difference between cost and financial accounting

Difference between Cost Accounting and Financial Accounting

When it comes to managing finances, businesses have two main types of accounting – cost accounting and financial accounting. While both present financial information, the purpose they serve, and the way they record transactions are different. In this article, we’ll explore the significant differences between cost accounting and financial accounting to help businesses understand which type of accounting they need.

Cost Accounting

Cost accounting is a process of tracking, analyzing, and controlling costs associated with producing or providing goods and services. It’s a management accounting tool that helps businesses determine the cost of their products, services, and operations. Cost accounting is used to identify areas where costs can be reduced without significantly affecting the output quality.

One of the primary focuses of cost accounting is to measure the direct and indirect costs that go into the production process. Direct costs can include factors like labor cost, raw materials cost, and the cost of manufacturing. Indirect costs, on the other hand, can include items like administrative overhead, rent, and utilities.

Cost accounting is crucial in determining the actual cost of producing goods, and it also presents a breakdown of costs for each product or service. This information can be used to set prices and plan for future production. Cost accounting is mainly used for internal management purposes, and the information generated is not shared with external stakeholders.

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Financial Accounting

Financial accounting, on the other hand, is concerned with recording, summarizing, and communicating financial information to external stakeholders, which can include investors, creditors, and regulators. The purpose of financial accounting is to provide an accurate picture of the financial health of a company to these stakeholders.

The financial statements produced by financial accounting include the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. It’s important to note that financial accounting adheres to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which set the standard for financial reporting in the United States.

Financial accounting deals with the financial transactions of a business, including sales revenue, expenses, and assets. Unlike cost accounting, it doesn’t track the costs of specific products or services. Instead, it presents a broader view of the company’s finances, providing a snapshot of its profitability and financial stability.


To sum it up, cost accounting and financial accounting are two types of accounting used by businesses to manage their finances. Cost accounting is focused on internal management purposes and helps to determine the cost of producing goods and services. Meanwhile, financial accounting is primarily concerned with providing external stakeholders with an accurate view of a company’s financial health. It’s essential for businesses to understand the differences between these two types of accounting to choose the one that best suits their financial needs.

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Table difference between cost and financial accounting

Aspect Cost Accounting Financial Accounting
Purpose Helps to determine the cost of goods and services produced, identify areas of cost savings, and provide information for decision-making within the organization. Provides financial information to external stakeholders, including investors, creditors, and regulators, to help evaluate the financial health of a company.
Timeframe Focuses on short-term analysis of cost behavior within the company. Focuses on long-term analysis of financial performance of the company, typically over a period of one year or longer.
Reporting Reports are used internally by management to help make decisions about operational efficiencies and cost savings. Reports are used to provide information to external stakeholders, including financial statements such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
Scope Looks at specific products or services produced by the organization and helps to identify areas of process improvement and cost reduction. Looks at the overall financial health of the organization, including revenue, expenses, assets, and liabilities.
Focusing Factor Focuses primarily on analyzing the costs. Focuses on the financial transactions.