Finance or Accounting Degree?

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Megamill
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Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Megamill » Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:46 am

Math has always come very easily for DS and he has no interest whatsoever in anything STEM. Anyone have any input on which degree (Finance or Accounting) would offer better future opportunities?

KlangFool
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by KlangFool » Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:54 am

Megamill wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:46 am
Math has always come very easily for DS and he has no interest whatsoever in anything STEM. Anyone have any input on which degree (Finance or Accounting) would offer better future opportunities?
Megamill,

With an accounting degree, you can move into the finance field in the future. But, you cannot go into the accounting area with a finance degree. So, in terms of career opportunity, an undergraduate degree in accounting is better.

KlangFool

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Sandtrap
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:00 am

This can be approached "backwards":

1. Research what jobs are interesting, pay scale, advancement, etc. And, what is available in the locations you might want to have a career.
2. Look at what those employment requirements are.
3. Get those requirements.

A degree in Finance, Accounting, Business, etc, "gets you in the door" to entry level positions.
A graduate degree in the above "gets you farther into the door", and also opens the possibilities to teach if coupled with an Ed. degree.
A CPA degree/certification may be of interest to you.

If math comes naturally to you, also consider Engineering and related fields, etc.

FWIW: in my case, a degree in Business (back in the day) got me entry level mgt. positions in Financial companies. A degree in Accounting got me "back room" auditing, etc, positions. In my case, I found my accounting degree to be more directly applicable to various jobs (useful to the employer/company) and an "easier hire".
However, these experiences motivated me to pursue entrepreneurial business ventures and leave the world of low wages and secure employment. YMMMV.
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AerialWombat
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by AerialWombat » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:09 am

I would suggest accounting, if those are the two options.

Accounting is the “language” of business. Understanding that language will provide your son broader career opportunities. Finance can be easily added on top of the accounting — a minor, grad certificate, Masters, etc. It’s much more difficult to tack accounting on to the finance later in life.

I’ve had a great career in tax law with zero accounting or law background (engineering degree). But “lifehacking” your career in a field you’re not set up for is hard. Very hard. Getting the accounting degree will open the doors to any path he wants to pursue — even data science and other hot to trot jobs of today.
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TxAg
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by TxAg » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:10 am

KlangFool wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:54 am
Megamill wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:46 am
Math has always come very easily for DS and he has no interest whatsoever in anything STEM. Anyone have any input on which degree (Finance or Accounting) would offer better future opportunities?
Megamill,

With an accounting degree, you can move into the finance field in the future. But, you cannot go into the accounting area with a finance degree. So, in terms of career opportunity, an undergraduate degree in accounting is better.

KlangFool
Agreed

financeperchance
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by financeperchance » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:11 am

I know several small business people, and they absolutely depend on their CPAs. For someone like a local car repair shop owner to fire his accountant would require that accountant to REALLY screw up. As long as the accountant is detail-oriented and reliable, it's one of the most recession-proof occupations there is.

Contrast that with people in finance, where there's all kinds of turnover in the investment banks.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by financeperchance » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:15 am

I do want to point out though that the accounting profession is often cited as one of the most at risk from the rise in artificial intelligence over the next several decades. I'm not sure if that's correct or not for people to worry about that, since like I said the local small business owner is an extremely sticky client for CPAs (and they're not about to risk an IRS audit just to save a few bucks by using software), but it's important to be aware of the risk. For example:
https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/ne ... ution.html

KlangFool
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by KlangFool » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:31 am

financeperchance wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:15 am
I do want to point out though that the accounting profession is often cited as one of the most at risk from the rise in artificial intelligence over the next several decades. I'm not sure if that's correct or not for people to worry about that, since like I said the local small business owner is an extremely sticky client for CPAs (and they're not about to risk an IRS audit just to save a few bucks by using software), but it's important to be aware of the risk. For example:
https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/ne ... ution.html
financeperchance,

I disagree with the basic assumptions of

1) Accounting degree = accounting profession.

2) Someone is safe from AI over the next several decades because they are in XYZ profession.

