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Accounting, also known as accountancy, is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial and non-financial 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. It includes the preparation of financial statements for external users 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 is known as bookkeeping, of which double-entry bookkeeping is the most common system.
Today, accounting is facilitated by accounting organizations such as standard-setters, accounting firms, and professional bodies. Accounting firms audit financial statements 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).