In this article, we are going to cover the details of how to establish a career in finance vs consulting.
We will also cover what are the professional degrees one should have and what are the future prospects as well as earning potential of both the careers.
One thing is for sure that whatever field you choose, there will be no looking back since both the fields have real potential to earn a handful and make a successful career out of it.
However, both the jobs are demanding in nature and would require quite some effort from your side to flourish and succeed in it.
Career in Finance
Before choosing a career in finance, you would like to know the areas where you have to focus and need to be strong in?
What are the degrees or qualifications you need to have?
Which companies will be hiring you? And the most important one, what financial takeaway you can expect from this career?
For a career in finance, you should be good with numbers, active in analysis and have the capability to convert the number data of the organization into valuable information that would help it in its growth.
Knowledge of economics, accounts, statistics, and mathematics is essential to have a career in finance.
Most of the skills are sharpened and developed through professional studies and expert training on the subject. Now let’s take a glance at the various career options in finance available for you:
1. Chartered accountants
In India, a person can become a Chartered Accountant by getting a degree from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, an autonomous body created by an Act of Parliament.
Nearly every business house in India needs a Chartered Accountant to get their accounts certified, which is a statutory norm, i.e. it is required as per law.
It is said to be the toughest examination to pass through.
After clearing the exam, you can choose to venture as a self-practitioner in finance.
In the USA, the same is referred to as a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). In the UK, to practice as an accountant and act on behalf of clients, one needs to register with HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs).
To register in HMRC you need to get membership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) or Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).
After getting this degree, you can practice in the field of finance on your own, or you can also join any industry at a handsome package and handle their finance department. The details of the courses can be checked out at:
a) For India – Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
b) For the USA – American Institute of Certified Public Accountant
c) For the UK - Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
2. MBA (Master of Business Administration) in Finance
This is another area where you can have a satisfying career.
After completing this course, you are going to have an overall knowledge of all the fundamental things in finance and will have the confidence to step into the world of finance.
Unlike Chartered Accountancy, which is a much deeper study of finance in each of its aspects, MBA covers all the basics of Mathematics, Accounts, Economics, etc.
You can get the degree of MBA from India or abroad such as from the USA or UK.
Most of the well-known Institutes provide MBA courses. During the first few semesters of MBA, all subjects of the curriculum are covered and during the last semester/ year, one can choose a specialization in Finance, Human Resource, Insurance, etc.
In India, the top Institutes are IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Kolkata, IIM Lucknow, from where you can complete this course.
In the USA, you can finish these courses from Harvard University, MA, Stanford University, CA, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), PA, University of Chicago (Booth), IL, etc.
For universities in the UK, you can visit.
3. Other careers in finance
Apart from the above two, there are various other core finance careers you can choose from:
a) Investment/ Merchant Banking
You can establish your career in investment/ merchant banking and engage in arranging loans for the industry whether it is a term loan or cash credit loan, arranging equity, IPO funding, etc.
An investment/ merchant banker also deals with all types of loan syndication and assists in mergers and acquisitions.
Investment bankers need to have financial modeling skills to make a career in finance.
b) Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
It is an additional certification program given by Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB), India and is done by most of the MBAs and Chartered Accountants to add another feather to their cap.
A CFP provides financial planning to his clients giving them options of investing in Mutual Funds, Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Equity Investments, buying Bonds, etc.
For details, you can visit.
c) Cost Accountant (ICWAI)
This degree is given by the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India.
People having this degree are absorbed by manufacturing industries where maintenance of cost records are mandatory.
In recent times, the Institute has gained a lot of importance and has opened up a good career option for the young generation.
For details visit page.
d) Company Secretaries (ICAI)
This degree is given by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India and is for those people who want to explore and make a career in the field of Company Law in India or even in foreign companies.
For details visit the page.
Actuary degree is given by The Institute of Actuaries of India.
This degree or course opens up avenues for people interested in a career in valuations.
For every type of valuation, whether, for the future or past, people look for actuaries. Actuaries are experts in valuation principles and are in demand in various industries.
For details visit the page.
A career in Management Consulting
Management consulting is a career quite different from finance.
You are not required to have any specialized training or degree for being into Management Consulting. A bachelor’s degree would suffice. However, having any specialized degree would be an added advantage.
To be a management consultant, you need to have certain skills.
You should be creative in nature and should have analytical power since, in this field you need to understand the work area/pattern of your clients and provide them with a solution.
Management consulting can be done in any field such as Finance, Information Technology, Human Resource, Marketing, Supply chain management or any other area or department of an Industry.
Try to acquire specialized training and skills in the area where you want to focus on and provide consulting to the management team in functional areas.
For example, if you want to provide Management Consulting in designing Information Technology of an Industry, then any specialized training or degree in Engineering or Information Technology would be an added advantage for you.
Unlike a career in finance, where you can start off your work of your own, here it would be of a great challenge since any Industry/Company would consider taking consulting from big, established and specialized firms.
So as a novice you need to get associated with a significant or reputed consulting house like Bain & Company, KPMG, Accenture, Siemens, etc.
Building a Career in Management Consulting
1. Joining Big Sized Consulting firms
As mentioned earlier, for a startup you should join some big consulting firm like KPMG, PWC, Accenture, Bain & Company, etc. where you will get a good pay package while you get a chance to study and learn global business practices, since these big consulting firms often deal with Fortune 500 global companies and have complex and interesting projects.
You might also get a chance to visit abroad where you can get the scope to learn about global business practices, which would be a great experience and more significant help for your career.
2. Joining mid-sized Consulting firms
You can also join a mid-sized consulting firm, but it would have its own limitations as compared to a big sized consulting firm.
In a mid-sized company, the client base would be narrow but you can have vast experience.
You can directly interact with the high profile management personnel and can share your ideas. Getting promotions and hike in the pay package would be faster in this type of consulting firm.
3. Creating your own consulting firm
You can very well start off your own management consulting firm, providing various consulting services to your clients as per your experience and forte.
But this would be very challenging, and you can flourish if you have exceptional interpersonal management skills and a unique solution for your client's needs.
Not to mention, it would be a tough job to get clients straight away.
Skills required to be in Management Consulting
1. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
Interpersonal and communication skills of yours would be of utmost importance since in management consulting you need to make your client clear in their thought process.
You should be able to make yourself understandable to them.
So having both the above skills is important to have the confidence of your clients.
2. Ability to analyze vast data and provide an impressive summary
In most of the consulting cases, you (as a management consultant) might be required to analyze old records of the companies and provide consultation or solution to the same, which might need your analytical skill to be tested.
3. Creative and Futuristic
Management consultants should be creative in their approach that would give you an advantage over others.
You must be able to analyze the future and help your clients visualize the same. The above skills are not exhaustive but only indicative.
Conclusion: Finance vs Consulting
Let us see a comparison between these two careers (finance or banking vs consulting) and help you make a choice between the two:
Thus, to conclude, you can choose between any of the two careers (finance vs consulting) since both are lucrative and exciting career options.
Choosing a profession or a career depends entirely on your abilities, natural skillsets, and your interest area. So go ahead and make a career choice that fits you the best.