The undergraduate degree in any area is a foundation for someone to go further in the future. I believe the narrative for someone who can be in some profession over several decades will be the exception rather than the norm. The world is changing too fast for that to be true.

KlangFool

financeperchance
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by financeperchance » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:46 am

KlangFool wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:31 am
financeperchance,

I disagree with the basic assumptions of

1) Accounting degree = accounting profession.

2) Someone is safe from AI over the next several decades because they are in XYZ profession.

The undergraduate degree in any area is a foundation for someone to go further in the future. I believe the narrative for someone who can be in some profession over several decades will be the exception rather than the norm. The world is changing too fast for that to be true.

KlangFool
Yeah I think those are good points, and as AerialWombat says, accounting is the language of business. Warren Buffett often says that too.

Well, I think the collective Boglehead wisdom has agreed on an accounting degree!

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Sandtrap
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Oct 05, 2019 12:09 pm

financeperchance wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:46 am
KlangFool wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:31 am
financeperchance,

I disagree with the basic assumptions of

1) Accounting degree = accounting profession.

2) Someone is safe from AI over the next several decades because they are in XYZ profession.

The undergraduate degree in any area is a foundation for someone to go further in the future. I believe the narrative for someone who can be in some profession over several decades will be the exception rather than the norm. The world is changing too fast for that to be true.

KlangFool
Yeah I think those are good points, and as AerialWombat says, accounting is the language of business. Warren Buffett often says that too.

Well, I think the collective Boglehead wisdom has agreed on an accounting degree!
+1
Even in entrepreneurial endeavors, self employment, etc. Accounting knowledge and practices, are priceless.
j
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Golf maniac
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Golf maniac » Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:09 pm

He needs to take a few accounting classes before he commits. Some people love it others not so much. A lot of opportunities with either degree, I didn’t love accounting so I went the finance route. He needs to look at employment trends and see what careers are available and hiring trends. Also, thoughts about location where he wants to reside will impact what opportunities he has after graduation. I will say a math degree has been in big demand with financial institutions that need as many quantitative analysts as they can find.

inbox788
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by inbox788 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:24 pm

Megamill wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:46 am
Math has always come very easily for DS and he has no interest whatsoever in anything STEM. Anyone have any input on which degree (Finance or Accounting) would offer better future opportunities?
IMO, neither. For better future opportunities, get a STEM (or STEAM/STREAM) degree first while take some accounting classes followed by an MBA in finance. Remember the "M" stands for MATH!

https://fnce.wharton.upenn.edu/programs ... criptions/

"Few Business Majors in Top MBAs"
https://www.earnest.com/blog/what-shoul ... et-an-mba/

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:40 pm

Computer science. I look at it as a specialty within math.
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justsomeguy2018
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by justsomeguy2018 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:55 pm

Megamill wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:46 am
Math has always come very easily for DS and he has no interest whatsoever in anything STEM. Anyone have any input on which degree (Finance or Accounting) would offer better future opportunities?
Accounting would probably offer better job stability/opportunities, but Finance probably has a higher ceiling IMO.

One suggestion would be to get the undergrad in accounting, then later do an MBA with finance specialization to move the career further.

vtjon02
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by vtjon02 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:04 pm

Golf maniac wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:09 pm
He needs to take a few accounting classes before he commits. Some people love it others not so much. A lot of opportunities with either degree, I didn’t love accounting so I went the finance route. He needs to look at employment trends and see what careers are available and hiring trends. Also, thoughts about location where he wants to reside will impact what opportunities he has after graduation. I will say a math degree has been in big demand with financial institutions that need as many quantitative analysts as they can find.
This is good advice. Accounting isn’t for everyone though a degree in it is a very good base into a broad variety of careers.

My only concern in your son’s case is that you said he isn’t really interested in STEM. Accountants use numbers but math skills really aren’t that important. What is tested and learned is a systematic set of rules that are very similar to the physical and natural sciences. Also technology, coding and database skills are increasingly necessary in today’s world.

If he really wants to do math he should look into a data science/analysis or actuarial career. Those generally hire students with a lot more hard math skills than those who are just good at calculations.

