Principles of Financial Accounting

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Accounting for finances is essential to the management and success of any business. In order to produce financial statements that offer useful insights into a company's financial health, it is the process of recording and summarising financial transactions. In order to make data-driven decisions about the company, creditors, investors, and other external stakeholders also consult these statements.

Financial accounting is the fundamental tool that enables businesses to monitor their financial performance, pinpoint their areas of strength and weakness, and implement the necessary adjustments to increase profitability.

Businesses can comply with legal and regulatory requirements like tax reporting and financial disclosure by using financial accounting. Accounting also helps supply investors and creditors with the data they need to evaluate the company's financial position and growth potential while helping draw in and retain investors and creditors.

GAAP: Definition and Importance

Financial accounting is governed by a set of principles that control how financial information is recorded, reported, and presented. These guidelines are intended to guarantee the accuracy, dependability, and comparability of financial statements across various organisations. 

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The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) created a set of accounting standards and guidelines known as GAAP, or generally accepted accounting principles, which serve as a framework for financial accounting and reporting. For external users like investors, creditors, and regulatory agencies, financial statements are prepared using these principles.

In order to make financial statements accurate, dependable, and comparable across various organisations, GAAP was created. They offer a standard language for financial reporting that enables users to base decisions on reliable and transparent financial data.

The measurement and recognition of assets, liabilities, equity, revenue, expenses, and cash flows are just a few of the many topics that GAAP addresses. The accrual basis of accounting, the going concern premise, the consistency principle, the materiality principle, and the full disclosure principle are some of the important principles covered by GAAP.

While GAAP is the standard framework for financial reporting in many countries, there are other frameworks such as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Many companies choose to follow GAAP even if they are not legally required to do so, as it is considered a best practice in financial reporting.

For instance, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), India’s regulatory body for financial accounting, oversees the accounting principles in India. The ICAI establishes the accounting standards and guidelines for financial reporting in India, which are based on the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

What are the Essential Principles of Financial Accounting?

Accrual basis

Transactions are recorded when they happen under the accrual basis of accounting, regardless of when payment is received or made. According to this principle, recording transactions on a cash basis may not accurately reflect the financial performance of a business because economic activity occurs over time.

Going concern

According to the going concern principle, assets and liabilities can be recorded as long-term if a company is expected to operate indefinitely. Businesses can make investments in long-term projects and plan for the future thanks to this principle.


According to the consistency principle, accounting procedures must be used consistently from one period to the next. By doing this, it is made possible for financial data to be compared over time and between various organisations. Additionally, it promotes credibility and trust in financial reporting.


According to the "materiality principle," only important or relevant information should be reported, and irrelevant details should be left out. This principle takes into account the fact that not all information is equally significant to those who will be reading financial statements and that reporting all details may be confusing and overwhelming.

Historical cost

Assets must be recorded at their original cost in accordance with the historical cost principle. This principle acknowledges that although an asset's value may change over time, recording it at its original cost offers a trustworthy and verifiable foundation for financial reporting.

Full disclosure

According to the full disclosure principle, financial statements must contain all pertinent information, including footnotes and other supplemental data. This rule makes sure that anyone who uses financial statements has access to all the data they need to make wise decisions.


Financial accounting is an essential component of almost every successful business, thus the principles of financial accounting must be followed by companies and firms in every country or location. By providing accurate financial information in a timely fashion, businesses can make better data-driven decisions, manage their finances effectively and achieve long-term success in this competitive market.

If you wish to learn essential leadership skills such as financial management, marketing management and operations management, you can enrol in the IIM Lucknow Global Senior Leadership Programme.

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