Principles of Accounting: Chapter One
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Chapter One: Welcome to the World of Accounting
Your goals for this “welcoming” chapter are to learn about:
The nature of financial and managerial accounting information.
The accounting profession and accounting careers.
The accounting equation: Assets = Liabilities + Owners’ Equity.
How transactions impact the accounting equation.
The four core financial statements.
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You likely have a general concept of accounting. Information about the transactions and events of a business is captured and summarized into reports that are used by persons interested in the entity. But, you likely do not realize the complexity of accomplishing this task. It involves a talented blending of technical knowledge and measurement artistry that can only be fully appreciated via extensive study of the subject. The best analogy is to say that you probably know what a surgeon does, but you no doubt appreciate that considerable knowledge and skill is needed to successfully treat a patient. If you were studying to be a surgeon, you would likely begin with some basic anatomy class. In this chapter, you will begin your study of accounting by looking at the overall structure of accounting and the basic anatomy of reporting. Be advised that a true understanding of accounting does not come easily. It only comes with determination and hard work. If you persevere, you will be surprised at how much you discover about accounting. This knowledge is very valuable to business success.
It seems fitting to begin with a more formal definition of accounting: Accounting is a set of concepts and techniques that are used to measure and report financial information about an economic unit. The economic unit is generally considered to be a separate enterprise. The information is reported to a variety of different types of interested parties. These include business managers, owners, creditors, governmental units, financial analysts, and even employees. In one way or another, these users of accounting information tend to be concerned about their own interests in the entity. Business managers need accounting information to make sound leadership decisions. Investors hope for profits that may eventually lead to distributions from the business (e.g., “dividends”). Creditors are always concerned about the entity’s ability to repay its obligations. Governmental units need information to tax and regulate. Analysts use accounting data to form opinions on which they base investment recommendations.
Employees want to work for successful companies to further their individual careers, and they often have bonuses or options tied to enterprise performance. Accounting information about specific entities helps satisfy the needs of all these interested parties.
The diversity of interested parties leads to a logical division in the discipline of accounting: financial accounting and managerial accounting. Financial accounting is concerned with external reporting to parties outside the firm. In contrast, managerial accounting is primarily concerned with providing information for internal management. One may have trouble seeing the distinction; after all, aren’t financial facts being reported? The following paragraphs provide a closer look at the distinctions.
Consider that financial accounting is targeted toward a broad base of external users, none of whom control the actual preparation of