You may be familiar with the gasp you receive when you tell someone you’re studying Accounting and Finance (AcF) at university, well you’re not alone. If I was easily swayed I would have definitely been put off studying AcF, because the responses I got from literally everyone were far from encouraging. The following are examples of misconceptions that people have about AcF that infuriate AcF students because they really aren’t the case or are exaggerated:
- Oh you’re going to hate it, it’s incredibly boring!
Contrary to popular belief, accounting is in fact not boring, it just isn’t for everyone. One individual expressing that they find accounting boring doesn’t mean you will too. Everyone has different passions in life, so don’t be discouraged if people don’t understand what interests you about accounting. Accounting is a well-respected study and profession that many choose to dedicate their entire careers to and there are many different aspects to accounting that people are not aware of; in fact, accounting is pivotal to all types of businesses from the fashion and beauty industry to the automotive industry. Accounting is also a very diverse field of work, the main areas are: Public accounting, Corporate accounting, Corporate Finance and Investment Banking, so you can decide which field to focus on later in your career.
- Are you sure? It’s really difficult you know!
Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) is typically ranked in the UK’s top four and is one of the world’s highly ranked management and business schools. It is true that accounting is challenging, especially at a top ten university like Lancaster University. However, the whole purpose of university is to challenge yourself and to develop both academic and social skills. I’m sure as a university student you are not the type of person that runs away from a challenge. Challenges are good, although they definitely don’t feel like it in the moment, they force us to dig deep into our true abilities and potentials. Also if accounting is truly a subject you enjoy, you wouldn’t find it too hard to persevere during the difficult periods. It’s much easier to revise and do the work when you are actually interested, rather than making yourself endure something you don’t enjoy.
- Wow, you must really love maths!
From my experience, mathematics didn’t play such a huge role in first year AcF, Econ102 was the only module that I had that contained a particular focus on maths and for someone like me that studied maths at A-level it was quite similar. Personally, I actually really enjoy maths and always have so AcF containing more maths wouldn’t be a problem for me. I would definitely say having maths A-level has helped but is definitely not essential, I know many people that have succeeded in first year AcF and in their overall AcF degree having only studied maths up to secondary school (GCSE’s). Mathematics, similar to AcF is a subject that people tend to demonise because of its complexity, but like I said earlier everything isn’t for everyone and that’s the joy of life.
- Oh, you must love money, you’re going to be rich!
The average earning potential of a Chartered Accountant in the UK with two years of experience is £47,900 plus bonuses according to a 2014 salary survey by Stott and May. Most people think the sole goal of someone that studies AcF is to become rich, this might be true for some people but not all. To play devil’s advocate, even if it was true of all AcF students, there is nothing wrong with striving to be rich or successful. Most people dream of being well off and living comfortably. People don’t go to university solely for acquiring knowledge but also to gain skills and qualifications that are highly valued by employers and will in turn earn them a good living. The financial sacrifice made to attend university alone (Student loans, cost of relocation, text books) is enough to understand why someone would want a high paying salary after graduating but also the time sacrificed in education. Most people have the goal of being able to provide for themselves and their future families, but for some reason doing this by working as an accountant is deemed to be money hungry. Also having an AcF degree doesn’t guarantee you a job or a high paying job at that, as employers are looking for more than academic excellence. Apart from a degree qualification (2:1minimum), employers these days also want soft skills such as; communication skills, teamwork and collaboration, adaptability, problem solving. It is also a very competitive field which makes getting a job harder.
- Oh so you’re going to be an accountant!
I’m sure we all know by now that having an AcF degree does not make you a qualified accountant, neither does it mean you will actually even go on to become an accountant. The typical path to becoming an accountant is to get a bachelor’s degree in accounting, then take a higher level qualification to become a chartered accountant. However, it’s not compulsory to have a degree in accountancy; there are a range of different paths you can take to become an accountant. The AAT qualification is the minimal level of qualification required for most kinds of accountancy. You can then choose to take higher level qualifications like the ACA, ACCA or CIMA, which will allow you to become a chartered accountant. Major professional service companies such as Deloitte employ individuals with all types of degrees on training contracts and then sponsor their training to become a Chartered accountant.