AuroraAustralis
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Im in first year studying Bsc Accountancy at the university of manchester and to my surprise ive encountered a Quantitative methods module which is basically a whole first year module on a level maths and further maths! The last time I did maths was at GCSE level and i'm not fantastic at maths (only achieved grade 7)
So my question is, is accountancy maths meant to even be at such a high level as i was under the impression it was only simple math so if i cant do this module then theres no hope in becoming a chartered accountant or am i wrong in saying this?

this is the course outline for more info here
Any help on this would be hugely appreciated!
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MindMax2000
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In most BSc degrees, you will very likely have a module on stats, because it's more research oriented than BAs.

As far as I know, charted accountants don't really touch on stats, as they're more focused on financial accounting i.e. preparing accounts, audits, tax advice, corporate finance. Management accountants do use stats, although it's a short module and it's very little, because the material they cover look into manufacturing output and quality e.g. how many units are defective, do they meet size requirements, etc.

I wouldn't say quantitative methods covers all of A Level Maths and Further Maths; in fact, it barely covers 2 modules in A Level maths, and barely touches on one in Further Maths. The typical stuff I would expect are hypothesis testing, linear programming, and time value of money. Hypothesis testing is suppose to help you with research in the degree (very likely involving stats), finance, and possibly if you want to do a master's in the subject. Most of the maths you will encounter on other modues on the couse should not stretch higher than GCSEs, since we're talking about simple ratios, and adding/subtracting numbers on financial statements.
Having said that, knowing about stats can help you out in a professional setting a lot. Time value of money can be important for bond valuation, and linear programming can be an amazing tool in project management and decision making (but rarely used in practice for some reason).
I'm not entirely sure why logarithms, quadratic equations, integration, partial differentiation, and matrix algebra are in there though; these aren't really touched upon unless you do mathematical economics or finance on a deeper level.

I'm a little confused to why they have science modules as second year options, as interesting as they are (Sherlock to CSI module seem particularly intriguing). The third and first year modules make sense though.

When it says that it can offer you up to 8 exemptions for ICEAW modules, you will need to check on the website for which modules are relevant and offer you those exemptions. Should you wish to do ACCA, you might also want to check on their website as well. I'm not sure about ICAS, or CAI though. As far as I know, the A Level maths you need for finance and economics shouldn't be mandatory for the finance module you need for professional accounting qualifications.

The recommended text they have for quantitative methods is a really good book, as I have a copy of it, and I was taught by one of the authors. The book will lead you into the stats for your first semester very smoothly (easier to understand than some A Level Maths textbooks); it should also cover linear programming and times series and forecasting well. For the other modules, it's strongly recommended that you read up on the core maths material for AS Maths.
SPSS would probably a better choice of stats software than Excel for this module though.
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AuroraAustralis
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Hi , thanks for the detailed response, it helps a lot so I appreciate it. Yeah you’re right I believe we’re doing hypothesis in the upcoming weeks after finishing probability 4 . Would you say I’ll be fine to continue the course then and not be too concerned that I’m struggling with certain elements of this Quantitative methods module? And would you by any chance know if the maths in the ACA (ICAEW) exams is this difficult or is it simple maths?
Thank you.
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MindMax2000
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(Original post by Fayzan_Ali)
Hi , thanks for the detailed response, it helps a lot so I appreciate it. Yeah you’re right I believe we’re doing hypothesis in the upcoming weeks after finishing probability 4 . Would you say I’ll be fine to continue the course then and not be too concerned that I’m struggling with certain elements of this Quantitative methods module? And would you by any chance know if the maths in the ACA (ICAEW) exams is this difficult or is it simple maths?
Thank you.
For the ACA specifically, no. However, financial accounting doesn't really use complicated maths at all, even though it's useful. You might want to check which modules would provide exemptions for certain modules on ACA, as this may highlight the maths required for the qualification (don't think it goes into that much depth on complicated aspects of finance anyway).

