Accounting vs Finance: Which Path Should You Choose?
Accounting vs Finance, which should you choose for your career? They are both popular FAME subjects (Finance, Accounting, Management, Economics). For many, these two areas are options for their career. It is a global industry which is constantly growing and developing.
Finance and accounting is an essential part of every business and therefore these professionals will not be short of a job. To be a part of either of these similar pathways, you need an interest in money, finances, mathematics and business.
This article will discuss the differences between finance and accounting, the career prospects and the qualifications that you need.
The Difference Between Accounting and Finance
Finance is a wide ranging career field. It encompasses many different job roles. Some of the activities involved in finance include investments, lending money (for example mortgages), savings and more. Finance can be divided into public, corporate and personal.
Those in financial roles usually work with a businesses money and find ways to invest it and save it. Businesses will hire financial professionals to help provide growth.
On the other hand, accountants have the task of money management. They will deal with invoicing, bills and provide the business with information on how they are doing financially. They will do the day in, day out tasks involved with financial records such as budgeting.
Therefore, when debating accounting vs finance, accounting is a far more specialised area of financial management and the two should not get confused. It is recommended to research in depth which areas you would like to be a part of. Either you would like to be a part of the realm of finance with opportunities dealing with the financial growth of businesses or you would like to deal with the ins-and-outs of a businesses money management with accounting.
Some other key differences between the two is that accounting is backwards thinking whilst finance is forward thinking. Accountants have the role of managing money that has been spent whilst financial roles focus on the outgoings and what money will be spent, for example, investments.
The Career Pathways
As we have discovered that accounting and finance are not the same thing, both have different career pathways. Here are some of the most common jobs that individuals progress into after they have completed their qualifications and beyond.
- Commercial banking
- Private banking
- Wealth management
- Mortgages and lending
- Investment banking
- Management accounting
- Tax accountant
- Group accounting
In the battle of accounting vs finance, each have different career paths. Although they are relatively similar, accounting is far more specialised and the options for career progression are far broader in finance. If you want to make an educated decision about which one to study or pursue a career in, it may be wise to choose the job position you would love to go into first.
When it comes to the most well paid career pathway, it is thought that, on average, those who graduate finance education will progress to higher paid roles. However, they are very similar. Accountants are earning around 48k+ per year. Investment bankers could be earning over 50k. Your salary will depend on how new you are to the role and the type of role you have. Both accounting a finance can lead to very fulfilling careers in terms of the salary that you would receive.
The Various Qualifications
If you are looking to study accounting or finance there are different options in regard to the qualifications that you can get. However, there may be some specific qualifications you need for some accounting or finance jobs. Ensure that you research which qualification would be best for you in regards to which job role you want to go into. Here are some of the relevant qualifications in the UK.
- Bookkeeping Qualifications
Bookkeeping is part of accounting processes and therefore it can be a great place to make a start to your accounting career. There are level 2 and 3 certificates in the area which will allow you to understand the basics of bookkeeping. There are also advanced bookkeeping courses.
- ACCA, CIMA, Masters Qualifications
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification is a masters level and you only need 2 A levels and 3 GSCEs or equivalent before you can start studying.
The CIMA, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants offers a professional qualification which allows you to be a Chartered Global Management Accountant.
Postgraduate study is needed for a career in management accounting.
- BSc Accounting
A bachelor’s degree may be a good choice for those who want to obtain a wide range of experience in accounting.
- Masters in Finance (MiF)
- Banking Qualifications
The Associate Chartered Banker Diploma, Professional Banker Diploma and the Professional Banker Certificate are all offered by the Chartered Banker Institute.
These qualifications will allow you to enter the banking industry if this is the area of finance that you are interested in.
- BSc Finance
A bachelor’s degree in finance could be a fantastic choice for building a strong financial foundation for all careers in finance.
- Chartered Insurance Institute
The level 3 certificate in financial services was developed by the CII. This allows you to progress into life and pensions or general financial services.
