Accounting is essentially subset of finance, in terms of discipline. However if we see the career path and the kind of role played in both the disciplines, it differs considerably.
Accounting involves data measuring, filling and mainteanance of financial statements i.e income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, hence financial position of a firm can be assessed. People who specialize these activities are designated as accountants.
An accountant is expected to keep track of company's transactions, tax paid records etc accurately. The analysis and communication of financial information of various companies, is also categorized as the role performed by accountants. Many accountants also do budget analysis, financial planning, IT consulting and some legal services like auditing. The auditer typically audits the financial reports of the firms, and give independent opinion on whether the information given in the statements is accurate and free from material errors.
Some accountants also specialize in investigating the frauds, bankruptcies, and other financial crimes.
The career path after an accountant could be accountant manager who are more involved in planning and budgeting. Their responsibilities are cost management and asset management. Usually they are also part of executive teams involved in strategic planning and business decisions.
Finance: It is a vast domain, it has applications in commercial and investment banking, real estate, acturial science, insurance. The discipline broadly comprises the fields like economics, Mathematics, Accounting, Statistics, Business. Specializing finance would also involve specializing these subjects as well as having strong decision making, team leading capabilities.
Broadly the financial manager's role would involve decision making. They would analyze the data prepared by accountants and are expected to make high level decision based on that. e.g if the company should give dividends, mergers decisions, derivative valuations etc. Finance also involves risk management, this would also mean to have expertise in financial modeling and tools based on financial practices. Professionals in consulting, also give financial advice and help clients make important decisions, reduce costs etc.
Portfolio allocation and management, credit analysis, research in risk measurement, security valuation, fund raising are also the genre of activities for finance managers.
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