(checksheet) The Financial Accounting Option provides students with a mixture of finance and accounting electives, and students pursuing this option will often double-major in the two subjects. Accounting and finance are highly related to each other - having a h3 accounting background will make a graduate better at finance and vice versa. The Financial Accounting Option prepares students for a number of career paths within both the finance and accounting fields. Common career paths for which the Financial Accounting Options is particularly relevant are auditing, tax, internal audit (within a company), and consulting.

Auditing

Auditors are an essential part of the capital markets, because they ensure that companies are preparing their financial statements properly. Auditors work for accounting firms, and their job is to review a company’s financial records and financial statements. Auditors are experts on accounting procedures and rules, and their job is to make sure that the proper procedures and accounting rules are been followed by each company they review. The largest employers of auditors are the Big 4 accounting firms: PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young. There are, however, a number of other national, regional and local auditing firms for which one can work. In order to become an auditor, a graduate must pass the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, which is a nationwide licensing exam. In order to sit for the CPA exam, graduates must have completed 150 semester hours of college course credits. Students generally reach the 150-hour threshold by either double-majoring in finance and accounting via the Financial Accounting Option or by following their undergraduate finance degree with a Master’s Degree in Accounting.

Corporate Accounting and Internal Audit

Company’s maintain their own staffs of accountants to maintain their financial records and prepare their financial statements. The Financial Accounting option (and the finance/accounting double major) are excellent preparation for a career in corporate accounting, since the finance coursework enables accountants to better understand the valuation and financial impact of accounting line items. Internal Audit is another accounting area within companies. Internal auditors check the work of the company’s accountants to ensure compliance with proper accounting procedures, and act as an internal check and balance to make sure that the accounting work is properly done so that the company’s external auditors do not find any problems.

Tax Accounting

Tax Accountants have two primary functions. The first is to ensure that companies calculate their taxes correctly and pay the amount legally owed to various governments overseeing the areas in which they do business. The second function of tax accountants is to analyze a company’s tax situation and find ways in which the company can modify its business to reduce its tax bill. There are many ways that this can be done legally. In addition to having their own tax accountants inside the company, many company’s use tax consultants from the large public accounting firms to help them with this work.

Consulting

Many finance majors pursue careers as consultants. Consultants are professionals who provide advice to companies, government entities and other organizations that are trying to solve problems or improve their operations. A consultant collects data about the problem and then devises a solution that they then present to the client. An attractive aspect of a career in consulting is the variety of assignments and learning opportunities that one receives as a consultant. Every year brings new challenges and problems to solve, keeping the job interesting and stimulating.   As a result, consulting is an excellent career for students that hate routine. However, consulting jobs also often involve significant amounts of travel, with consultants often away from home for multiple days each week. To be successful as a consultant, one must have h3 analytical and problem solving skills, h3 presentation skills, and h3 people skills.   Within the consulting career path, there are a number of subspecialties open to finance majors. These include management consulting, risk consulting, valuation consulting and information systems consulting. Management consulting is difficult to enter straight out of undergraduate finance program (MBAs tend to be more frequently hired), but the others areas of consulting are all generally available to undergraduate Virginia Tech finance majors. The most significant employers of Virginia Tech finance students in the consulting area are the big four accounting firms, all of which have large consulting units. There are also a number of more specialized consulting firms that interview students at Virginia Tech. Students interested in Consulting should join Virginia Tech’s Consulting Club, which can provide additional career information and exposure to potential employers.

Information Systems Consulting

This is one of the most actively recruited areas of consulting at Virginia Tech. Information systems consulting involves helping companies to improve their ability to gather data, store it, analyze it and ensure that their employees have access to in order to make their businesses more efficient and profitable. Consulting projects could involve designing and implementing new information systems or fixing and upgrading existing systems. These systems could be related to accounting data, production data, inventory control, account collections and billing, quality control, logistics, customer data, and a variety of other aspects of a business or government. With the continued advancement of technology and computing power, this continues to be a very active branch of consulting. A double-major in Finance and BIT (Business Information Technology) provides an excellent preparation for a career in information systems consulting.

Risk Consulting

Risk consultants help businesses to identify, quantify and mitigate risks. These risks could be related to the company’s business, its markets, regulations, security, information systems, technology, or a variety of other factors. Not all risks are the same – some have minimal impact on a business, while others could have high costs and result in serious financial, legal or regulatory problems. Consultants work with companies to develop procedures for identifying, monitoring and controlling risks. Solutions could involve updating internal rules and procedures, installing new monitoring systems, adding new equipment, or adding additional personnel with expertise related to the risks in question.

Valuation

Valuation consultants determine the value of businesses, portfolios or individual assets. This often must be done when business are bought or sold, as well as for tax purposes. Valuation expertise is also needed for determining the value of complex assets on the balance sheets of financial institutions for regulatory and accounting purposes. Individuals pursuing this career path must have solid understanding of not only finance, but also accounting. Therefore, the Financial Accounting Track provides an excellent preparation. Students pursuing this area should also take the Asset Valuation course (FIN 4244) as part of their finance major.

Management Consulting

Management consulting is the broadest area of the consulting profession. It involves giving advice to management teams and business owners about how to improve the performance of their businesses. Management consultants are often brought in to solve specific problems, which could relate to a variety of business areas. Examples include how to market a product more effectively or improve its brand image, how to improve a company’s customer service, how to make production more efficient in a factory, how to optimize a distribution network, and how to more effectively manage, motivate and compensate employees. Other assignments may be more general, with the consultant needing to identify the problems, in addition to providing a solution. Every situation is different and may involve different business skills. Individuals pursuing this area must have a broad range of business skills and also very h3 problem solving abilities. Because of the breadth of skills required, MBAs are often preferred to undergraduates in this area. A benefit of this career path is that it can provide an accelerated path to corporate management positions, because companies often hire their consultants into full-time management positions within the businesses to which they were providing advice.