Considering studying accounting and finance? Read our article to discover just a few of the professional pathways you could follow after graduation.

animation of desktop computer with financial information on it

Many professional roles come and go as business needs evolve and technology advances; so there’s no guarantee that certain positions currently flooding the market will still exist in years to come, let alone remain in high demand.

One function you can bank on being around in decades to come? Finance.

With finance playing a necessary role in every industry and individual business, an accounting and finance degree could be a sensible option when the time comes to choose what you want to study. But why study accounting and finance? And what jobs can you get with an accounting and finance degree? 

According to the 'What do graduates do?' study from Prospects, 60.6% of finance and accountancy students are employed full-time within six months of graduating, with 9.8% of those continuing their education alongside their new role. Of those in work, 61.2% are employed as a business, HR or finance professional.

While a career in finance may seem like a safe and secure option, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. In fact, there’s a great variety of roles you could go into.

Interested? Here are six finance and accounting careers you could consider pursuing as a graduate.

1. Chartered accountant

If you’re interested in an accounting career, a chartered accountant is a role that comes with several rewarding benefits. A chartered accountant is an accountant who has earned certification from a professional body such as ACCA or CIMA. Ultimately responsible for maximising profitability for their clients or employers, chartered accountants are qualified to deal with tax returns and auditing, as well as offering financial advice.

While you do need additional qualifications to become a chartered accountant, studying an accredited finance degree  - like Arden’s - will offer exemptions from certain professional examinations.

Typical graduate salaries begin at anything up to £30,000, while the average earning potential of a chartered accountant is around £84,500. For many, this makes the investment of time and money in securing professional certification worthwhile.

2. Forensic accountant

People often think that a career in finance ends in the bank or sat behind a desk – but this is a big misconception. As a forensic accountant, you’ll find that your day-to-day role is far more extraordinary. Using their meticulous attention to detail, a forensic accountant must investigate financial discrepancies and inaccuracies which may have slipped under the radar.

While this role may include the investigation of fraudulent activity, it isn’t always as crime-focused as the title may suggest. Some forensic accountants are hired purely on a preventative basis, whereby companies are simply trying to avoid future financial problems and abide by best practice as best they can.

A graduate forensic accountant could expect to earn £23,000 or above. The average salary for a forensic accountant is £35,000, but those on the higher end of the pay scale earn anything up to £77,000. Pretty impressive numbers, right?

3. Stockbroker

Accounting and finance career prospects go far beyond digits and analysis. If you’re a real people person with a knack for sales as well as numbers, selling stocks might be right up your street. Known for its fast-paced and high-pressure environment, not everyone has what it takes to be a stock market success. If you’re a strong communicator and confident negotiator with a belief in your ability to keep a level head when the pressure is on, a career as a stockbroker is perfect for you.

A stockbroker works to buy and sell stocks (or advise on transactions) for clients and earns commission in return. And while it sounds simple, it’s a pretty complex job to take on. There are several ways a stockbroker can operate:

  • discretionary stockbrokers manage investments and make decisions directly. 
  • advisory stockbrokers offer advice but aren’t involved in sales and purchases.
  • executive stockbrokers buy and sell but only when their client requests.

A graduate who secures work in a large bank could expect to earn around £25,000 a year, plus a healthy commission. Working for a more exclusive investment company could get a junior broker £40,000 a year, plus bonus.

4. Tax advisor

Accounting careers come in all forms, and if you see yourself working in a specialist area and helping people, you should consider a future as a tax advisor. A tax advisor possesses in-depth knowledge of tax legislation and uses it to advise clients, ensuring their finances abide by taxation laws, but also helping them benefit from any valid tax advantages and exemptions.

Taxation law can be complicated and confusing. It’s a tax advisor’s job to be able to simplify this in order for their clients - often individuals, companies or trusts - to gain a basic understanding. There are several types of tax an advisor must get to grips with, including corporate, VAT, inheritance and personal.

Graduate trainee tax advisors usually earn somewhere between £20,000 and £32,000; once they have passed their CTA exams, an annual salary of £26,000 to £36,000 can be expected.

5. Economist

An economist works with data and statistics, applying economic theories and facts to provide sound advice and uncover existing and emerging patterns and trends in any given industry. Economists often juggle several projects at once, so organisational skills and the ability to cope under pressure are vital for success.

It’s common for economists to carry out extensive research, presenting their findings to an array of organisations, depending on their relevance to the research in question. The organisations could range from banks and investment groups, through to providers of education and government agencies.

A typical starting salary for an economist would range somewhere between £25,000 and £35,000, with experienced economists earning £50,000 and sometimes significantly higher.

6. Financial advisor

Knowledgeable in money management, savings and investments, a financial advisor is often heavily reliant on their people skills if they’re looking to gain a good reputation in the industry.

Working closely with their clients to advise them on how best to handle their finances, a financial advisor keeps up-to-date with relevant marketplace products and services, and makes recommendations based on insights they obtain from the research they carry out. A financial advisor may specialise in a certain area, for example, mortgages or pensions.

A trainee salary can reach anything up to £30,000, while qualified advisors can expect to earn anything between £30,000 and £45,000.

Think you have what it takes?

Whichever pathway you choose, a career in finance can be challenging yet rewarding. If you think you’ve got what it takes to make it big, an accredited degree  from Arden could be the perfect next step. And the best part? You can choose exactly how you’d like to study, working at a time and pace that suits you. 

*All income figures were taken from Prospects in May 2020, and are intended as a guide only.

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