You should be fine if you continue with the course, but you might want to check on the mandatory modules you have later in case you need to do more complicated maths. When I was looking at the description for the module, I remember it saying it would be in the finance modules; I am not sure whether these are mandatory modules of the degree.
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AuroraAustralis
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I've had a look and I think there's only one module in 2nd year which is a mandatory module called foundations of finance B which I've had a look at the description of but I'm unsure whether what's mentioned constitutes to harder math as I've not done them before so could you have a look at that? I've had a look at the exemptions and it states I need 50% in foundations of finance ( which is mandatory in 2nd year but only has part B) and then financial derivatives (which is an optional module in yr 3) This can be found here. I think in general this course offers up to 8 exemptions but I'm not sure if all the ones in the above link apply to me. Thanks again.
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MindMax2000
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I'm curious to why ACA would ask their students to know about financial derivatives when they're focused on accounting. To answer your question though...

It's a little difficult for me to say how in depth the finance modules will be, as basic finance to me can me can involve financial equations that includes partial derivations, or basic Modigliani and Miller Equity vs Debt models. The modules don't list the topics like they do with Quantitative Methods, so I can only guess based on the topics mentioned.

Foundations of Finance you will probably end up enjoying, as the maths is essentially simple arithmetic. You might need to use indices/powers for some of the discounting, otherwise it's relatively straightforward. The material is good for basic finance. You might want copies of the current lecture notes to verify this though.

Financial derivatives will be harder. I was kind of put off by the fact it mentions how you should be able to solve basic problems, but then mentions the Black-Scholes model and 'be able to exercise basic quantitative and mathematical skills in pricing derivative instruments'. As far as I know, this could either mean knowing how calls and puts are priced through simple diagrams, or complicated maths that you see in the Black-Scholes model. As far as I can tell, I think they only want you to know how to use the formulae i.e. plug and play sort of thing. However, you might want to check with the 3rd year students and the tutor for more information (the tutor can be impressed by your 'enthusiasm' when asking early). I would also ask for some of the lecture handouts just to see if you can handle some of the maths; take a browse through the recommended text if you have the opportunity.
The assessment method is also a single 2.5 hour exam, which doesn't bode well either.
The following bullet points I find particularly offputting:
- be able to solve basic problems requiring the ability to price derivative instruments and hedge market risk based on numerical data and current market conventions
- have acquired the basic skills required for pricing financial derivatives, including familiarity with some central techniques, namely risk-neutral valuation, no-arbitrage pricing, the binomial model, and the Black-Scholes model

From my standpoint, there is little point in you doing the Foundation of Finance, and not work to get the whole ACA exemption from the Financial Derivatives module; if you don't take the derivatives course, you will lose out on an exemption, and need to do the whole Financial Management module in your professional studies. If you do take it, you may have a bit of a hard time with the maths.
I'm still confused to how ACA could consider Foundations of Finance + Financial Derivatives as financial management, when there's little content mentioned that is related to financial management in both modules.
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AuroraAustralis
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(Original post by MindMax2000)
I'm curious to why ACA would ask their students to know about financial derivatives when they're focused on accounting. To answer your question though...

It's a little difficult for me to say how in depth the finance modules will be, as basic finance to me can me can involve financial equations that includes partial derivations, or basic Modigliani and Miller Equity vs Debt models. The modules don't list the topics like they do with Quantitative Methods, so I can only guess based on the topics mentioned.

Foundations of Finance you will probably end up enjoying, as the maths is essentially simple arithmetic. You might need to use indices/powers for some of the discounting, otherwise it's relatively straightforward. The material is good for basic finance. You might want copies of the current lecture notes to verify this though.

Financial derivatives will be harder. I was kind of put off by the fact it mentions how you should be able to solve basic problems, but then mentions the Black-Scholes model and 'be able to exercise basic quantitative and mathematical skills in pricing derivative instruments'. As far as I know, this could either mean knowing how calls and puts are priced through simple diagrams, or complicated maths that you see in the Black-Scholes model. As far as I can tell, I think they only want you to know how to use the formulae i.e. plug and play sort of thing. However, you might want to check with the 3rd year students and the tutor for more information (the tutor can be impressed by your 'enthusiasm' when asking early). I would also ask for some of the lecture handouts just to see if you can handle some of the maths; take a browse through the recommended text if you have the opportunity.
The assessment method is also a single 2.5 hour exam, which doesn't bode well either.
The following bullet points I find particularly offputting:
- be able to solve basic problems requiring the ability to price derivative instruments and hedge market risk based on numerical data and current market conventions
- have acquired the basic skills required for pricing financial derivatives, including familiarity with some central techniques, namely risk-neutral valuation, no-arbitrage pricing, the binomial model, and the Black-Scholes model