- Diploma in Financial Planning
- Certified Financial Planner Certification with the CISI
- Chartered Tax Advisor from the CIOT
There are many qualifications that encompass both accounting and finance. Therefore, you may not even have to answer the question of accounting vs finance in terms of academic education, you can simply do both! In this way you can learn how you could become an accountant but also the whole range of roles in finance (there is a lot). Furthermore, if you go into a role and decide that it is not for you, you have so many other options.
The College of Contract Management offers an HND course in Accounting and Finance, this combines the two subject areas and allows you to explore your options after or during your study. The Higher National Diploma is a Pearson qualification and it is the equivalent to a level 5 qualification. This means that if you wished, you could top it up to a full degree. For example, a BSc Accounting and Finance.
The HND in Accounting and Finance is business based, this means it has a wealth of business related modules within the course. After you complete the HND you can expect to go into roles such as: accounting technician, stockbroker, internal auditor, management accounting and much more. Of course, you may have to do extra qualifications or obtain some experience after you complete the course.
The College of Contract Managements HND courses are all delivered online and fit around your schedule. This means you could study accounting and finance when you also work full time. This allows the course to be taken worldwide, without leaving your house. Online courses are becoming increasingly popular, especially since the global pandemic. Therefore, the safest place to learn currently is on online platforms.
The Courses in an Accounting and Finance Degree
If you decide to kick start your career journey from the HND in Accounting and Finance, you could progress to a bachelor’s degree and complete the final year of your studies at university.
The modules that you will learn will be different for accounting and finance but many will likely overlap.
In a accounting degree you will likely learn things like statistics, taxation and auditing.
For finance degrees you will learn basic finance skills, economics and statistics, macro and microeconomics, risk management and more. Accounting and finance sometimes overlap, for example you may learn about accounting in a finance degree due to it being a broad subject area.
These degrees will usually take around 3 years to complete, 4 years if you do a placement or a year abroad.
When considering accounting vs finance when it comes to which degree you should study, if you are unsure of what area you would ultimately like to go into, finance may be the most suitable choice. This is because finance is a more broad area and you could learn accounting within that degree. On the other hand, plenty of universities do a joint degree which would allow you to be reassured that after your studies you can choose to go into either routes. However, if you know that you only want to do accounting, a single degree in accounting would be the best option, then you would not have to learn modules that you are not interested in.
What Skills Do You Need?
If you are wishing to be an accountant, here are the skills that are essential in professional working life.
Firstly, you need a high level of numeracy, you will be working with financial statements all day and need to know how to do basic calculations. Without a high level of proficiency in this area you may find you struggle to get through the recruitment process. Secondly, you would ideally have a high interest in business. After all, you are going to be working heavily with businesses and if you do not like the ins and outs of business operations then you may find that this career is not for you. Thirdly, you will need great analytical ability. Your daily tasks may be challenging and one of the most challenging bits is being able to analyse.
For those who are interested in financial services such as banking or insurance, you need a great deal of communication skills. You will likely have a wealth of business meetings and you may be expected to make presentations. You need to be able to speak clearly, have confidence and make conversation easily. In addition, you will need excellent problem solving ability. One of the most important skills you need for financial roles is organisation and time management. As finance is a very busy industry with many conflicting interests, you need to be able to organise your work effectively and determine how you can complete work in a timely manner.
In conclusion, accounting vs finance must depend upon your personal preferences. It all depends on your career interests, such as what you would like to do as a long term career. Further, it is dependent on which courses you would enjoy studying and finally it will be in relation to which skills that you acquire. Hopefully this article has helped you understand which career would be best for you and the different options that you could take. If you can’t choose between the two, then you could take the HND in Accounting and Finance and potentially top it up to a BSc. The joint course will allow yo to broaden your horizons and make a decision later down the line. After all, there is no rush when it comes to your perfect career.