Financial Accounting Overview

Released once a month, every quarter, or once per year, an income statement reports revenue, expenses, and net earnings or losses of a company for a given period. A company's net revenue is calculated by subtracting allowances for uncollectable accounts, discounts, etc. from the business's gross sales or revenue. From there, subtract the cost of sales, or how much the lot of products or services cost to make for the accounting period, from the net revenues figure. This results in gross profit or gross margin. Depreciation, along with amortization—or the cost of machinery and equipment losing life over time—is subtracted from the gross profit figure.

From there, operating expenses, which aren’t directly attributable to product or service production but are running day-to-day operations, are deducted from the resulting gross profit figure. This number is now called income from operations or operating profit before interest and income expense. Depending on the number, the interest income or interest expense is either added or subtracted from operating profits to arrive at the operating profit before income tax. Finally, income tax is deducted, resulting in net profit (net income or net earnings) or net losses. For publicly traded companies, it gives investors insight as to how much the company is making per share—so-called “earnings per share” (EPS).

Statement of Cash Flow

Per the SEC, a statement of cash flow features three sections that detail sources and utilization of the business’ operating, financing, and investing cash flows. It paints a picture of inflows and outflows of the business's cash levels. At the end of the day, it helps anyone interested in the company's financials, especially potential and current investors, to see the latest status and trends of cash flow.

One way to calculate cash flow, according to the SEC, is to look at a company’s free cash flow (FCF). This is calculated as follows:

Free Cash Flow = Operating Cash Flow – Capital Expenditures

Free Cash Flow = $50 million – $20 million = $30 million

This information is useful because free cash flow can help determine a company’s financial health, how well (or not) the business model is performing, and its overall likelihood of success moving forward. Additionally, understanding the difference in accounting methods is another helpful piece of financial accounting analysis.

Accrual Method vs. Cash Method

Accrual Method

When it comes to the accrual method, according to the Congressional Research Service, when a business is paid for services or products to be rendered in the future, the payment is permitted to be recognized as revenue only when the product or service has been rendered. When it comes to accounting for expenses that are presumably deductible, under the accrual method, the expense can be recorded when it’s experienced by the business, not when payment has been made to the utility, raw material supplier, etc.

Cash Method

If a consultant gets payment immediately but isn't expected to do said job until the following month, this approach requires revenue to be recognized when the cash has been received. Similarly, when expenses are paid is when expenses are recorded.


For any business that handles inventory or sells to customers on credit, accrual accounting is required by the Internal Revenue Service. Similarly, for companies with an average gross receipt of revenues greater than $25 million for the past 36 months, the IRS mandates accrual accounting. For companies with an average gross receipt of revenues of less than $25 million, depending on the exact circumstances of the company's business nature, cash or accrual may be used.

Financial accounting provides investors, business owners, and those providing businesses with legal and accounting services a way to monitor performance and compliance. 

Audits in Accounting: Improving Audit Quality with Data Analytics

Audits in Accounting: Improving Audit Quality with Data Analytics

Auditing is crucial to ensuring the accuracy and fairness of financial information; however, one of the biggest threats to the audit field’s reputation is data quality. This is due to the large volumes of data that businesses produce these days. In order to manage the vast quantity of data, auditors are turning to data analytics.

Data Analytics and Audits

Technology plays a major role in business growth as it aids in reducing operational costs and improving customer service. As such, many businesses have adopted enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. These systems produce huge volumes of data, making it nearly impossible to analyze using the traditional audit process.

Auditors are left with no choice but to also use IT-based solutions, which has led to the development of audit software to support the auditors in data extraction and analysis. To further enhance the workings of audit software, the programs are being integrated with data analytics. Since data analytics works with structured data, the systems incorporate machine learning (deep learning) to extract useful data from a host of unstructured data.

Although these developments in the audit profession have not changed the primary role of auditors, they have changed how an audit is done by helping produce high quality audit evidence.

How Data Analytics Improves Audit Quality

Traditional audits involve combing through piles of data, which is time consuming. As a result, auditors prefer workarounds like data sampling, which does not give a true outcome. With data analytics, an auditor does not have to restrict data to financial reporting systems only. Instead, they can use data from multiple complete data sets, such as sales statistical data and employee and customer master data. This enables an auditor to go beyond traditional audits that target limited data and include different audit-relevant data.

Using data analytics tools, auditors look for predefined patterns that help reveal ambiguous relationships between variables that a manual system might not identify. This helps facilitate a more comprehensive decision that includes all data sets.

By integrating data analytics, auditors have access to a powerful tool that helps them better understand a business. As a result, they can easily identify key audit risks, provide deeper insights into a business’ systems and controls, detect fraud, and provide value in a less costly manner.

Apart from simplifying and speeding up the audit process, data analytics also enables auditors to focus on key risks. The capabilities of data analytics continue to evolve to the point of automating the auditing process through advanced data analytics (ADA). This enables the automation of routine audit processes, allowing the auditors more time for matters that require professional judgment.

Challenges of Audit Data Analytics

Audit data analytics is not without its challenges, though. One obstacle is data exchange between a business and an auditor, whether internal or external. This is in relation to different systems used in data collection. To handle this challenge, the AICPA introduced data standards to be used for data requests and to ensure the production of standard reports from the ERP systems.

Another challenge is the integrity of data fed into the analytics systems, as this determines the quality of the end results. Systems used should be designed around collecting meaningful data. Auditors must also ensure that the conclusions fed into the systems are accurate and correct. 

Although data analytics reduces the sampling risk, it introduces the challenge of dealing with exceptions, mostly referred to as outliers, that produce results outside audit expectations. This calls for auditors to investigate the exceptions/outliers to determine if they are errors or misstatements.


Integrating data analytics into the audit process greatly improves audit quality and credibility. With rapid advancements in technology, the capabilities of data analytics will continue to evolve, making auditing work even more efficient while maintaining high quality.

Although the adoption of data analytics is dependent on the size of a business, the availability of skilled staff is also crucial. To remain relevant in a fast-changing environment, auditors need to advance their skills to effectively use the data analytics tools.

Accounting Mistakes that Cost Small Businesses Significant Growth

Accounting Mistakes that Cost Small Businesses Significant Growth

Although intended for small business owners, this article discusses accounting mistakes that can hinder growth in your business no matter the size. First and foremost, failing to hire the right CPA can immediately put a cap on the amount your business can grow. Additionally, topics such as mixing personal and business finances and ineffective billing management can also lead to slowed and even no growth inside of your company. 

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