“Accounting is the language of business.”
If you have a way with numbers, going for a business career could be a great decision for you. What is left to do is making your choice between making your choice between a finance and accounting degree..
Now you probably wonder what is the difference between these two most common business degrees? The quick answer would be that a finance major has a wide range, covering an array of specializations in business, economics, and banking, while an accounting major is focused on recording and reporting on financial transactions through budgets, audits, taxes, and more.
Generally speaking, finance is based on planning future financial transactions while accounting deals with reporting past financial transactions. Even though these are two separate functions that require different skill sets, they are often grouped as they revolve around the management of assets.
If you can’t make up your mind on should you study accounting or finance, read on to learn more about each career path and which would be the best for you.
Finance vs Accounting: Understanding The Differences
Now let’s dig into the similarities and differences between finance and accounting careers:
Finance is a broad term associated with managing money and investments for individuals, corporations, and governments. It revolves around the usage of financial data to manage and analyze financial trends regarding investments and opportunities.
Regular duties of a financial analyst include studying business and economic trends, evaluating both past and present financial data, and recommending individual investments based on research and trends.
A finance degree can open up doors to careers such as investment banking, wealth management, and financial planning and analysis. By taking on any of these roles your duty would be to ensure that there is adequate funding for the needs of the situation and that the funds are allocated as optimally as possible. In essence, your job would be to create value by managing capital in a way that gives higher than expected returns.
Accounting represents the recording, maintaining, and communicating of an organization’s financial records. It is vital for any business as it helps measure business activities, process the information into reports, and communicate the results to decision-makers.
As an accounting professional, you would most likely work for individuals, in-house at corporations, or on behalf of other businesses at a public accounting firm. Your duties would be ensuring that all financial transactions are correctly entered into the general ledger and that financial statements and account balances are accurate.
What Skills Are Needed For Accounting And Finance Careers?
We extracted the top ten skills for each career so you can take a look at the side by side comparison in the table below:
As you can notice, the last four skills in both columns overlap, and it’s not surprising since these are essential soft skills that are highly valued on the market. We’ll look more into field-specific skills to get a better understanding of what distinguishes a well-rounded professional, starting with finance:
- Accounting skills
These skills play an important part in your resume as they may encompass the general knowledge you might be required to have to get a job in the finance sector.
- Financial reporting
This skill is a requisite requirement, especially in areas such as superforecasting: Demonstrating a high aptitude for financial reporting can help you stand out from your competitors.
- Technical proficiency
Due to the increased digitization, technology literate financial professionals are in high demand: Being proficient in predictive analytics, accounts payable automation, SAP accounting software or Oracle will give you a competitive advantage.
- Commercial acumen
Having insights into the trends or technology that are shaping the industry, and knowing the way how their company can tap into these trends to drive their revenue will get you far ahead.
- Leadership and management skills
Good leadership skills are a desired trait as financial analysts could sometimes be put in charge of teams or departments. Not to mention that this is a required skill for managerial positions, as well as effective team communication, professional mentoring, and directing collaboration.
- Problem-solving skills
Being able to tackle complex problems as they arise will significantly boost your career.
- General business knowledge
Being informed about functions in other departments and how your department can support their initiatives will help you create more productive relationships in the world of business.
- Spreadsheet proficiency
You should become familiar with Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet platforms as knowing how to prepare spreadsheets efficiently and accurately will set you apart from the new hires.
Working on your writing skills can pay off big time as accountants have many writing tasks to do daily such as emails and instructions and guidelines for improving on-the-job efficiency for team members.
- Time management
This skill is essential for a successful accounting career as these professionals usually work on multiple projects at once. Start practicing on time if you’re to meet deadlines and provide satisfactory results for your future clients.
- Team collaboration
Being a team player is a must in the accounting world as these professionals often
participate in team projects. Establishing a collaborative environment can generate positive results for their organization and pave the way for valuable advancement opportunities.
You need to be able to adapt and comfortable with change as the accounting profession constantly changes and evolves, be it standards and protocols, technological advances, workplace dynamics, or new platforms for client interaction.
As we went over specific skills you should develop to become a successful financial analyst or accountant, it’s time to get to the real thing: Employment prospects for both careers.
What Can You Do With Accounting And Finance Degrees?
When it comes to MBA accounting and finance jobs, both accounting and finance professionals have clients that are individuals, corporations (businesses), governments, and nonprofits.
Yet, there is a significant difference when it comes to their employers.
The most common types of employers in the field of finance are banks, insurance companies, research companies, and operating companies.
As for the accounting roles you will most likely get employed at operating companies, public accounting firms, and personal tax filing firms.
To find out what pays more, finance, or accounting, take a look at the table below.
Now that you have a general idea about how both careers look like, we have a wild offer for you:
Get The Best of The Both Worlds:Go For The Online Accounting & Finance
So what is an accounting and finance degree? This combined degree is designed to provide you with the knowledge of accountancy practices, commerce, industry, and finance, as well as to help you develop a range of subject-specific and technical skills.
Is an Accounting And Finance Degree Good?
Going for an online degree in accounting and finance provides you with excellent graduate prospects and opportunities to work in some of the most prestigious companies and accountancy practices.
Prepare for a thriving business career and climb the corporate ladder by going for the online MBA in Accounting and Finance program with the University of Zambia.
Learn more about the program by downloading our prospectus.
Don’t hesitate to contact us for any additional questions as we’ll be more than happy to help you.