Sunday, October 17, 2021

Studying Accounting And Finance – Guide for UK Residents

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How would you feel if you could turn your love for money and numbers into a career? A career in accounting and finance can help you do just that. Accounting and finance jobs form the foundational pillars of every business there is.

Statistics from 2018 suggest that there are far over 2 Million accountants worldwide – with about 590,000 more studying to become one. Of these, 164,000 students belonged to the U.K.! 

This exhaustive guide will help you understand the field better. Know your options and obligations if you were to pursue a career in it and make a sound, informed decision about choosing accounting and finance as your field of study.

What is Accounting and Finance?

There is a difference between finance and accounting. Sure, both involve careful recording, analysis, and subsequent prediction and strategy making related to business activities. Both have a lot to do with money but there are several specializations and sub-specializations within them. 

However, while one area of accounting and finance involves maximizing profits, minimizing losses, identifying the gaps, and so on, the other is about auditing, forecasting, and advisory.

It involves understanding that a smiley on a sales graph is not in any way depicting a happy place, rather a poorly performing business. But that only makes up for as much finance as the ruler makes up an accounting report. 

Why Study Accounting and Finance?

Because it’s important. Not just for accountants and finance experts, but any individual who aims to play smart with money. Accounting and finance, particularly because of their all-encompassing nature, are ideal for people of all interests, especially in business. It is also very useful if you aim at getting a job with the government or in the public sector. 

And with each passing year, the potential in the industry is rising. The demand for accountants and professionals from a finance background keeps increasing in the U.K. and in response, the number of students registered in the field is record-breaking. The field gives you a striking competitive edge and several functional pillars of any running business end up relying on your work. 

Is Accounting and Finance A Good Degree?

What you see as an accountant job description has differed down the years. There are more management accountant jobs today, for instance. Employers are looking at new technologies, like cloud-based accounting to get work done. The market also has more part-time accountant jobs than ever before.  

Digital technologies have taken center stage in functional accounting and finance, making it one of the fastest industries to adapt to the revolution. With digital transformation sweeping away manual processes in most companies, accountants and finance specialists spend a good amount of time in Cloud; 9 or not. 

Having proficiency with the latest technologies means you will always have a competitive edge if you were to switch your field any time in the future. That being said, you should also remember that these are degrees that come along with a lot of responsibilities. As an accountant, you can be in trouble for missing even a single point!

Accounting and finance is the best degree for you if you:

      Are good with numbers.

      Have excellent analytical skills.

      Are exceptionally well at managing money and resources.

      Are interested in technical forecasting and analysis.

Accounting and Finance Course Entry Requirements In the U.K.

Accounting and finance are considered a harder major than general management, business, or marketing degrees. The required cutoffs are, therefore, generally higher than most courses.

Important Subjects For Qualifying Entry Requirements

Since this degree is all about crunching and analyzing trends in numbers, you can’t leave out mathematics. From an application perspective, A-levels include subjects related to accounting, business, and management. Relational subjects like economics are also considered for A-levels by a few universities. 

While the minimum eligibility varies, the most popularly accepted ones are as follows:

  •     A-Levels: A minimum of 3 A levels are required with top universities handing out offers generally to AAA or AAB applicants. Some may consider an ABB if other requirements are par excellence and you have adequate academic/work qualifications. Most universities consider an A-level Mathematics to be indispensable.
  •     SQA Higher Entry Requirements: AAAAAB with proven excellence in Mathematics and Humanities. Some universities establish an ‘adjustment’ threshold of students with AABBB – BBBBB followed by offering top-up courses to qualify. 
  •     GCSE: 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or higher including Mathematics grade A/7 is considered top tier. Several good universities, however, give a pass to Mathematics 6/B and above. 
  •     IB: 38 points overall (6,6,6 HL) – 32 points overall (6,5,5 HL).

Note: Entry requirements differ among different universities and courses in the same university. You need to research the university’s specific entry requirements and the course that you are targeting. There are many finance graduate jobs available, including NHS finance jobs. 

Tip: Look up for ancillary requirements that can help you qualify despite not meeting the primary requirements by a small gap.

International Accounting and Finance Course Requirements

According to the 2020 QS World Rankings for accounting and finance, 4 premier universities from the U.K. made it to the top 20. Safe to say, the U.K. is one of the top choices for international students to pursue a degree.  

The entry criteria differ according to the course and university. For international students, the country and its education system are also taken into consideration. 

As a student from outside the U.K., you might have to present English Language proficiency certificates and demonstrate a certain level of acquaintance with business through research papers or case studies.

You can take one of the following English Language Tests and will need approximately the respective minimum scores:

  •     TOEFL: 88
  •     IELTS: 6.5
  •     PTE: 59
  •     Cambridge: 176

Accounting and Finance: Career Prospects

It is common knowledge that no company, however big or small, can operate without accounts and finance. The best-paying jobs in finance can have a different and varied niche, like the following:

      Chartered Accountant

      Public Finance Accountant

      Retail and Investment Banker

      Management Trainee

      Civil Servant

      Broker

      Auditor

      Finance Analyst

      Insolvency Administrator

      Tax and Business Advisor

Your answer to what do finance jobs pay will depend on the career path you’re choosing from above. You can expect to get paid at least £27,000 to £60,000 a year, on average.

Prospects in The U.K.

The average starting salary of a Chartered Accountant in the U.K. is anywhere around £30,000. The average annual salary for experienced full-time professionals easily ranges between £60-85,000. 

This is consistent with the annual salary of an investment banker or Financial Analyst in the U.K. Of course, the salaries are subject to change as per the scale of business, location, and other factors. Corporate finance jobs, for instance, pay more. With increasing remote accounting jobs today, you may even fit a job role that doesn’t require you to commute. 

Higher Education, Research and Development Opportunities

Your Post Graduation need not be the end of your academic career. You can either opt for an MBA in Accounting and Finance or a Ph.D. in the same field – depending on whether you want to go the practical or theoretical way.

If you are not cut out for conventional jobs and research is your calling, don’t worry. Thousands of companies are waiting for financial accounting researchers to study markets and help optimize their business plans.

How to Write an Accounting and Finance Personal Statement?

While your academic records, certificates, and experience do speak for you in the selection process, a personal statement makes you stand out among the herd of achievers that are your competition.

Reviewers mainly look for a business mind-set and drive for economics demonstrated through life experiences and achievements for accounting and finance students. Here’s an outline of how you can get it right: 

  •     Personal Life and Influence: First things first – a ‘personal’ statement should sound personal and not just a report of your achievements. Talk about experiences that enlightened you and inspired your choice to pursue accounting and finance.
  •     Mention A Finance Related Market/Case Study: Demonstrate your practical understanding of accounting and finance by talking about the procedure and conclusions about a case study and how it helped you grow. 
  •     Acquired Skills in Previous Years: Mention the skills you think you have acquired over the years of your academic and professional experience. An experience as a bank clerk, bookkeeper in a local shop, or helping a family business with financial management can really help.
  •     Related Achievements and Accomplishments: Highlight any achievements, certifications, online courses, projects that prove your merit in accounting and finance. The most sought after ones include an ACCA, CFP, CMA, or CPA designation.
  •     Why ABC University: Craft a personalized motive to choose that very university and course among several others.

Final Thoughts

The scope of accounting and finance in the U.K., in a word, is evergreen. It’s a career that will always be valued regardless of what industry, sector, or business you choose. 

It also covers a broad spectrum of professional options. So, whether you are looking for a business career that’s exciting or whether you would like to play it safe and stable in the job market, Accounting and finance will open a suitable door for you. 

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