Finance and Accounting are two separate disciples that often are lumped together (as we obviously have done). At a high level, Finance is the science of planning the distribution of a business’ assets. Accounting is the art of the recording and reporting financial transactions. People tend to group Finance and Accounting because both functions deal with the administration of a business’ assets.
Those who work in the financial department of a business are concerned with planning the distribution of the business’ assets. This includes the coordination of capital investments and debt backed investments for the purpose of improving the value of the business. Those in Finance also plan the exit strategy for the investors of the business, which is the way in which those that invest in the business receive their financial reward. The financial goals and objectives of the business are designed by the business’ Chief Financial Officer, who is supported by people focused on Financial Analysis, Financial Management, Budgeting, Purchasing, and Accounting.
Those who work in the Accounting function of a business are concerned with tracking and reporting the financial transactions of a business. Those in the Accounting field are responsible for managing the general ledger, cash flow management, collections, recognizing revenue, analyzing profitability, reporting earnings, managing debt, and—of course—paying taxes. Accountants research and report the financial transactions and health of the business using a standard set of rules and principles, known as the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), as well as Section 446 of the Internal Revenue Code. Jobs in the Accounting function include Financial Reporting Accountants, Auditors, Bookkeepers, Accounts Receivable Clerks, Accounts Payable Clerks, Controllers, Treasurers, and Tax Accountants. Typically, the entire Accounting organization will report into the Chief Financial Officer.
Broadly speaking, Finance revolves around planning future financial transactions while Accounting revolves around reporting past financial transactions. While these are two separate functions that require different skill sets, they do both revolve around the management of assets; therefore, they are grouped together more often than not.