Don’t get me wrong, having a degree in accounting was the start of my career. And I’m very thankful that I liked it. But it is not for everyone.

financeperchance
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by financeperchance » Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:59 pm

justsomeguy2018 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:55 pm
Megamill wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:46 am
Math has always come very easily for DS and he has no interest whatsoever in anything STEM. Anyone have any input on which degree (Finance or Accounting) would offer better future opportunities?
Accounting would probably offer better job stability/opportunities, but Finance probably has a higher ceiling IMO.

One suggestion would be to get the undergrad in accounting, then later do an MBA with finance specialization to move the career further.
Do keep in mind that OP is a parent. From a parental perspective, the bolded part there is far more important than anything. ;)

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by willthrill81 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:07 pm

Being a business professor, this is in my wheelhouse, so to speak.

I agree with others that an accounting degree is more likely to be financially beneficial in the marketplace. However, I would suggest that your DS consider a double major, perhaps accounting and another discipline such as business analytics (a very hot field right now and will be for many years, perfect for someone who is good at math and almost guaranteed to earn much more starting than an accountant) or international business. Accounting and finance are probably too closely related for it to be worthwhile to major in both, but I've seen many students major in accounting and marketing, for instance, and use the combination to their advantage.

Keep in mind that in order to take the CPA exam, significantly more credit hours are typically needed than what is involved to get a bachelor's in accounting (150 vs. 120), so many students immediately get their master of public accountancy degree in order to get the additional hours needed.

I would highly recommend that the DS get all of his degrees at a college that is AACSB accredited, if in the U.S.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

AZAttorney11
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by AZAttorney11 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:23 pm

Double major. There’s so much overlap with the classes that if a student is torn between those two degrees, just do both.

HomeStretch
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by HomeStretch » Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:39 pm

+1 on the Accounting degree.

If DS wants to go the public accounting/CPA-route, he will need 30 additional credit hours. Schools often combine this into a 5-year program where one earns a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

If DS doesn’t want to go the CPA-route, consider an MBA.

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Megamill
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Megamill » Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:33 am

Lots of really good info from all your posts. Thank you all--it means a lot coming from you all. Consensus appears to be Accounting degree, which is what he had thought to pursue on his own. I thought maybe Finance would be the better route, so I'm glad I asked the question here. I do see him also thriving in data analytics.
willthrill81 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:07 pm
Being a business professor, this is in my wheelhouse, so to speak.

I agree with others that an accounting degree is more likely to be financially beneficial in the marketplace. However, I would suggest that your DS consider a double major, perhaps accounting and another discipline such as business analytics (a very hot field right now and will be for many years, perfect for someone who is good at math and almost guaranteed to earn much more starting than an accountant) or international business. Accounting and finance are probably too closely related for it to be worthwhile to major in both, but I've seen many students major in accounting and marketing, for instance, and use the combination to their advantage.

Keep in mind that in order to take the CPA exam, significantly more credit hours are typically needed than what is involved to get a bachelor's in accounting (150 vs. 120), so many students immediately get their master of public accountancy degree in order to get the additional hours needed.

I would highly recommend that the DS get all of his degrees at a college that is AACSB accredited, if in the U.S.
The small private college that's close to home where he's been accepted and offers a very generous merit scholarship appears to be "HLC" (Higher Learning Commission) accredited. Is that any good for Accounting?

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by willthrill81 » Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:32 am

Megamill wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:33 am
Lots of really good info from all your posts. Thank you all--it means a lot coming from you all. Consensus appears to be Accounting degree, which is what he had thought to pursue on his own. I thought maybe Finance would be the better route, so I'm glad I asked the question here. I do see him also thriving in data analytics.
willthrill81 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:07 pm
Being a business professor, this is in my wheelhouse, so to speak.

I agree with others that an accounting degree is more likely to be financially beneficial in the marketplace. However, I would suggest that your DS consider a double major, perhaps accounting and another discipline such as business analytics (a very hot field right now and will be for many years, perfect for someone who is good at math and almost guaranteed to earn much more starting than an accountant) or international business. Accounting and finance are probably too closely related for it to be worthwhile to major in both, but I've seen many students major in accounting and marketing, for instance, and use the combination to their advantage.

