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Difference Between Finance and Accounting

Difference between Accounting & Finance

The two terms Accounting and Finance – often used interchangeably – sometimes confuse people with a finance background. Finance is often considered a broader umbrella term under which accounting comes as a subset.  

While accounting is a part of finance. Finance depends on accounting for the source of data from the financial reports or statements, an accounting output. In other words, finance begins where accounting ends. This highlights the need to understand the difference between finance and accounting. 

Let’s get started understanding finance and accounting. 

What is Accounting & Finance?


The critical difference between accounting and finance is that accounting focuses on recording and managing day-to-day monetary transactions and reporting. This involves keeping books of accounts and preparing and making available financial statements. It also includes auditing accounts and complying with tax and other statutory obligations.  


Finance, on the other hand, is about the management of assets. The assets include cash, inventory, capital assets, and equipment. It also comprised receivables and liabilities, capital, payables, and loans. This encompasses investing, borrowing, lending, planning, opex budgeting, capital budgeting, and forecasting. 

The typical accounting function includes summarizing and publishing financial statements, income statements or profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. Financial analysts study and analyze this to provide insights to facilitate management decision-making. 

In short, it is done with the support of finance activities. These activities follow forecasting the benefits from investments, enhancing the organization’s and its shareholders’ value. Additionally, it covers mitigating and managing risks. Thus, finance plays a considerable role in multinational corporations. 

Simply put, accounting refers to the system of recording and maintaining monetary or financial transactions, and finance is about analyzing, planning, controlling, and managing the assets and liabilities of an organization for its future growth. Accounting is about today, and finance is about tomorrow. Accounting can also be broken down into managerial accounting and financial accounting, and this discussion is restricted to financial accounting. 

Key Differences Between Accounting and Finance 

Comparing budgeting practices in finance and accounting is critical for any financial management. 

Difference between Accounting & Finance

1. Corporate Compliance 


Accounting is more about compliance with corporate laws, tax laws, and accounting standards relevant to the respective country. It is IFRS in the Middle East and Europe, Ind-AS in India, and US GAAP in the USA. 


Finance has no such statutory obligations. Except it may be complying with the rules related to foreign exchange, external borrowings, and cross-border investment stipulated by the Central Banks like the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in India, the Federal Reserve System in the US, or The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) in Saudi Arabia. This also includes the Central Bank of UAE, or Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in India, or regulations related to IPO. Further, it follows exchange listing or investments of securities boards like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US or the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in India.

2. Focus and Scope


While accounting deals with past transactions and financial reporting, finance looks forward to the values that come from the future. In accounting, financial statements are prepared following the equation: Assets = Liabilities + Shareholders\’ fund or equity. 

The finance reviews it differently. What a business owns (its assets) in the form of fixed assets and current assets, what it owes (its liabilities) by way of long-term liabilities (loans and liabilities payable after one year) and current liabilities. Further, the residual (shareholders fund or equity) constitutes the total paid-up capital, current year profit minus appropriations, reserves, surplus, and retained earnings. 


Finance looks at business from a cash perspective and how best its resources can be used to generate cash. Free cash flow is one of the most critical measurements of financial position. This tells the management how much money is available with the company for distribution to the investors and shareholders and reinvesting. Managing cash flow indicates how strong the health and liquidity of a company are. It also highlights why investment decisions are based on the expectation of future cash inflows. 

3. Financial Measurement 


Most accounting standards, tax authorities, and corporate laws mandate the maintenance of accounting records on an accrual method. Easy transaction management of finances is recorded when the revenues are earned, and expenses are incurred as opposed to when they are received or paid in cash. Accrual accounting allows a year-on-year comparison of a company’s financial results. This is based on the matching principle that expenses incurred to earn an income should be accounted for in the same period. 


Instead, finance considers the cash a business can generate and leverage for growth as the best measurement of economic returns. Let’s imagine you invoiced a customer on 30 December 2021. However, the payment was received on 28 January 2022. It will be accounted as revenue in the financial year ending 31st December (assuming January to December financial year) 2021 under the accrual accounting method. In contrast, in cash flow, this revenue will be considered only in the next financial year starting on 1 January 2022. 

4. Business Valuation


The approach to business valuation differs widely in both disciplines. In accounting, the assets and liabilities are captured at historical cost.


Finance considers the time value of money in high esteem. The time value of money is a widely accepted notion that there is a more significant benefit to receiving a sum of money now rather than later. 

The popular technique to calculate the present value of future benefits or cash flow is the discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. In this method, future cash flows are forecasted and discounted using the discount factor (cost of capital) to arrive at their present values (PVs). 

All discounted future cash flows, inflows, and outflows give the net present value (NPV). 

Here is how the DCF is computed:

Where: CF = Cash Flow in the Period, r = the interest or discount rate. n = the period number.

For example, US$100.00 in a savings account will be worth US$. 105.00 in a year at 5% annual interest rate. Similarly, suppose a delay in paying US$100.00 for a year is equivalent to a present value (PV) of US$95.00 because it cannot be invested to earn interest or return. In that case, we can calculate the PV using the above formula: 100 (cf) /(1+05 (r))^1 (n) = 95.00.

While listed companies are valued at the market cap, unlisted companies resort to various valuation methods like DCF, VC method, Revenue Multiple, Comparable analysis, and Precedent Transactions. 

DCF is the ideal valuation method for startups in the early stages where revenue traction is not sufficient or comparable is not available to allow other methods.

Difference between Accounting & Finance

Concluding Note 

Understanding the fundamental difference between accounting and finance helps you develop good financial awareness to make solid business decisions. Businesses must get an insight into their financial performance. This is in the context of external and internal factors to devise a financial strategy for business growth and sustenance. 

Finance leadership can only do justice to their role with a deep understanding and expertise in accounting principles. The challenge is that most small businesses may need top-notch finance professionals to guide them. While there has been a tendency to outsource accounting or engage with virtual CFO service providers, there are other better options that you should try. 

Paci.ai is a unified finance management platform for SMBs. Navigating the complicated data and constantly shifting industry intricacies in the complex realm of SMB operations can be difficult. That’s where we offer customized insights and financial advisory.

Are you looking forward to tackling the backward-looking nature of accounting with its insights and predictor modules? Don’t hesitate to contact us right now for all your financial management.

Reshape Your Financial Management With Paci.ai


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