Rajesh Pathak Jan 25, 2024
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Accounting vs Finance: Which One's Right for You?

As the global economy continues to evolve, so do new and emerging industries. Accounting and finance have always been popular fields of study among undergraduate students as they cover a broad spectrum. It has its similarities, but you must choose the right one for you when choosing a career.

You can summarise the primary difference between accounting and finance by looking at how narrowly focused accounting discipline is when considering the breadth of the finance discipline. While accounting may focus on bookkeeping for businesses, financial professionals work with investment bankers who deal primarily with stocks and other securities and economic institutions such as banks.

Accounting and finance are two related but different fields of study. Accounting deals with financial records, whereas finance is more about investments and money management. There are many career options in both accounting and finance. So, it can be challenging to decide which one is right for you. This blog will discuss what accounting and finance means, the skills required for each field, the careers available in each area, and which niche would be best suited for your personality.

What is Finance?

Finance is a hugely important part of every person's life. It encompasses managing money and acquiring needed funds, such as budgeting, forecasting, lending or saving. The time value of money plays a vital role in finance because they can compare what you have now with how much something will cost at different points in the future.

Finance is a broad term that encloses an understanding of the company's financial situation and makes decisions about what to do with the finances. A finance professional's job focuses on the return of investment (ROI) and strategising to maximise investments.

Finance concepts are based on microeconomics and macroeconomics theory. Finance professionals are the masterminds behind organisations' investment decisions. They ensure that there is sufficient funding for all aspects of a company's needs. It takes significant education, training, experience and careful calculations to calculate how much money should go into which endeavours at any given time. 

Careers in Finance

Careers in finance include jobs such as:

  • Commercial banker
  • Investment banker
  • Financial broker
  • Financial Consultant
  • Financial trader
  • Hedge fund manager
  • Insurance officer
  • Financial analyst
  • Quant specialist
  • Fund managers

Finance professionals often deal with retail, investment and commercial banks, insurance companies, research companies, government agencies, stockholders, suppliers and operating companies.

Skills Required for Finance

To choose a career in finance, you have to analyse your skills and interests to match the career. See that your personality, soft skills and hard skills match with professionals in order to gain momentum. Some of the superior  skills of finance include:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Theoretical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Research skills
  • Knowledge of the stock market, trade, and investment
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving
  • Understand and interpret numerical and statistical data
  • Business developmental skills

What is Accounting?

Accounting is the discipline of recording, maintaining, and reporting a company's financial accounts. Accounting jobs are vital for any business as it measures business activities, record budgets, audits and taxes.

Accountants and auditors focus on specific financial reports that provide a detailed picture of how an organisation operates. It includes examining financial statements, computing taxes, organising and maintaining financial records, suggesting ways to reduce costs, enhance revenues, and improve profits.

Accounting careers are specialised and a narrow field of discipline than finance. It focuses on the regular financial reports and records, which is then used by the fiance to decide future growth and analyse expenditure. As an accounting professional, you will deal with a lot of paperwork and details to manage the cash flow for the company.

Careers in Accounting

Accounting often gets overlooked as a supporting skillset alongside finance. Accounting careers typically deal with journal entries, invoicing, creating quarterly and annual financial reports, managing debt, and audit transactions. Some of the careers in accounting include:

  • Accountant
  • Auditor
  • Bookkeeper
  • Budget analyst
  • Credit controller
  • Forensic accountant
  • Cost accounting manager
  • Controller
  • Treasurer 
  • Technical accounting manager
  • Tax accountant
  • Payroll administrator
  • Risk assessor
  • Public accountant

Accounting professionals often deal with careers in public accounting firms, corporations, finance companies, tax agencies, auditing companies, personal tax filing firms, operation companies, etc.