Keep in mind that in order to take the CPA exam, significantly more credit hours are typically needed than what is involved to get a bachelor's in accounting (150 vs. 120), so many students immediately get their master of public accountancy degree in order to get the additional hours needed.

I would highly recommend that the DS get all of his degrees at a college that is AACSB accredited, if in the U.S.
The small private college that's close to home where he's been accepted and offers a very generous merit scholarship appears to be "HLC" (Higher Learning Commission) accredited. Is that any good for Accounting?
It's not bad but not great. The entire university should be accredited, but the business program should, in most cases, have its own separate accreditation as well. There are a few notable exceptions, like Harvard not having any accreditation at all, but most universities need accreditation. HLC is one of the bigger regional accrediting bodies, but this does not say much of anything about the quality and rigor of the business program. What might be best is to send him to the small private college for the first two years and then send him to another university whose business program is both accredited by AACSB and has a strong accounting major along with an analytics major.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

petulant
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by petulant » Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:40 am

My recommendation between accounting and finance is accounting, then to make sure to get enough hours/credentials to take the CPA exam as willthrill recommends. I would take some additional electives in higher math so that if he wants to get an MFS or analytics degree in the future, he has a firm foundation.

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Megamill
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Megamill » Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:59 am

The other option (which was "plan A") is for DS to attend one of our state's (public) cc (also small and close to home--he wants to save $ by commuting rather than live on campus) for the first 2 years which he can then guarantee transfer to the local "parent" state (public) 4 year U to finish off the Accounting degree. This 4 year university appears to be AACSB accredited. There are a few things about the smaller private U that appeal to me and DH:
1. Smaller overall campus but tons of student activites, sports, clubs, etc.
2. Smaller class sizes and all taught by professors (no teaching assistants whatsoever)
3. Generous (renewable) academic scholarships bring the cost down to the public U rate.
4. DS would not have to go through the hassle of transferring from small cc to huge public U

We never thought about the accreditation so this makes me think we should have a fresh review of plan A.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by willthrill81 » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:05 am

Megamill wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:59 am
The other option (which was "plan A") is for DS to attend one of our state's (public) cc (also small and close to home--he wants to save $ by commuting rather than live on campus) for the first 2 years which he can then guarantee transfer to the local "parent" state (public) 4 year U to finish off the Accounting degree. This 4 year university appears to be AACSB accredited. There are a few things about the smaller private U that appeal to me and DH:
1. Smaller overall campus but tons of student activites, sports, clubs, etc.
2. Smaller class sizes and all taught by professors (no teaching assistants whatsoever)
3. Generous (renewable) academic scholarships bring the cost down to the public U rate.
4. DS would not have to go through the hassle of transferring from small cc to huge public U

We never thought about the accreditation so this makes me think we should have a fresh review of plan A.
Financially, starting at a less costly university and then transferring to the one where the degree will be granted can greatly reduce costs. In this instance, it may also serve as a good transition for your DS.

The transfer process is not at all difficult in most situations, and most students adjust quickly. Just be sure that all of the courses that he takes at the private university will transfer to the public university. Speaking with someone at the public university who deals with transfer credits (we have a team that does nothing but this) will go a long way toward assuring this. Private religious universities often require courses that will not transfer to public universities.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

msk
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by msk » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:11 am

From the perspective of HR in a Fortune 10, the most critical part is being a properly certified CPA that can sign off company accounts, e.g. of subsidiaries or even medium sized individual companies. How he gets there, or whether he loves or hates accounting is irrelevant. I have a daughter with an MBA who has the earning capacity of an engineer and another daughter who had a BCom. The latter hated accounting but did become a CPA becuase corporate policies blocked her from upper financial management without being a CPA. So she became a CPA, resigned and became a Finance Director of a smaller company at about $200k. Get the DS to get the CPA certification, regardless of how he gets there, be it Finance, Accounting, Chemistry or any absurd initial degree major.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Megamill » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:21 am

