Dreaded Finance vs Accounting question

@AoDay It’s actually my friend, but nevertheless you make a good point about MBA requiring experience. Is there any particular timeframe for that? - like someone needs at least 4-5 years of experience before going in for an MBA or it’d be ok to do an MBA with short amount of work experience like 1-2 years? If 1-2 years is a good timeframe, I was thinking about telling her to maybe teach at one of the local schools for 1-2 year and then go pursue her MBA.

She is more interested in finance than accounting from what she told me, but she does want to make sure that she doesn’t waste her money and ends up with no job after spending money and a year in school. That’s why she said she’d be willing to go through with MSA and be an accountant for 3-4 years as long as there’s more jobs/exit opportunities in that field.

Accounting and finance are very different. I would think most masters degrees in accounting are preparing students to sit for the CPA exam. Each state has different requirements in order to be able to sit for the CPA exam. NY requires a lot more classes in accounting than a finance degree would require. That is why I say they are different.

I would consider either an MBA with a finance concentration or a masters in accounting. Your friend should proably take the GMAT.

I agree that work experience is often required before being accepted to an MBA program. Although I think it is a good idea, not all schools require it.

@morrismm Ok so you think for job security purposes it’s better to go with an MBA /MSA than MSF? How much work experience is required before applying for MBA? I’ve heard outside of top 20-25 B-schools MBA is pretty much worthless. Given that she wants to stay in Boston/ Mass after graduation, there are only 2 schools: Harvard & MIT that offer that. Would it be worth going to BC/ Babson for MBA or it’s money down the drain?

Ah sorry, mixed up threads haha. The average age of an MBA student is 27, so the majority of applicants have ~5 years experience. Also why is she not willing to go to school outside of Boston? MBA acknowledgement and recognition isn’t a local thing…

As most of the replies in this thread have already mentioned, an MBA is better for a career change because your friend will receive a more well rounded education in business versus learning the intricacies of finance. But if your friend isn’t having any luck finding a job and is a new graduates, that is going to be extremely difficult even with a high GMAT score.

I think she wants to stay in the Boston area so she can save on room & board by living with her parents. Essentially she’ll be taking some loan out to do the MBA or whatever masters she does. Is it not worth obtaining an MBA outside of top 25 B-schools? So from what it sounds like an MSF doesn’t provide much value ?

She should look into the chances of getting her accounting degree and then working for a Big 4 audit firm. I think it is a great opportunity for almost anyone. She should be sure that the Big 4 are recruiting at the school she decides to attend and try to get an idea of what type of grades she would need to have to be hired by a Big 4 firm.

@yearstogo So I should tell her to abandon pursuit of MSF and advice her to lean more towards MSA? Outside of those Big 4 audit firms are there enough opportunity in accounting? If she can’t get into one of those big 4, will MSF provide more opportunity than MSA?

There are some very good second-tier accounting firms also, but the Big 4 are a great way to start a career. I was a partner in a Big 4 firm and know a lot about them but not so much about finance degree opportunities. I think a lot of it should come down to whether she is more interested in finance or accounting.

The nice thing about auditing is that you deal with pretty high-level executives in organizations right away and you see the inner-workings of numerous companies and often industries. There are also many opportunities within the Big 4 in other departments, locations, etc. Typically the Big 4 only recruit those with very good grades, at least that is the way it was quite a few years ago when I started.

For what it is worth, I started with a Big 4 firm in the US, transferred overseas and worked with them, changed to a different Big 4 firm and ultimately was able to retire at 40 and move back to the US, so there is money in accounting, as well as finance, although I was in the right place at the right time…

Accounting is a specialized skillset which is why the Big 4 have a monopoly on the industry, and also why if she doesn’t land a Big 4 job in accounting, her opportunities elsewhere will be much less valuable on paper. With finance there are many more tiers of firms and many different divisions that she can work within (merchant banking, securities, research, banking, portfolio/investment management, etc.).

I also think Finance offers more diverse opportunities, but the question is whether there are enough job openings in finance as there is in accounting?

I also think finance offers more diverse opportunities. However, if your friend likes accounting and does well, 3.2 or above, s/he can probably get a good job that pays well. Some big regional firms also provide good opportunities.

For investment banking, the school you attended seems to be more important than your major. This is even for entry level. Although, to move up in certain areas, a top school MBA certainly is required.

One of D1’s closest friends ( she is actually traveling with her in Asia right now. I think they arrived in Cambodia from Hong Kong today) graduated from Cornell into investment banking. She went from IB into something else (asset mgmt. or hedge fund??) She will be starting her MBA at Harvard this fall. She will have her pick of jobs I am sure. Plus she is fluent in Chinese as well as English.

D1, on the other hand, as a trader does not need an MBA to move up. Just success in her job.

@morrismm Do long did your daughter’s friend work before going back for to school for her MBA?

Hi. I have a Master of Accounting (MAC) degree - 1 year program from UNC. 95% of my graduating class had jobs by November prior to graduation, with start dates the following September. I never had trouble finding a job, but it isn’t just the degree. I also have 3 years of Big Four public accounting experience and my CPA. You need all 3 of those things to be marketable. I do not make as much as those with their MBA. Having a degree in Bio will not hurt him/her at all in a MAC program. We had people with all types of degrees coming in, including a French major. I am not familiar with the Master of Finance degree, so I cannot comment on that. Good luck to your friend.

@chb088 Thanks for your input. Did you have finance friends when you were in business school? Did they have any trouble finding jobs? Are you planning on getting your MBA or MAC/ CPA is where you’re gonna call it a quit?

I am not planning on going any further with my education. I have a bachelor’s in Economics, a Master of Accounting, a CPA and 20 years of work experience now under my belt. I make low six figures and am happily raising 2 teens and preparing them for college. UNC only had a 12 month MAC program and a 2 year MBA program when I was there. My roommate was an MBA student. She easily makes more money than I do and had equal success finding jobs.

@chb088 Do you see any specific advantage of having an MBA compared to having a MAC? One of the reasons my friend like MSF/MAC is due to the shorter length of the programs, but I wonder how the placement goes. For majority of top 50 MBA programs I’ve seen placement in the 90%+ range.

dhman - As I said, I think an MBA with a finance concentration is more flexible than a MSF. And the work experience requirement depends on the school. But regardless of the requirement of the school, I think work experience is essential.

Attending a good business graduate school w/o work experience is like playing for a D1 athletes school w/o playing in HS.

I think that both Boston U and Northeastern have highly respected and ranked B Schools.

Well, my MBA roommate makes more money than I do, but we have had equal success finding jobs. UNC’s placement rate for both MAC and MBA is over 95%. I do not know what placement rates are for other schools.

Placement for both MBA and MAC from UNC is over 95%. Yes MAC program is shorter. But MBA’s do have higher earning potential

Regarding a career in Finance vs. Accounting:

Yes, Finance jobs tend to pay more, but you tend to work longer hours for that pay.

Accounting is more likely to be a 40-hour work week, providing a much better work-life balance. Most accountants are paid enough to become relatively comfortable – not rich by any means, but able to pay bills, mortgage, go on vacation now and then, etc. So – an accountant probably makes less than the Finance person, but he or she probably has more time to enjoy the fruits of that labor.