Q&A: what can I do with an accounting and finance degree?

Updated 24 July 2023

If you're a recent graduate or are planning to enter university to begin your degree course, you may ask yourself, 'what can I do with an accounting and finance degree?'. There are many career paths directly related to your particular degree, but it's also valuable for a wide range of jobs. Some roles require collaboration with other finance experts, others require working with clients. In this article, we explore some of the job opportunities available and the primary duties involved.

What can I do with an accounting and finance degree?

It's important to consider the different career paths that are open to those with this qualification. There are also many finance-related roles in other industries because all businesses require someone to manage their finances. There are several roles for these graduates, and many positions in the finance sector offer attractively lucrative salaries. Here is a list of 15 common roles to answer the question of 'what can I do with an accounting and finance degree', to help you in your job search:

1. Chartered accountant

National average salary: £34,945 per year

Primary duties: A chartered accountant monitors a client's income and expenditure, audits accounts and prepares financial statements and reports. Chartered accountants may also advise clients on investments, tax planning and business transactions such as mergers and acquisitions. A chartered accountant can work for multinational corporate companies, SMEs, public companies and non-profit organisations.

Related: How to become a chartered accountant

2. Tax accountant

National average salary: £43,220 per year

Primary duties: Tax accountants ensure that individuals and businesses pay the appropriate amount of tax at the right time. They also advise their clients of any legitimate opportunities for tax savings. Tax laws are complex and often change. Therefore, it's essential that a tax accountant has a comprehensive knowledge of these laws, stays up to date with any changes made and provide advice to clients accordingly.

Related: How to become a tax accountant

3. Chief financial officer

National average salary: £121,522 per year

Primary duties: A chief financial officer (CFO) is the senior-level executive who oversees a company's financial operations. CFOs can organise a company's budget to ensure the effective use of funds, recommend new technology infrastructure that can enhance financial operations and monitor a company's activities to ensure it remains financially healthy. A CFO is generally the head of a company's finance department, supervising and guiding finance staff.

4. Financial advisor

National average salary: £37,729 per year

Primary duties: A financial advisor's job is to provide people and companies with financial advice, including advice on savings, investment opportunities, pensions, insurance products and stock market trading. Financial advisors help their clients to manage their finances and develop strategies to help them achieve their financial goals.

Related: How to become a financial advisor: the complete guide

5. Investment analyst

National average salary: £44,411 per year

Primary duties: Investment analysts evaluate potential investments and recommend those with promising returns to clients. They also ensure that all investments follow the applicable regulations. Investment analysts can also examine new business opportunities that are likely to be financially beneficial for their clients.

6. Economist

National average salary: £44,044 per year

Primary duties: An economist evaluates the cost and distribution of a company's resources. They also research market trends and submit reports. They also determine the cost of materials and services a company plans to purchase in the future and make recommendations about reducing expenses and maximising efficiency. Economists generally work with corporations, academic organisations and government agencies.

7. Risk manager

National average salary: £50,962 per year

Primary duties: A risk manager analyses an employer's financial activity and identifies potential risks. Risk managers can formulate contingency plans in response to possible risks that may occur. They also develop strategies for loss recovery and recommend insurance plans that can help secure company finances.

8. Senior financial analyst

National average salary: £48,960 per year

Primary duties: A senior financial analyst determines the state of a company's finances by analysing its data. They suggest ways to improve the company's financial standing, which may involve collaborating with other senior executives to develop new company policies, organising the company's budget and assisting with completing transactions such as mergers and acquisitions.

9. Equity analyst

National average salary: £64,905 per year

Primary duties: An equity analyst evaluates company stock to determine its potential value. An equity analyst's job can involve researching the behaviour patterns of a particular stock in the stock market, creating projections on how it might perform in future and using this research to recommend the optimum time to buy or sell stock. An equity analyst may work at a stock brokerage or financial business that provides investment advice.

10. Financial planning and analysis manager

National average salary: £62,089 per year

Primary duties: A financial planning and analysis manager's role is to identify ways to improve both its operations and its financial status. This can include analysis of existing financial processes to determine their effectiveness, short-term cash flow analysis, business forecasting and the development of new systems and procedures to enhance operations. They can also report a company's financial projections to executives and shareholders.

Related: 55 FP&A interview questions with sample answers for practice

11. Hedge fund analyst

National average salary: £87,774 per year

Primary duties: A hedge fund analyst researches the assets of hedge funds to determine which may be beneficial to trade. They can research individual securities and markets to identify their behaviour trends. They report their findings to trading teams who manage portfolios to enable them to identify new investment opportunities that may be beneficial to both the hedge fund and its shareholders.

12. Finance manager

National average salary: £43,368 per year

Primary duties: A finance manager develops strategies to help a company manage its finances and maintain a healthy financial standing. A finance manager prepares financial reports to ensure the company complies with industry standards and regulations, analyses financial data to find ways a company can improve its financial activities and develop and implement new strategies. A finance manager can also recommend investment opportunities.

Related: 10 essential finance manager skills

13. Financial controller

National average salary: £55,275 per year

Primary duties: A financial controller leads a company's accounting department. Financial controllers oversee accounting operations and procedures to ensure efficiency and develop new policies to improve accounting operations. A financial controller can establish bank accounts for a company and subsidies or departments within a company. A financial controller can also review recorded financial data to verify its accuracy and comply with formatting requirements.

14. Business analyst

National average salary: £42,363 per year

Primary duties: A business analyst helps businesses to improve their processes, software, products and services. Business analysts may also assist in enhancing a company's profitability. They may analyse IT systems and the business side of operations to determine risks and offer potential solutions. They may also develop and monitor data quality metrics, ensuring that all departments report and store their data appropriately.

15. Mortgage advisor

National average salary: £36,238 per year

Primary duties: A mortgage adviser assists clients in finding and selecting appropriate mortgage deals. They review a client's financial situation, advise on ways to improve their chances of approval, advise the client regarding mortgage repayment and select appropriate deals that match their particular circumstances. They then submit the required paperwork for approval.

Making an accounting and finance degree stand out

Apart from studying for your degree, it's also essential to gain some work experience. Your degree course may include a work placement, but if not, you could gain practical experience through an apprenticeship, a period of job shadowing or a stint of part-time work. This shows potential employers that you have relevant experience along with your degree qualification. All finance jobs require excellent data analysis and mathematics skills, which are skills you can hone during your practical experience.

Related: Applying for jobs with a Master's in Finance (with careers)

Who hires accounting and finance graduates?

The leading recruiters are multinational accountancy businesses. They design extensive recruitment campaigns to attract the most promising graduates, and their minimum skills requirements are high. There are also opportunities for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in almost every industry and sector.

Related: What companies are in the finance field? (With descriptions)

What's the difference between an accountant and a chartered accountant?

An accountant is not a protected job title, and it's not necessary to have specific qualifications for this role. A chartered accountant has gained recognised accounting qualifications and achieved the specific professional accreditation of chartered status. A chartered accountant is also a member of a professional body such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and the candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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