willthrill81, actually I'm thinking we revert back to plan A completely, which is first 2 years at the (public) cc, which when he starts out, his advisor will help him to select the right courses to ensure that all credits will x-fer over to the 4 year U. (This state U program allows students to attend the cc campus for years 1 and 2 as if they were attending the larger, more expensive 4 year campus.) The first 2 years at cc will be half the cost of 2 years at the small private U (even after discount from private U scholarships). Point being, if it would be in his best interest to transfer after the first 2 years so that he graduates from the U that is AACSB accredited, it would be best for him to start out at the public cc, rather than the private U. Plan A is what we had agreed on, but then we went on a tour of the small private U and were so "captivated" by it.

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Megamill
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Megamill » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:25 am

msk wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:11 am
From the perspective of HR in a Fortune 10, the most critical part is being a properly certified CPA that can sign off company accounts, e.g. of subsidiaries or even medium sized individual companies. How he gets there, or whether he loves or hates accounting is irrelevant. I have a daughter with an MBA who has the earning capacity of an engineer and another daughter who had a BCom. The latter hated accounting but did become a CPA becuase corporate policies blocked her from upper financial management without being a CPA. So she became a CPA, resigned and became a Finance Director of a smaller company at about $200k. Get the DS to get the CPA certification, regardless of how he gets there, be it Finance, Accounting, Chemistry or any absurd initial degree major.
Good to know! Very interesting.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by gch » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:32 am

It really depends what he wants to do.

The pros are finance is it’s much easier to get into specialized fields like trading, commercial/investment banking, etc. but the downside is only the very best get into those so it’s much harder for the average student to get a good paying job with just a general finance degree.

Accounting is going to virtually guarantee you a job out of school, but none are going to pay close to as much as the upper finance students in those specialty jobs.

As someone who loves math (got a math and finance degree), I did not enjoy accounting as it’s not really math, so your son may feel the same way.

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Megamill
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Megamill » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:37 am

gch wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:32 am
It really depends what he wants to do.

The pros are finance is it’s much easier to get into specialized fields like trading, commercial/investment banking, etc. but the downside is only the very best get into those so it’s much harder for the average student to get a good paying job with just a general finance degree.

Accounting is going to virtually guarantee you a job out of school, but none are going to pay close to as much as the upper finance students in those specialty jobs.

As someone who loves math (got a math and finance degree), I did not enjoy accounting as it’s not really math, so your son may feel the same way.
When you say "only the very best get into those...", do you mean the graduates that are top of their class (regardless of school), or do you mean top graduates from Ivy league, Big 10, etc schools?

gch
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by gch » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:50 am

Megamill wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:37 am
When you say "only the very best get into those...", do you mean the graduates that are top of their class (regardless of school), or do you mean top graduates from Ivy league, Big 10, etc schools?
Mostly regardless of school. I did not go to a top school but work in commodity trading, and I know a number of traders that went to state schools as well. IB is probably more selective in looking at Ivy League types, but I know people in IB that went to state schools. The biggest thing a student can do that wants to get into one of these fields is start early with the schools career help group to get an internship in that field.

Valuethinker
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:05 am

Megamill wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:37 am
gch wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:32 am
It really depends what he wants to do.

The pros are finance is it’s much easier to get into specialized fields like trading, commercial/investment banking, etc. but the downside is only the very best get into those so it’s much harder for the average student to get a good paying job with just a general finance degree.

Accounting is going to virtually guarantee you a job out of school, but none are going to pay close to as much as the upper finance students in those specialty jobs.

As someone who loves math (got a math and finance degree), I did not enjoy accounting as it’s not really math, so your son may feel the same way.
When you say "only the very best get into those...", do you mean the graduates that are top of their class (regardless of school), or do you mean top graduates from Ivy league, Big 10, etc schools?
MBA schools look at 3 things, basically:

- grades in undergrad (GPA)
- GMAT score
- career achievements to date (including extra curricular if excelled e.g. head of varsity team etc. - one CV we saw was of a former (American CFL) football player)
- (4th is the application itself, how seriously it was worked on & customised. Also what referees provide and who were the referees)

Because undergrad universities vary so much in grading practices, I would say GPA is the least of these. Decent grades from tough majors like engineering or math are more preferred, but it really does depend.

