancy body and research institute in Bangladesh. It is the sole organisation in Bangladesh with the right to award the Associate Chartered Accountant designation. It has 2,005 members.
Accountancy in Hong Kong is regulated by the HKICPA under the Professional Accountants Ordinance. The auditing industry for limited companies is regulated under the Companies Ordinance, and other Ordinances such as the Securities and Futures Ordinance, the Listing Rules, etc.
Accounting ethics is primarily a field of applied ethics and is part of business ethics and human ethics, the study of moral values and judgments as they apply to accountancy. It is an example of professional ethics. Accounting was introduced by Luca Pacioli, and later expanded by government groups, professional organizations, and independent companies. Ethics are taught in accounting courses at higher education institutions as well as by companies training accountants and auditors.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to accounting:
The accountancy profession in Malaysia is regulated by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) through the powers conferred by the Accountants Act, 1967. The MIA is an agency under the Ministry of Finance and reports directly to the Accountant General Office. As at 4 February 2016, MIA has 32,618 members of which 68% are involved in commerce and industry, 22% in public practice and 10% in government and academia. Selangor and the Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory have the largest concentration of MIA membership with 13,125 and 7,351 members respectively. https://web.archive.org/web/20150725035639/http://www.mia.org.my/new/members_statistics_state.asp
The convergence of accounting standards refers to the goal of establishing a single set of accounting standards that will be used internationally. Convergence in some form has been taking place for several decades, and efforts today include projects that aim to reduce the differences between accounting standards.
Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada is the national organization representing the Canadian accounting profession through the unification of the three largest accounting organizations: the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA), the Society of Management Accountants of Canada and Certified General Accountants of Canada (CGA-Canada), as well as the 40 national and provincial accounting bodies. It is one of the largest organizations of its type in the world, with over 217,000 Chartered Professional Accountants in Canada and around the world.