Skills Required for Accountant 

Accounting professionals need the same combination of accounting expertise and general business knowledge as finance professionals. Apart from the similarities, some of the soft skills and hard skills required by an accountant include:

  • Quantitative skill
  • Accuracy
  • Reliability
  • Specialised knowledge of accounting topics
  • Organising
  • Awareness of GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles)
  • Expertise in technology and accounting software
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong understanding of business techniques

What Careers do Finance and Accounting Graduates Pursue?

For those who find themselves interested in finance, there are several different specialisations that you can pursue. These include corporate finance, financial evaluation, capital markets, econometrics, quantitative finance, investment management, financial reporting, financial regulations, and many more.

In the post-graduation level and specialised certifications, finance has specific accreditations to enhance your career. Some of the professional accreditations you can pursue to acquire finance jobs are CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), CTA (Certified Treasury Professional), and CPRM (Certified Professional Risk Manager). .

Some people who study accounting can specialise in auditing, tax, risk assessment and international accounting. They may also have the option to do forensic accountancy, which would allow them to immerse themselves in real-life case studies.  These case studies can explain how accounting processes are used within legal proceedings like fraud cases or insurance claims. 

Professional accreditations for an accounting career like CPA (Certified Public Accountant), ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), and CA (Chartered Accountant) will help you pursue specialised accounting jobs. Building the skills in international financial reporting standards necessary for success in today's global corporate environment will be facilitated by taking an IFRS Certification Course. Moreover, It will help build your skillset and achieve a rewarding job opportunity in a reputed company.

Read Also: High Paying Accounting Careers for 2023

Accounting vs Finance

Accounting is the process of summarising transactions and reporting them to stakeholders. Professionals can apply it across various industries, including banking, insurance, retail and more. Finance covers everything from investing money into projects or companies through shareholder management to working on government policy decisions.

Degrees in finance focus on quantitatively analysing investment markets and finding profit opportunities. At the same time, degrees in accounting are best suited for individuals who want to work specifically with the more bureaucratic aspects of company administration.

Accounts are said to be backward-looking as they take care of past financial information to prepare reports. In contrast, those in the finance field are said to be forward-looking as they have the requirement to predict the future.

One other significant difference between accounting and finance careers is that accountants are responsible for creating financial statements. In contrast, finance professionals analyse them.

If collecting and organising extensive data such as invoices, receipts, and financial records interest you, being an accountant will be a sound choice. If you prefer analysing, interpreting information and strategising to perform better, then finance would be the right niche for you.

Accounting vs Finance Coursework

The difference between an accounting degree and a finance degree is that while there are some overlaps. The curriculum of a finance-based course tends to be more mathematics-intensive with courses in financial markets, portfolio management theory, and investments. In addition, finance degrees tend to have evaluative and analytical content, whereas most accounting courses focus on numbers for record-keeping.

Degrees in accounting include more coursework on quantitative analysis, internal auditing, income taxation and accounting practices. In addition, accounting is more process-oriented since many degree programs offer less choice in major classes than finance does.

Some of the specific course content for accounting include:

  • Auditing
  • Budget analysis
  • Forensic accounting
  • Financial reporting
  • Management accounting
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Tax accounting

Some of the specific course content for finance include:

  • Behavioral finance
  • Asset market
  • Finance mathematics
  • Financial planning
  • Financial Accounting
  • International Finance
  • Risk assessment
  • Venture capital


Finance vs Accounting: Salary Expectations and Job Outlook

A degree in finance or accounting opens up many exciting career paths in the business world. Many of the positions forecast with high growth are those which are specialised and require a higher-level education. Other less-specialized roles currently have lower levels of demand.

An average earning potential of an accountant in the US is $ 71,500. At the same time, a finance major acquires an average salary of $ 85,600 in the US. It is also crucial to note that both majors possess equally demanded career opportunities around the world. With a post-graduation degree or specialised certifications, you can gain a competitive edge in today's market.

To Sum up

The two fields of accounting and finance are very much alike, but also different. Both accountants and financiers need to understand the basics of how a company makes money in order to do their jobs well. You may want to major in one of these subjects while taking courses from the other as electives so that you can better understand what each entails before making a decision.

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