The main thing about "prestige" undergrad business schools like UVA, Penn (Wharton) etc. is that a certain class of investment bank and consulting firm tend to recruit their summer interns (and thus their full time students) from those schools (as well as from "elite" colleges with any major). There is a book "Recruiting Elites" which goes through some of the touchstones (rugby, rowing (crew), lacrosse are favoured varsity sports, for example).

Even at those schools only the top half of the class is in the running to be even interviewed.

Trading side of investment banks is definitely less elitist (in terms of colleges of undergrads) than the advisory (corporate finance) side.

This all from a European perspective but having done consulting work in American investment banks.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:11 am, edited 3 times in total.

Valuethinker
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:10 am

gch wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:32 am
It really depends what he wants to do.

The pros are finance is it’s much easier to get into specialized fields like trading, commercial/investment banking, etc. but the downside is only the very best get into those so it’s much harder for the average student to get a good paying job with just a general finance degree.

Accounting is going to virtually guarantee you a job out of school, but none are going to pay close to as much as the upper finance students in those specialty jobs.

As someone who loves math (got a math and finance degree), I did not enjoy accounting as it’s not really math, so your son may feel the same way.
I think this is a good summary.

If someone does not like accounting, they do not like accounting. I saw plenty of people graduate from my undergrad commerce class, became audit trainees because that was the default option for my programme, and just never qualified. This was 30+ years ago, mind.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by KlangFool » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:21 am

gch wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:50 am
Megamill wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:37 am
When you say "only the very best get into those...", do you mean the graduates that are top of their class (regardless of school), or do you mean top graduates from Ivy league, Big 10, etc schools?
Mostly regardless of school. I did not go to a top school but work in commodity trading, and I know a number of traders that went to state schools as well. IB is probably more selective in looking at Ivy League types, but I know people in IB that went to state schools. The biggest thing a student can do that wants to get into one of these fields is start early with the schools career help group to get an internship in that field.
gch,

To complete your post, did you work in commodity trading with only an undergraduate degree in finance? Or you have an MBA too?

KlangFool

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Tamarind » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:32 am

Accounting, rather than finance, IMO. It's a pretty flexible degree that can end with someone working in accounting, finance, general business, IT, etc. Maybe suggest he look into taking some higher level finance, business analysis, or information systems classes while he's there as it might spark an interest.

From my anecdotal experience, a master's is not necessary to get a good job in the field. It might accelerate his progress if he decided to go for a CPA, but not required. The MBAs I've met have learned a lot from their programs but received little or no ROI in terms of salary. This may be because they took the MBA very early or as part of a career pivot and didn't actually have a lot of years of experience in business.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by SQRT » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:45 am

I got a CPA then went back to school part time to get an MBA(Finance). That order probably made the most sense. If I could only have one degree, it would have been the CPA I think. Then later on I also got a CFA in order to cover another aspect (investment management). I would recommend getting the most relevant education you can.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by HomeStretch » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:03 am

If DS chooses accounting as a major, it’s important IMO to have a CPA or a Masters/MBA if he wants to go the public accounting route or to be part of the accounting team in a publicly-held company. For the latter, the company may require/strongly desire that the educational background of accounting personnel include either a CPA or masters/MBA as part of the company’s Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance. A long relevant work history for older candidates may also satisfy such employers. But anyone just starting out in the field should plan on the CPA/graduate degree for maximum career opportunity.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Clarice » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:39 am

Megamill wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:46 am
Math has always come very easily for DS and he has no interest whatsoever in anything STEM. Anyone have any input on which degree (Finance or Accounting) would offer better future opportunities?
I have both. ~5 additional classes. Get to stay in college longer. :sharebeer

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by MichCPA » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:42 am

