Accounting in itself is a highly rewarding profession. It also provides the essential foundation for pursuing advance courses in business, management and finance. It is said to be the language of business. I was once told by (noted economist) Dr I G Patel that Shri G D Birla -- the most respected industrialist that India has produced - considered accounting knowledge and common sense as two most essential qualities for succeeding as a business-person or a professional manager.
One should be able to measure and assess the consequences of individual and collective actions on an organisation. Accounting provides logic for measurement and assessment. In India, accounting is taught in the BCom or BCom (Hons) programme; accounting has always been an integral part of commerce and business. BCom is the first degree in accounting which serves as a basis or an entry for professional or post-graduate degrees in accounting, commerce, business or management.
The University of Delhi's BCom (Hons) programme is the most comprehensive in accounting, basic finance and general commerce and business subjects and is good enough for junior and middle-level executive jobs in banking, insurance, financial services and small and medium-size business firms.
A second degree (academic or professional) in accounting/ finance considerably improves employability and opens up many more attractive careers. An undergraduate in accounting/ finance/ commerce has the option of pursuing professional courses like the CA (chartered accountancy), CFA (certified financial analysis), CWA (cost and works accountancy), and CS (company secretaryship). Anyone with a BCom (Hons) degree and good knowledge of mathematics and statistics has an advantage in pursuing post-graduate degrees in business and management like MBA, MIB (Master of international business) MHR (Master of human resource) and finance like MFC (Master of finance & control), MA/ MSc in finance etc.
A BCom (Hons) student is well trained in economics. Hence, s/he can easily branch off to MA (Economics) and MBE (master of business economics).
It's quite clear that students with an accounting/ finance background have enormous opportunities to pursue professional and post-graduate courses. Thus, they are able to improve their employability. They can also pursue courses in law, particularly, corporate law, and taxation. Both these fields provide highly remunerative jobs.
Skill set required
Accounting and finance courses require logical thinking, analytical skills and the ability to formulate real-life business problems. It must be understood that a student of accounting and particularly, of finance must have good knowledge of mathematics. The advance courses in finance which prepare students for jobs in derivatives and investments and foreign exchange markets require very good knowledge of quantitative techniques.
Institutions at a glance
Most universities offer the BCom (Hons) programme. At the University of Delhi, a large number of colleges conduct this programme. Countrywide, some among the many popular colleges for this are:
Loyola College, Chennai
St Xavier's College, Kolkata
Sydenham College, Mumbai
Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi
Hindu College, Delhi
Ramjas College, Delhi
Hans Raj College, Delhi
Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi
The author is professor at University of Delhi's department of commerce and former professor and dean of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He was also professor and dean at Asian Institute of Technology's School of Management, Thailand.