A degree in accountancy and finance can open many doors for graduates. Gaining a baseline understanding of the financial transaction and the economic side of business will ensure you have the transferable skills to work in any job related to finance.

But careers in this field go far beyond accounting graduates. People from all different STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) backgrounds work in the area of accounting and finance.

How to get into accounting and finance

Known by many as a ‘career for life’, accountancy is the communication and processing of financial information and transactions within a business or corporation. It involves the report, analysis and presentation of economic activity to the company, to maintain balance and avoid any future problems.

There are two main paths to take in accountancy, either you work for an accountancy practice where you have a caseload of different clients, from self-employed individuals to large businesses, or you can work as an in-house accountant for a business. In 2018 there were over 320,000 accountants registered with a professional body in the UK and over 5,500 accountancy firms. If you want to study for a degree that guarantees a career path and opportunity for direct professional experience, accountancy and finance might be for you.

There are a few different varieties of accounting and finance degrees on offer around the UK. At some institutions, you can choose to take a single course known as ‘BA Accounting and Finance’, or you could study either part separately. Many universities also offer the opportunity to do a joint honours degree in accounting and finance with subjects such as economics and maths.

Many people work in accounting who do not have a formal degree in accountancy. It’s very common to have an undergraduate degree in Maths or Statistics and then go on to do further training in accountancy.

There are also opportunities to study a Level 7 Degree Apprenticeship in this area. For example, there are Apprenticeship Standards in Accountancy and Taxation Professional, Financial Services Professional, and Internal Audit Professional.

Careers in Accounting and Finance

There are many jobs which could come under the heading of ‘accounting’ which might not look like a traditional finance role. People from all kinds of backgrounds, outside of the sciences, can work in accounting roles. Lots of organisations focus on your skills and work ethic rather than your qualifications.

The primary transferable skills you need to work in accounting and finance are:

  • Numerical and quantitative skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Negotiation
  • Oral and written communication
  • Knowledge of global business and relevant organisations

These skills can be learnt and developed in a variety of ways, in different degree subjects and work roles. They can take you into a variety of jobs under the label of ‘accountancy and finance’. Some of the most popular positions include:

  • Accounting Technician: In this role, you are the person who prepares the financial information and data for professional accountants or businesses managers to use when making decisions about the business. This includes gathering and analysing data, processing invoices and payments and bookkeeping.
  • Chartered accountant: These are the experts in the field and offer high-quality, prestigious advice and trustworthy information to businesses about finance. You need a postgraduate qualification and experience with a chartered mentor for this role.
  • Investment banker: These people are concerned with increasing the capital of a business, organisation or government. They facilitate large transactions and assess the potential benefits and risks of investing.
  • Tax adviser: An expert who has trained in tax law. They offer advice and consultancy to businesses and individuals about tax legislation so they can make informed choices regarding the continuously changing tax laws.
  • Retail banker: They help individuals manage their money, offer financial advice and services such as loans, transactions, accounts and bonds. This work usually occurs in a local bank branch.
  • Economist: This is a role in the social science field of economics. There is a variety of roles and responsibilities including economic research and writing, analysis of data, monitoring economic trends etc.

Graduate programmes

Many businesses in the private sector offer graduate programmes. These are not exclusively for accounting graduates, and many other graduates go down this route. Some of the leading providers of these graduate programmes include KMPG, PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Barclays, J.P Morgan. These are just a few examples, and there are many more.

Graduate Accounting consultancy at KMPG

  • Support large clients to overcome the financial difficulty of the current climate by adding value to areas such as risk regulation, cyber and technology consultancy and strategy. You apply fresh thinking and problem solving to provide the best possible financial outcomes for clients. As a structured graduate programme, the time will be divided between client experience and training and support, to best prepare you for the role of accounting consultancy.

Graduate training programme with Barclays

All graduates begin on the Initial Training Programme (ITP) where you will train your businesses-specific and professional skills to understand financial concepts and markets. You will then gain hands-on experience in many of the different roles throughout Barclays, applying your knowledge and problem-solving skills from day one. Your dedicated career coach will help develop a career plan and progression that is right for your skills.