Let us go back to 22 May 2013, approximately 16:38 Hong Kong time; this is the time when I put my pen down and marked the end of my last exam for my BBA Accounting & Finance degree from The University of Hong Kong. This was surely a time to remember after three years of solid hard work that ranged from debiting and crediting financial statement items to planning numerous presentations for the business world.
But as I think about it now, despite learning all the different investment options available in financial markets, one of the biggest investments in my life has been the time, money and effort I devoted to my undergraduate life. My “return” here is in the form of an Accounting & Finance degree that makes me qualified to work in the big four audit firms and major banks. So, a critical question at this point is: at the end of the day, was it really worth it?
It sure was! An Accounting degree is like a basic plate of bread and butter. Everyone needs it, regardless of what economic state a country is in. In other words, it is a profession that guarantees a stable career, despite the circumstances. This is because everyone is making money- whether it be high level corporate executives and multinationals, or small-scale family restaurants. Hence, they all need professionals that can summarize their financial data,determine their tax expenses, and in most cases, issue financial statements.
It is fair to say that an accountant’s job is not as volatile as that of a software engineer, because rapid technological advancement does not pose a drastic threat of structural unemployment. But of course, this does not necessarily mean that an accountant’s skills stay static over time. In fact, the role of accounting has greatly broadened over the years and professionals in this field today are no longer expected to simply sit down and do double-entry book keeping with a pen and paper. Information technology has automated these tedious procedures. Rather, management accountants are expected to understand, interpret and communicate the financial figures to top executives. They need to be familiar with the standards, policies and disclosures; they need to be familiar with the preparation format of the statements and guide the IT software accordingly. At the end of it all, it is their job to see the big picture from all the scattered numbers and then make appropriate judgments that act in the best interests of all the stakeholders. Hence, while accountancy may only deal with numbers, an accountant deals with many other things as well.
Nevertheless, it is a job that everyone requires as a necessity rather than luxury so job security is something an Accountancy degree guarantees. Then, what about its combination with Finance? This is like adding a dollop of whipped cream to a chocolate sundae in order to perfect it even more. Why is that? Well, according to the NACE 2012 Salary Survey, while the Business degree disciplines recorded the biggest hike in salary over the year, the finance major graduates witnessed a greater increase of 2.1% than the 1.8% increase allotted to the accounting graduates. This is not uncommon, because globalization gave way to an increase in cross border financial transactions and a rise in foreign investments. This means that financial markets worldwide are soaring as investors spread their capital across the world and require finance graduates to aid in the process. But of course, as the basic risk to reward concept states, the high “rewards” in the finance field also exposes graduates to a high amount of risk, since the career prospect in this line is very volatile to market changes.
Thus, the Finance-Accounting combo is perfect! Accountancy has the stability, while Finance has the higher rewards. All in all, these two complement each other well and combine into a valuable degree!
We all perceive the value of our degree differently and there are a lot of available options to choose from post graduation. As for me, the end of my BBA Accounting & Finance degree marks the beginning of a JD (Juris Doctor) Program, which will, hopefully, give me a fresh perspective on life.
You can read about these experiences in my upcoming blog!