How you choose your degree course is an incredibly subjective process, differing greatly from person to person. 535,820 students applied to study at universities throughout the UK in 2015, a modest 1% increase in overall student numbers from the previous year. Most courses followed this trend, but some saw a significant decrease in numbers. However, some of the more traditional subject areas saw some great increases.
There was a 6% rise in applications to degrees in the Mathematical Sciences in 2015, which means an extra 2,530 prospective accountants, economists and bankers took their first step towards a job in finance. Unfortunately, though, for many of these budding accountants, their degree and career choice does come with a catch. The stereotype of the ‘boring accountant’ means many of them get more than their fair share of the jokes. While this opinion of the industry may be slightly old fashioned, there are still people out there who believe it.
Why do these perceptions still exist?
So, why do people think accountants and financiers are boring? This age old perception can be largely attributed to the complicated nature of the subject area and profession. Accountants often have to use complex financial language to describe specific aspects of business which can make it pretty inaccessible for outsiders. Couple that with the bad connotations about maths in general that many people carry from their school days and you can see how people’s perception of the profession becomes clouded.
Due to the intense nature of the work it may seem as if accountants are anti-social, but it’s more than likely that they’re just engrossed in their work. Other jobs require a lot of interaction between others but for accountants a large part of their day will be spent studying account books, spreadsheets and dealing with expense requests from the rest of us. Without dedication and concentration, mistakes would inevitably be made, and when you’re dealing with money that’s the one thing you need to avoid.
Why they’re untrue…
All sorts of different people take on a role in accountancy and from all sorts of backgrounds, so it’s simply not accurate to tar everyone with the same brush. Financial brokers Spread Co spoke to recent graduates from a range of courses including Business, Accounting, and Finance and Economics. Their answers revealed that they actually still had quite a lot of negativity levelled at them from both fellow students while at university but also even by colleagues at work.
The graduates, who are all now working in finance, were asked to reveal some of the questions and comments they’d received both during their study and at work. Their response ranged from being told they were a “boring bean counter” to being asked “won’t you want to kill yourself doing that 9-5?” The students were in turn asked to respond to their critics. Their responses were priceless, proving that they’re far from the ‘boring accountants’ they’re labelled as. Amongst this range of graduates were a company partner and a mountain climber, but more than that – they are a group of rounded and satisfied individuals. You can see the full campaign here.
Why it’s a good career choice…
With so many students making the decision to move into vocations like these, it seems that many of them recognise the many benefits of studying and then working in finance and accounting. Seven out of the top ten best universities for Accountancy and Finance have a ‘Graduate Prospects Score’ of 80 or above. That means the vast majority of their graduates have an extremely good chance of getting a job immediately after university.
These employment prospects are also enhanced further by the makeup of courses like these. There are statistically more overseas students on Mathematical Science courses than on many other courses (around 20% are not from the UK) so students have the chance to make connections all over the world. In an increasingly global job market, this gives a much needed advantage for people wishing to work abroad.
Not only that, but the money is better. Graduates from courses in mathematical sciences have a higher average wage in their first job. Wages for graduate accountants are some of the highest, with last year’s average putting it at around £27,149. That’s around the same as an engineering graduate, and about £4,000 more than a medical graduate.
They say ‘money makes the world go round’ and as a result, there will always be room for the accountants of this world. As more and more businesses move online and the resurgence of small businesses increase as a result, this demand will only continue. The students, graduates and employees interviewed who work in the mathematical sciences are living proof that they are simply not boring.
Dan Yeo is Media & Online Relations Manager at an award-winning digital marketing agency. He regularly blogs about student, graduate and career issues.