School of Business Blog

News and Views from the School of Business

What’s the Difference Between Accounting and Finance?

Accounting and finance are two of the most common concentrations in online MBA programs. Before you choose, it’s crucial to understand the difference between accounting and finance. Both career paths rely on numbers, but they carry out different roles and employ unique skills. Read on to investigate how your talents and career aspirations align with these flourishing business fields.

Job Function

Are you a forward thinker? Or do you prefer examining the past? The primary difference between accounting and finance is the perspective from which the job is performed.

    • Accounting

      Accounting is backward-looking. It focuses on recording, analyzing, and reporting on completed financial transactions. The goal is to communicate the financial position of an entity. Accuracy is essential. In preparing financial statements, accounting professionals follow rules called generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). GAAP ensures that systems of accounting provide clear, consistent, and useful financial information.

      Accountants tend to specialize in a specific area. Public accountants, for example, examine a client company’s financial statements to ensure they accurately portray the company’s financial position. In forensic accounting, accountants reconstruct financial information for entities that lack a complete set of financial records. There is also tax accounting, government accounting, and internal auditing.

Take a look at Redlands MBA

  • Finance

    The difference between accounting and finance is that finance focuses on the future. Professionals in this field help entities create value through funding and resource allocation. The central activities include investing, borrowing, budgeting, and forecasting. While accountants prepare financial statements, finance professionals analyze them to manage an entity’s financial resources.

    There are three main areas of finance. Corporate finance serves for-profit companies, maximizing the value of a firm to its shareholders. In public finance, municipalities and non-profit entities are the focus. Personal finance is the management of an individual or family unit’s monetary resources.

Skill Sets

A key difference between accounting and finance is the skill set required to do the job. Which is a better match for your inherent talents and personality?

  • Accounting

    At its core, accounting is based on numbers. That’s why accountants need mathematical proficiency in simple to advanced calculations. It’s also vital for accountants to be detail-oriented. They must process and enter a massive amount of financial information into financial statements without error. They also must follow specific procedures to ensure accuracy and legal compliance. Organization is another essential skill. Often working with multiple departments or clients at once, accountants are responsible for keeping all financial information safe and confidential.

  • Finance

    Finance is rooted in analysis, so professionals must be able to review and interpret data, identify patterns, and draw conclusions. Problem-solving is critical as well. Finance workers are responsible for generating ideas for creating value and solving complex financial issues. It’s also crucial to have strong interpersonal skills. Individuals in the finance area interact with many other business functions. They must be able to build relationships and collaborate while retaining sensitivity and professionalism.

Career Path

Whether you choose to pursue accounting or finance, the job outlook is bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of business and financial occupations will grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. Still, the career path is a notable difference between accounting and finance.

  • Accounting

    Corporations and public accounting firms employ most accounting professionals. Typical positions include Accountant, Auditing Manager, Senior Auditor, Budget Analyst, and Tax Consultant. For those with an MBA in Accounting, the average salary is $71,000.

    U.S. News & World Report ranks Accountant as the #3 Best Business Job. Accountants enjoy moderate to high satisfaction with their salary, stress level, and work/life balance. In addition to a fair wage, a career in accounting can provide a more predictable schedule than in finance. Most accountants expect to be busy during tax season when there’s increased need for their services.

  • Finance

    Finance professionals primarily work for banks, corporations, and individuals. On U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Business jobs, three of the top 15 are in financial services: Financial Manager, Financial Advisor, and Financial Analyst. Other finance positions include Business Consultant, Investment Banker, and Management Consultant.

    A career in finance can be demanding, with the stress level and work/life balance varying by position. Financial Managers, for example, report high stress and moderate work/life balance. Meanwhile, Financial Advisors enjoy relatively lower stress and more flexibility. But finance jobs offer attractive perks, such as a high salary. On average, workers with an MBA in Finance earn $96,000. They also take home the biggest bonuses of all industries.

Now that you understand the difference between accounting and finance, which online MBA concentration is right for you?

The University of Redlands offers an online MBA for individuals who wish to pursue the dynamic, rigorous, and rewarding field of financial services. Our online MBA with a concentration in finance will advance your career, preparing you to thrive in the ever-evolving world of business.

We help students develop proficiency in the areas required of today’s finance professionals:

  • Communication: Our ACBSP-accredited online MBA in Finance prepares students as expert communicators. They learn to manage team and intergroup dynamics, become skilled leaders, and present information in a digestible way.
  • General Business Knowledge: Our students explore how finance affects the overall business organization. The cutting-edge, interactive curriculum cultivates knowledge of business fundamentals.
  • Problem-Solving: Graduates of our program are equipped to solve problems from a variety of perspectives. They learn to leverage managerial economics, data and analytics, and information systems in their decision-making.
  • Ethics: Finance professionals must manage their responsibilities with integrity. The University of Redlands is dedicated to developing ethical business leaders. Our students learn about the ethical, legal, and social environments of business, becoming well-rounded professionals.

Redlands’ online MBA in Finance can be completed in as few as 24 months or less, depending on your previous education and experience. Students take courses at their own pace and convenience in our online learning environment. Here, you’ll interact in an active learning community through online discussions and coursework.

Get Started Now

Are you ready to learn more about earning your online MBA in Finance with the University of Redlands? Complete the form on this page to download the online program guide.

Email Admissions