From my standpoint, there is little point in you doing the Foundation of Finance, and not work to get the whole ACA exemption from the Financial Derivatives module; if you don't take the derivatives course, you will lose out on an exemption, and need to do the whole Financial Management module in your professional studies. If you do take it, you may have a bit of a hard time with the maths.
I'm still confused to how ACA could consider Foundations of Finance + Financial Derivatives as financial management, when there's little content mentioned that is related to financial management in both modules.
Again thanks for the detailed response. suppose I don't take the financial derivatives module, wouldn't the exemption I miss out on be easier to do separately with ACA instead of doing the financial derivatives module as it seems pretty tough. In hindsight had I known a level math content was heavy in the course I don't think I'd have chosen it but seems too late to change to anything. Out of interest how come you possess a lot of knowledge in this area? do you come from an accounting background?
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MindMax2000
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(Original post by Fayzan_Ali)
Again thanks for the detailed response. suppose I don't take the financial derivatives module, wouldn't the exemption I miss out on be easier to do separately with ACA instead of doing the financial derivatives module as it seems pretty tough. In hindsight had I known a level math content was heavy in the course I don't think I'd have chosen it but seems too late to change to anything. Out of interest how come you possess a lot of knowledge in this area? do you come from an accounting background?
I don't know how hard the ACA module is, since I don't do it. It's worth checking with people who have done the module with ACA.

I have done degrees in accounting, finance, and economics. In finance, we looked at financial derivatives.
I'm not with ACA, partly because you need a training contract in order to study for the qualification, and not many places will hire considering how competitive trainee jobs are. I'm sort of with ACCA, and have a bit of accounting experience. I initially wanted to do CIMA because it's far more analytical, but the jobs requiring it aren't as flexible.
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AuroraAustralis
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(Original post by MindMax2000)
I don't know how hard the ACA module is, since I don't do it. It's worth checking with people who have done the module with ACA.

I have done degrees in accounting, finance, and economics. In finance, we looked at financial derivatives.
I'm not with ACA, partly because you need a training contract in order to study for the qualification, and not many places will hire considering how competitive trainee jobs are. I'm sort of with ACCA, and have a bit of accounting experience. I initially wanted to do CIMA because it's far more analytical, but the jobs requiring it aren't as flexible.
nice i actually need to decide between aca and acca myself tbh. Do you reckon acca is better?
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MindMax2000
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(Original post by Fayzan_Ali)
nice i actually need to decide between aca and acca myself tbh. Do you reckon acca is better?
In terms of getting work in the UK, not really. If you intend to get work in other parts of the world, possibly, depending on the country. They used to say only ACCA can get you a job in most countries in the world, but I think that's changing (I haven't been keeping up with this news).

For the bigger employers, the ACA will have more weighting than the ACCA. Many people who have done the ACCA said they need something like 3-5 years of experience after they qualify in order to get the ACA accreditation. In terms of material, they're roughly the same - what that says to you is up to you to decide.

Having said that, an accountant is an accountant. If you do qualify for ACCA, you're just as good as an ACA when it comes to doing the job.

When it comes to getting a job in accounting, they say you should aim for the top, then work your way down i.e. the Big 4 first, then the smaller and smaller firms. Even if you work in the Big 4, you might have to study something in addition to ACA or something completely different, depending on the role and the company.

What aspirations do you have, choice of specialism, and anything in particular after you qualify?
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AuroraAustralis
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(Original post by MindMax2000)
In terms of getting work in the UK, not really. If you intend to get work in other parts of the world, possibly, depending on the country. They used to say only ACCA can get you a job in most countries in the world, but I think that's changing (I haven't been keeping up with this news).

For the bigger employers, the ACA will have more weighting than the ACCA. Many people who have done the ACCA said they need something like 3-5 years of experience after they qualify in order to get the ACA accreditation. In terms of material, they're roughly the same - what that says to you is up to you to decide.

Having said that, an accountant is an accountant. If you do qualify for ACCA, you're just as good as an ACA when it comes to doing the job.