AZAttorney11 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:23 pm
Double major. There’s so much overlap with the classes that if a student is torn between those two degrees, just do both.
+1, Look at the overlapping degree requirements and see what it would take to double. Honestly, this is likely to help in both fields.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:42 am

Megamill wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:21 am
willthrill81, actually I'm thinking we revert back to plan A completely, which is first 2 years at the (public) cc, which when he starts out, his advisor will help him to select the right courses to ensure that all credits will x-fer over to the 4 year U. (This state U program allows students to attend the cc campus for years 1 and 2 as if they were attending the larger, more expensive 4 year campus.) The first 2 years at cc will be half the cost of 2 years at the small private U (even after discount from private U scholarships). Point being, if it would be in his best interest to transfer after the first 2 years so that he graduates from the U that is AACSB accredited, it would be best for him to start out at the public cc, rather than the private U. Plan A is what we had agreed on, but then we went on a tour of the small private U and were so "captivated" by it.
That sounds like a good plan, one that kills two birds with one stone: reduced expense and a better degree.

By the way, research has shown that the aesthetics of a university campus are the single biggest factor influencing students' (and parents') choice of which university to attend.
gch wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:32 am
As someone who loves math (got a math and finance degree), I did not enjoy accounting as it’s not really math, so your son may feel the same way.
Yes, finance is definitely more math intensive than accounting.
gch wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:50 am
The biggest thing a student can do that wants to get into one of these fields is start early with the schools career help group to get an internship in that field.
:thumbsup Multiple internships can be extremely valuable in getting your foot (or more) into the door in many fields.
Last edited by willthrill81 on Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by sthadani » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:46 am

KlangFool wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:54 am
Megamill wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:46 am
Math has always come very easily for DS and he has no interest whatsoever in anything STEM. Anyone have any input on which degree (Finance or Accounting) would offer better future opportunities?
Megamill,

With an accounting degree, you can move into the finance field in the future. But, you cannot go into the accounting area with a finance degree. So, in terms of career opportunity, an undergraduate degree in accounting is better.

KlangFool
I also agree with this. I have a Finance degree and work as an accountant for a mfg. company but don't have the educational background (public accounting, CPA etc.) to really make some big moves. Knowing what I know now, I would have pursued an Accounting focus in school. Many managers in my company started as external auditors, got hired as internal auditors and then moved their way up.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:49 am

Tamarind wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:32 am
From my anecdotal experience, a master's is not necessary to get a good job in the field. It might accelerate his progress if he decided to go for a CPA, but not required. The MBAs I've met have learned a lot from their programs but received little or no ROI in terms of salary. This may be because they took the MBA very early or as part of a career pivot and didn't actually have a lot of years of experience in business.
I wrote this earlier this year about MBAs, and it seems germane to this discussion.
willthrill81 wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:54 pm
Having taught in multiple MBA programs myself and being in on many conversations on both sides of the fence, I can tell you that there are only three types of MBA that still have significant added value for a large proportion of those get them: (1) an executive MBA from a solid program, (2) a 'general' MBA from one of the top B-schools, and (3) a specialized MBA.

Executive MBA programs at good B-schools really can improve students' knowledge and skills in the workplace, and networking is a huge benefit as well. Be prepared to cough up at least $70k for a good one.

A general MBA from a top B-school still tends to carry significant weight in many, perhaps even most, industries. Networking is a big feature here as well. The cost can be obscenely high though, easily $200k.

A specialized MBA that focuses on a relatively new, 'hot' area can provide students with both good skills and connections in a niche area, where the connections tend to count the most, and may be valuable to many companies interested in expanding into the new area, although this added value can degrade rather quickly if the industry quickly moves past that area or it becomes saturated with similar graduates.

A general MBA from a typical university is, in my experience, not usually very helpful from a career perspective, although you can find many instances where they were. Mine was useful to me simply because it showed me that I wanted to continue my education in a different direction, and that new direction completely overhauled my career for the better.

