If you have a natural affinity with numbers or money matters, you might want to consider either a Degree in Accounting or Banking & Finance. However, there is a stark difference between the two and you will need to learn more before making a decision on which programme to study for.
The road to becoming a future Accountant or Banking & Investment Professional requires a mix of formal education, qualifications, and patience to grow your career.
Accounting and Banking & Finance: what are the differences?
Accounting is the language of business. Accountants are critical to business success and they play a key role in any organisation. Choosing Accounting helps you learn the ropes of tracking financial transactions, enforcing compliance and analysing financial statements. You can then help companies paint a picture of their overall financial health, and assist owners to make the right business decisions.
If you are starting a career in the accounting industry, you are likely to report to the Budgeting and Financial Accounting Manager. According to SkillsFuture Singapore1, you can start as an associate and work your way to becoming an accountant in Assurance, Business Valuation, Financial/Management Accounting, Internal Audit or even Tax.
The realm of Banking & Finance brings you to a world where large monetary sums change hands every day globally. By studying this, you will broaden your horizons with financial theories, investment portfolio management, options, futures markets, and risk management.
Similarly, you can choose to climb the corporate ladder in key sectors such as Banking, Capital Markets, Insurance, and Wealth Management. Your future career path includes being an Investment Analyst, Compliance Specialist or even Underwriter, just to list a few2.
Education & qualifications
According to the Singapore Accountancy Commission AE 2016/2017 Census3, over 80% of the accountancy workforce is made up of graduates and almost half have accountancy-related qualifications.
As Singapore is Asia’s top financial centre (Global Financial Centres Index 2016) and among the top 10 in Asia for the best-skilled labour4, her financial sector naturally becomes a top destination in attracting the best talents and contributes to a growing pool of professionals from around the region.
Whether you are aspiring to be an Accounting or Banking & Finance professional, a Bachelor’s Degree can be seen as the minimum requirement for you to secure a job within these industries.
For Accountants, you might want to consider further investing in professional qualifications with bodies such as Chartered Certified Accountant qualification (ACCA), Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) or Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).The ACCA is highly regarded by 8,500 employers globally5while ICAEW is globally recognised with more than 150,000 members in more than 154 countries6.Alternatively, if you are seeking to be a Chartered Accountant(CA), then choosing the Singapore CA programme with SAC would be a logical option.
Likewise, for aspiring Banking &Finance professionals, the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter is a highly sought-after qualification as it is the gold standard for the investment industry. Today,it is held by over 150,000 investment professionals across 163 countries around the world7.
So what should you pick?
If you are unsure of where to start or which path to pick, don’t fret!
If you are a Polytechnic Diploma holder, there are many Bachelor’s Degree options in Singapore and several ways to achieve these qualifications faster than your peers.
A good number of Accountancy, Banking & Financial Degrees offered at Kaplan are accredited by or aligned with professional bodies, which means that you can earn exemptions and skip some examinations with your Degree.
You can still get the best of both worlds with the double specialized Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Accounting and Finance (Top-up), awarded by the University of Essex.
For Accountants, this Degree, which can be completed in 18 months, allows you to earn exemptions with many accountancy bodies such as ACCA, CIMA, ICAEW and Singapore CA after graduation.
The Degree is also aligned with the Investment Management Certificate (IMC) syllabus, which covers 30% of the CFA level I curriculum. This provides the ideal foundation if you have any future plans to enrol in the CFA programme.
If the Accounting and Finance industry is for you, you should consider taking up this Degree before the end of the year to equip yourself with accreditations and give yourself an added advantage for your future career success!
This article is sponsored by Kaplan Higher Education Institute (KHEI), the Best Private Education Institution for Accountancy, Business Management and Law awarded by JobsCentral Learning, Training & Education Development Awards 2017.
1 Based on information from the SkillsFuture Skills Framework for Accountancy (2018):
2These are some of the Financial professionals jobs listed in SkillsFuture Financial Industry website (2018):
3 Based on information from the AE Census 2016/2017 by Singapore Accountancy Commission:
4 Based on information from the MAS website “Conducive Pro-Business Environment” and “Skilled Workforce”:
5 Based on information from the ACCA Global web article “Thinking ahead: Five reasons to choose ACCA”:
6 Based on ICAEW article “Earn a globally recognised qualification as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant”:
7 Based on information from CFA fact sheet “The CFA Program”:
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