When it comes to getting a job in accounting, they say you should aim for the top, then work your way down i.e. the Big 4 first, then the smaller and smaller firms. Even if you work in the Big 4, you might have to study something in addition to ACA or something completely different, depending on the role and the company.

What aspirations do you have, choice of specialism, and anything in particular after you qualify?
It might sound a bit unambitious as a few of the students on my course say it is but I don't see myself working in the top 4 firms like when I hear about it, it sounds way too pressured and elite to me, I'd much rather work at a mid tier sort of level where pressure is lower and there's more of a work life balance. Whether my stance changes or not I'll have to see. I think in terms of specialism maybe tax? I heard that's a good area to go into but I've never explored many areas as of yet. The aim is to eventually become chartered but 3 years after the degree (6 years all together) is daunting but I don't think there's any other way. What's your thoughts on my choices and decisions? it'd be interesting to know.
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MindMax2000
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(Original post by Fayzan_Ali)
It might sound a bit unambitious as a few of the students on my course say it is but I don't see myself working in the top 4 firms like when I hear about it, it sounds way too pressured and elite to me, I'd much rather work at a mid tier sort of level where pressure is lower and there's more of a work life balance. Whether my stance changes or not I'll have to see. I think in terms of specialism maybe tax? I heard that's a good area to go into but I've never explored many areas as of yet. The aim is to eventually become chartered but 3 years after the degree (6 years all together) is daunting but I don't think there's any other way. What's your thoughts on my choices and decisions? it'd be interesting to know.
When it comes to accounting, there are multiple areas you can go into, but you will have to bear in mind that you will be spending most of your time doing the same job day in day out. So I'd choose carefully. They don't recommend you to specialise too early, but it's good to plan ahead.
The sort of areas I have come across are:

  • corporate finance - ACA ideally (but can be done with ACCA), but may ask you to do a CFA (more investment management with hard maths)
  • tax - CTA after ACA or ACCA ideally
  • consulting - doesn't matter but ACA or CIMA preferred
  • audit and assurance - on top of ACA or ACCA, you need a practicing certificate and working towards an audit qualification with the accounting body
  • standard business service/bookkeeping and financial accounts/internal audits
  • restructuring businesses
If you're looking for a work life balance, then either tax or standard business services is more of up your alley. Consulting with big firms tend to involve international travel, which sounds good on paper but you will end up dredding it very quickly. You are not likely to have a social life in corporate finance. Audit and assurance tends to involve a lot of work and long hours.
The thing I don't particularly like about tax is that it's kind of only applicable to one country. Once you emigrate, you have to learn about tax all over again. Having said that, the ADIT qualification from the Chartered Institute of Tax (same organisation for CTA) covers at least 2 countries.
As most European countries go by IAS, the way you compile your accounts shouldn't be all that different in Europe. It becomes a problem in the US, as there are a number of nuances, and you might need to convert your qualification over to their CPA, but don't quote me on that and do check.


Personally I think the Big 4 are way too competitive and elitist, but having the company name on your CV does bring you opportunities that you would otherwise not get once you leave the company (kind of the same thing with universities' reputations). They also provide you with the best training available.
In the first few years of graduating and entering the job market, your primary focus is to pass the exams and get the necessary experience. I wouldn't count on getting much free time during this period; when you're not working, you're studying. The exams aren't exactly easy, and you are expected to be challenged. Then the fact some firms can fire you for not passing the exams after X tries.
In mid tier companies, you are expected to receive less support whilst still be able to perform your job. You might want to speak to some of the accounting students working in these firms first.
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AuroraAustralis
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(Original post by MindMax2000)
When it comes to accounting, there are multiple areas you can go into, but you will have to bear in mind that you will be spending most of your time doing the same job day in day out. So I'd choose carefully. They don't recommend you to specialise too early, but it's good to plan ahead.
The sort of areas I have come across are:

  • corporate finance - ACA ideally (but can be done with ACCA), but may ask you to do a CFA (more investment management with hard maths)
  • tax - CTA after ACA or ACCA ideally
  • consulting - doesn't matter but ACA or CIMA preferred
  • audit and assurance - on top of ACA or ACCA, you need a practicing certificate and working towards an audit qualification with the accounting body
  • standard business service/bookkeeping and financial accounts/internal audits
  • restructuring businesses
If you're looking for a work life balance, then either tax or standard business services is more of up your alley. Consulting with big firms tend to involve international travel, which sounds good on paper but you will end up dredding it very quickly. You are not likely to have a social life in corporate finance. Audit and assurance tends to involve a lot of work and long hours.
The thing I don't particularly like about tax is that it's kind of only applicable to one country. Once you emigrate, you have to learn about tax all over again. Having said that, the ADIT qualification from the Chartered Institute of Tax (same organisation for CTA) covers at least 2 countries.
As most European countries go by IAS, the way you compile your accounts shouldn't be all that different in Europe. It becomes a problem in the US, as there are a number of nuances, and you might need to convert your qualification over to their CPA, but don't quote me on that and do check.


Personally I think the Big 4 are way too competitive and elitist, but having the company name on your CV does bring you opportunities that you would otherwise not get once you leave the company (kind of the same thing with universities' reputations). They also provide you with the best training available.
In the first few years of graduating and entering the job market, your primary focus is to pass the exams and get the necessary experience. I wouldn't count on getting much free time during this period; when you're not working, you're studying. The exams aren't exactly easy, and you are expected to be challenged. Then the fact some firms can fire you for not passing the exams after X tries.
In mid tier companies, you are expected to receive less support whilst still be able to perform your job. You might want to speak to some of the accounting students working in these firms first.
hey sorry for the delayed reply i was caught up in uni work once again. Its interesting you mention tax as a good option for work life balance but is CTA a must after ACCA or ACA? And yeah I guess tax can be restricting and I have occasionally thought about maybe working in a different country so i may have to take a different option. And yh I agree that big 4 is super competitive and I'm not particular confident enough to work at such a high level anyway especially because I have no experience yet and have barely anything on my resume except good grades compared to others. Although my course does come with an industrial placement year option with one of these big companies( there's a whole process to get this placement) but I honestly just want to get the degree done in 3 years and not 4 because its quite draining tbh
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MindMax2000
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(Original post by Fayzan_Ali)
hey sorry for the delayed reply i was caught up in uni work once again. Its interesting you mention tax as a good option for work life balance but is CTA a must after ACCA or ACA? And yeah I guess tax can be restricting and I have occasionally thought about maybe working in a different country so i may have to take a different option. And yh I agree that big 4 is super competitive and I'm not particular confident enough to work at such a high level anyway especially because I have no experience yet and have barely anything on my resume except good grades compared to others. Although my course does come with an industrial placement year option with one of these big companies( there's a whole process to get this placement) but I honestly just want to get the degree done in 3 years and not 4 because its quite draining tbh
No, it's understandable (I've been through it enough times to know).

CTA isn't a must, but it's the highest qualification you can get in UK tax. You can do tax without the CTA, but it's often recommended. I have came across accountants with ACCA or ACA without CTAs, and they're fine without it. If you work for PWC, I think they request you to study it (don't quote me on that though).
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AuroraAustralis
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(Original post by MindMax2000)
No, it's understandable (I've been through it enough times to know).

CTA isn't a must, but it's the highest qualification you can get in UK tax. You can do tax without the CTA, but it's often recommended. I have came across accountants with ACCA or ACA without CTAs, and they're fine without it. If you work for PWC, I think they request you to study it (don't quote me on that though).
Ah that’s fine I’ll keep that in mind. I’ve got a question ( don’t know if you’ll know but i’ll be interested in what you think) Would you say it’s better I get an accountancy degree from a Russel group like Manchester instead of at a non Russel group like UCLAN because I’m struggling with such a high level of math especially bc the teacher is very poor at explaining things( even those who did A level math say they get confused by him and they feel sorry for us) and UCLAN don’t have a quantitative module so I was thinking would that be better for me. So does the uni I get my degree for in accounting matter?
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MindMax2000
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(Original post by Fayzan_Ali)
Ah that’s fine I’ll keep that in mind. I’ve got a question ( don’t know if you’ll know but i’ll be interested in what you think) Would you say it’s better I get an accountancy degree from a Russel group like Manchester instead of at a non Russel group like UCLAN because I’m struggling with such a high level of math especially bc the teacher is very poor at explaining things( even those who did A level math say they get confused by him and they feel sorry for us) and UCLAN don’t have a quantitative module so I was thinking would that be better for me. So does the uni I get my degree for in accounting matter?
My general impression from employers is they want you from a high end university. Some may insist on getting it from Russell Group.

