Finance and accounting are closely related subjects. But they’re not the same thing.
What finance and accounting have in common
Both subjects look at financial transactions inside and between organisations. Both require you to be highly numerate and have a good understanding of how business works. You also need to be a good communicator, to share your information and persuade others of the soundness of your recommendations.
How finance and accounting differ
Accountants tend to focus on the past and the present. Their role is to manage and report on the day-to-day (and year-to-year) finances inside an organisation. Theirs is a more practical role, rooted in the actual performance of the business.
Accountants are in charge of recording transactions, reviewing performance against budget and forecast, analysing, reporting and producing financial statements and making tax returns.
Finance managers use financial reports and their own theoretical knowledge to advise companies on the planning and strategy of their finances. They look at current information to predict the future and take a more theoretical approach. That can mean considering entire capital markets rather than single organisations. They manage assets, investments and liabilities.
Skills and knowledge required for finance and accounting
Whichever path you choose you’ll need a good understanding of financial industry practice and principles and an appreciation of business and industry.
Accountants require a specialist knowledge of accounting techniques and regulations and must take professional exams plus on-the-job training to qualify. Finance professionals entering banking will also need practical experience before achieving their qualifications.
You can read more about the skills required and the career paths open to you here:
How to decide between accounting and finance
If you know that you’re interested in working on the numerical side of business but you’re not sure where your skills lie, consider a degree in accounting and finance, such as the Business School (formerly Cass) degree. It will allow you to explore both options.
Look for a degree where you get exposure to practitioners of both disciplines and where you can choose your focus as your understanding develops. Whichever route you choose, you can look forward to a rewarding and interesting career at the very heart of business.