YMMV.
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Supurdueper » Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:16 am

Fellow CPA here. Accountants play with real numbers, finance plays with fake numbers. :D

I’m biased and would say accounting, it’s easier to go into finance if one has a mid life crisis, more challenging the other way. Although to throw an alternative, the way the world is changing I’d highly recommend some type of MIS minor or focus. If he could interpret code and understand relational databases he will excel at a larger company.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Tamarind » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:08 pm

Supurdueper wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:16 am
Although to throw an alternative, the way the world is changing I’d highly recommend some type of MIS minor or focus. If he could interpret code and understand relational databases he will excel at a larger company.
I'd state this even more strongly: comprehending relational databases and being able to adapt to ERP software is a hard requirement for anyone considering a career in accounting today. Many of the routine tasks one used to need an accountant for are being automated by accounting systems. What will be left is data entry on the low end (AP/AR clerks) and the most value-added analysis and judgement on the high end. The staff accountant without a CPA is an endangered species even at very small companies.

However, an accounting degree can still have value in fields that are not strictly accounting.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by gch » Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:32 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:21 am
gch,

To complete your post, did you work in commodity trading with only an undergraduate degree in finance? Or you have an MBA too?

KlangFool
I have an undergrad in finance and another in math. I worked for a few years out of undergrad in more of a general finance role for a physical energy company and with good reviews moved into their commercial trading group as an entry level analyst.

If someone is looking at going straight into a trading shop I would advise looking at Penn State’s finance program and Texas A&M (energy focused) TRIP program. Although I did not attend either, both are well respected, along with your normal bevy of top tier private schools.

https://mays.tamu.edu/department-of-fin ... -overview/

https://www.smeal.psu.edu/traderoom

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by KlangFool » Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:34 pm

gch wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:32 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:21 am
gch,

To complete your post, did you work in commodity trading with only an undergraduate degree in finance? Or you have an MBA too?

KlangFool
I have an undergrad in finance and another in math. I worked for a few years out of undergrad in more of a general finance role for a physical energy company and with good reviews moved into their commercial trading group as an entry level analyst.

If someone is looking at going straight into a trading shop I would advise looking at Penn State’s finance program and Texas A&M (energy focused) TRIP program. Although I did not attend either, both are well respected, along with your normal bevy of top tier private schools.

https://mays.tamu.edu/department-of-fin ... -overview/

https://www.smeal.psu.edu/traderoom
Thank you for the additional details.

KlangFool

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by abuss368 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:10 pm

I’m a CPA. Get the accounting degree and your CPA. Much more value and marketability than a MBA. Always in demand with great earning potential.
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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by LearningAlot » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:35 am

I worked 35 years for a large corporation in various roles supporting manufacturing. Had numerous promotions.
My education was undergrad in accounting, masters of science in accounting, and a CPA. I took as many finance
courses as I could in my undergrad and masters programs and most of my continuing education while working
was in finance.

My bottom line is, they are both very important if you want to advance.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by Thorsbane » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:01 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:07 pm
...

Keep in mind that in order to take the CPA exam, significantly more credit hours are typically needed than what is involved to get a bachelor's in accounting (150 vs. 120), so many students immediately get their master of public accountancy degree in order to get the additional hours needed.

I would highly recommend that the DS get all of his degrees at a college that is AACSB accredited, if in the U.S.
The requirements to obtain a CPA credential varies by state. Some allow 120 and practical experience as qualification. There are plenty of folks out of undergrad who are going straight to the firms.

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by willthrill81 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:14 am

Thorsbane wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:01 am
willthrill81 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:07 pm
...

Keep in mind that in order to take the CPA exam, significantly more credit hours are typically needed than what is involved to get a bachelor's in accounting (150 vs. 120), so many students immediately get their master of public accountancy degree in order to get the additional hours needed.

I would highly recommend that the DS get all of his degrees at a college that is AACSB accredited, if in the U.S.
The requirements to obtain a CPA credential varies by state. Some allow 120 and practical experience as qualification. There are plenty of folks out of undergrad who are going straight to the firms.
Accounting is not my area, so I was not personally familiar with any states that were satisfied with 120 credit hours. All of those I've had experience with require 150.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Finance or Accounting Degree?

Post by FrugalConservative » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:04 am

Accounting major with a finance minor.

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