In terms of what you need to learn, it makes little to no difference if the modules you do are accredited. It also makes no difference which university in practice when it comes to the A Level grades you got.

However, accounting remains an occupation where it's all about the reputation you have. If you don't have a degree from a top end uni, that will work against you, irrespective of whether it means anything in practice. I wouldn't recommend you to switch universities. However, the choice is still yours.

If you need help with the uni studies, using TSR or asking for advice from high end students would be of benefit.
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(Original post by MindMax2000)
My general impression from employers is they want you from a high end university. Some may insist on getting it from Russell Group.

In terms of what you need to learn, it makes little to no difference if the modules you do are accredited. It also makes no difference which university in practice when it comes to the A Level grades you got.

However, accounting remains an occupation where it's all about the reputation you have. If you don't have a degree from a top end uni, that will work against you, irrespective of whether it means anything in practice. I wouldn't recommend you to switch universities. However, the choice is still yours.

If you need help with the uni studies, using TSR or asking for advice from high end students would be of benefit.
Hi! I've got an offer from King's College London to study Accounting and Finance. I'd like to go into international tax accounting (if thats what its called).
I was wondering what kind of salaries to accountants earn? so far its been quite varied and a lot of people i know say its a low paid job.
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MindMax2000
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(Original post by pugpuppy111)
Hi! I've got an offer from King's College London to study Accounting and Finance. I'd like to go into international tax accounting (if thats what its called).
I was wondering what kind of salaries to accountants earn? so far its been quite varied and a lot of people i know say its a low paid job.
Suprisingly, it is a low paying job. The funny thing is accountants are pretty vital to any organisation and can help turn failed companies around (I unfortunately have experience doing so).

Qualified accountants can be paid £30-35k, the last time I've checked. However, as financial directors/partners, you can be paid £50k+.
Starting salary at one of the Big 4 is £25k-30k (I think), but the same for smaller accounting firms can be £18-20k
As consultants, you might be able to get paid more than a qualified accountant, but you will need to be able to work with big clients and they will demand a lot out of you. Another thing you will have to bear in mind is that you have to be a superb salesman to land these roles, and your main drive is to get as much business as you can.
You might want to do a quick search on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn. You can also check the graduate schemes the Big 4 have. However, I doubt it has changed much since I have looked at it.
I haven't checked the salaries vs. standards of living for accountants in other countries though. Somewhere in Europe may be a good place to look.

I try to balance out the high salary with the level of competition and the level of expecation people have on you. The higher the pay, the more you have to prove yourself on a continual basis.
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AuroraAustralis
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(Original post by MindMax2000)
My general impression from employers is they want you from a high end university. Some may insist on getting it from Russell Group.

In terms of what you need to learn, it makes little to no difference if the modules you do are accredited. It also makes no difference which university in practice when it comes to the A Level grades you got.

However, accounting remains an occupation where it's all about the reputation you have. If you don't have a degree from a top end uni, that will work against you, irrespective of whether it means anything in practice. I wouldn't recommend you to switch universities. However, the choice is still yours.

If you need help with the uni studies, using TSR or asking for advice from high end students would be of benefit.
Ah looks like I’m staying then... what are you thoughts on the apprenticeship route as opposed to the university route?
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MindMax2000
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(Original post by Fayzan_Ali)
Ah looks like I’m staying then... what are you thoughts on the apprenticeship route as opposed to the university route?
Depends on the employer. I personally prefer it as opposed to uni if it's for accounting roles. I think it's easier to get the accounting job with the experience you get as opposed to with the theory from uni. It's also a lot cheaper (I think you can get away with completing a whole qualification with what you pay for one year at uni, not that you will likely be paying for it).

As far as I know, getting an apprenticeship isn't easy though. Your results can also be a factor to whether your employer keeps you on or fire you i.e. if you keep failing a certain module, you can be let go from the job I think.

Having said that, I did the university route, so I can't speak for those who did the apprenticeship.
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How are you feeling about starting university this autumn?

Really excited (64)
21.92%
Excited but a bit nervous (132)
45.21%
Not bothered either way (36)
12.33%
I'm really nervous (60)
20.55%

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