Your entry into a financial career will begin with school. According to a finance job tutorial published by Investopedia.com, undergraduate degrees are considered the bare minimum entrance requirement for any job within the finance market, and to gain an edge on the competition, a postgraduate degree is often necessary. But considering the vast number of degree options and schools that are available to you, picking the right program can be quite daunting. Which degree would be more strategic to reach your personal goals: a finance degree or an accounting degree? Read on to learn how to make that determination.
The breakdown of the differences between accounting and finance careers can be expressed this way: Finance professionals are often required to manage a top-level view of their entities’ pertinent financial information. They not only are involved with the data but also are part of incorporating that information into the strategic decisions made for the company. These decisions affect the financial growth, direction, and priorities of the company or organization. Top financial professionals will have a large influence, and sometimes constant contact or communication, with executives or owners.
Accounting professionals, on the other hand, are much more intimately involved with the data. They do the day-to-day work of recording, organizing, synthesizing, and analyzing business figures for future use. Accounting professionals make it possible to produce reports, track trends, maintain a budget, make payroll, and pay taxes. Accounting degrees allow for a wide range of careers outside that of an internal accountant at a corporation. Accountants can work with public or private firms, serve a host of different types of clients, work with a plethora of accounts or be employed by just one, and focus on various arms of finance, including (but not limited to) tax, projections, analytics, valuation, and budgeting.
Interests Best Suited
Finance careers frequently entail significant time spent in meetings and working alongside teams to devise the best strategies for their companies or entities. Financial professionals must be able to interpret data and effectively share that information with other members of the leadership team. Finance careers are more common in large corporate settings.
Accountants are detail-oriented and adept with numbers. Accountants must stay apprised of current accounting principles and rules as well as the industry’s current best practices, and be able to juggle the demands of employers or clients with legal regulations. Accountants are more likely to find work in a larger variety of settings, from large corporations to small firms, nonprofits, or self-employment.
Finance professionals might work in corporations, with investment firms or funds, or in government offices. One example of a profession within the financial arena is that of a financial advisor. Forbes describes the role of a financial advisor as one who works with various clients to help them meet their financial goals. They do this by providing counsel on their investments, portfolio management, and assets. Financial advisors are knowledgeable about a wide variety of financial systems, including real estate, taxation, education, and retirement planning, investment options, and business. They must be adept at working with clients to first understand their unique financial goals and then be able to provide sound advice for reaching those goals. Financial advisors could work with anyone from individuals with a small handful of assets to major corporation executives with significant portfolios.
An accounting professional can work in a wide selection of settings with different responsibilities. Accounting professionals generally fall into one of three broad categories: public, management, or government. Public accountants work with clients to manage financial information, complete accounting, and tax regulatory obligations and assist with financial and tax planning. Accountants who work within management help analyze financial trends and provide insight and recommendations for directional and investment choices. Government accountants specialize in accounting actions regulated by anything from municipal to federal legislation and might work for either public or private employers.
Whether you have decided that a finance or accounting degree might better suit you, a postgraduate degree will prove vital to expanding your career opportunities. Make sure you invest the time to choose the degree that is most strategic for reaching your career goals and then take steps to invest in yourself by earning that degree.
Learn More about Ohio University
Numbers are the foundation of any business — and no one knows numbers better than accounting and finance professionals. But to succeed as a financial professional in today’s competitive landscape, you need more than numerical know-how; you need the expertise to conduct analysis and leverage data to drive business decisions. That’s exactly what the online Master of Accountancy from Ohio University prepares you to do.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Accountants and Auditors”
Business Administration Information, “The Difference Between Finance and Accounting Degrees”
Business Insider, “What an Accountant Does All Day”
Forbes, “What Does a Financial Advisor Do”
Investopedia, “Financial Career Options for Professionals”