Accounting is a methodology by which a company or financial entity measures, discloses, or provides assurance about the financial information of a company that may be used to act as an aid to managers, investors, tax authorities and other decision makers to reach decisions regarding resource allocation. Financial accounting is a branch of accounting that throughout history has required processes to record, classify, summarize as well as interpret and communicate all financial information concerning the business. In other words one can think of accounting as being the “language of business” and accounting forms as the medium upon with that language is communicated.
The heart of accounting is the measurement of financial transactions that are meant to transfer the legal property rights that are performed through contractual relationships. Accounting specifically excludes non-financial transactions because of the need for conservatism as well as principles of materiality. Persons that practice accounting are known as accountants and it is necessary to have a number of different professional bodies that are formed by accountants all across the globe. There are titles given to different accounting personnel such as Chartered Certified Accountants, Chartered Accountants, and Certified Public Accountants.
The use of accountancy methods allows companies to create accurate financial reports and accounting forms that are of great help to managers, regulators, shareholders, creditors and owners. When the day-to-day business transactions are recorded in the books of the company, the method used is known as bookkeeping. The heart of the modern financial accounting system is called the double-entry bookkeeping system.
Double-entry bookkeeping systems require at least two entries for each transaction, one being a debit and, the other a corresponding credit. It is imperative that the sum of all debits exactly equals the sum of all credits and, if it does, then it is a promising sign that the entries have been properly recorded. Such a system first found use in medieval Europe, though some claim that it was practiced much earlier in Ancient Greece.
To get into the profession of accountancy, one would need to attain certain qualifications based on the country in which they intend to practice. An accountant needs to be licensed by a number of organizations, mostly at the state and country level although it is not always a legal necessity for an accountant to be a paying member of any one of the institutions and bodies that are in the business of providing such licenses.
There are different types of accountancy including cost accounting, cash-basis and accrual basis accounting, financial accountancy, fund accounting, internal and external accountancy, management accounting, project accounting, positive accounting, environmental accounting and social responsibility accounting. In addition, accounting principles, rules of conduct and actions can be described with the help of different terms like concepts, conventions, tenets, assumption, axioms and also postulates.
An oft cited criticism of accounting is that it has not changed much and there is need for affecting reforms to keep up with the changing business needs and because of the need to keep accounting relevant to changes in capital assets or production capacity. That is not to say that the basic principles will change; for these should be independent of dynamic economics. Of late, there has been deviation in accounting from economic principles that has ended up with controversial reforms being affected in order to make financial reports more pinpointing of economic realities.