Accounting and Finance Personal Statement 3

Hoi Lee Yang is currently a first year undergraduate reading Bsc in Accounting and Finance at London School of Economics. This personal statement was part of his successful application to LSE, University of Warwick, University of Bristol and Durham University for Accounting and Finance.


As a child, I was enamoured with the same questions that would have plagued any
questioning child’s mind. Like any aspiring engineer or doctor or lawyer, I yearned to know more about how the world, in all its intricacy and sophistication, functioned. I savoured my opportunities to learn about the breakthroughs of physics in creating our modern comforts, and relished the study of history: of how every nascent today is inextricably linked to past events. I have been thrilled by the knowledge of anatomy, learning so intently about what I was, and how I functioned. Despite all this, the world appeared insistent in showing me that the true key to understanding its machinations lay not in any of these fields. The surest way to make sense of the world, it seemed, was in a certain field without which all human activity would not function. It manages us, as much as we try to manage it: money.

I am interested in accounting and finance due to its sheer ubiquity. I realise that every economic entity, from the big corporations and governments down to local sundry shops or even households, relies on the management of finances and planning for the best future outcome. Accounting has always been a deep-rooted industry, charting a colourful history from the clay envelopes used for bookkeeping in 5000 BC Mesopotamian temples, to the double-entry ledgers of Medieval Venice. Regardless of what general perception might contend, though, I am convinced the field of accounting is also one of growth and vibrancy. Looking to the recent proliferation of financial technology, or Fintech, I am particularly keen to follow the advances in the field as I make my journey into accounting at university.

March 2017 saw HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, partner up with an online commerce
platform, Tradeshift, to offer an online alternative for financing and paperwork. This is part of a broader phenomenon of big finance companies collaborating with Fintech startups not just in the UK, but around the world. On the ground, we see the business world evolve, just as it did when manufacturing first took root in the Industrial Revolution. A KFC outlet in Beijing now accepts payment through facial recognition, and the Singapore government is working on a standardised QR code system for all monetary transactions. Bitcoin, despite price volatility and initial hostility from banks had, by the end of August 2017, octupled its market value in a year, pointing to its increasing use as a medium of transaction. Other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Litecoin also follow suit. At university, I am eager to refine my knowledge of the current framework of finance, and alongside a group of equally-curious peers, enrich myself with a better understanding of how the status quo will adapt to these technological advances.

I am drawn to accounting and finance due to the promise of challenge, not only arithmetically but also in tackling complex problems. A-Levels also marked my first exposure to the world of Economics, allowing me to enrich my understanding of accounting with a background context in how the business world worked. The course compelled me to pick up books such as Daron Acemoglu’s ‘Why Nations Fail’, which intrigued me with the idea that governments must strive to maintain inclusive economic activity that incentivises every party to work hard. The copious examples of failed civilisations which could not ensure a reward for parties to take risks and adopt new technologies had also sparked my interest in management, realising how similar the running of businesses are to that of entire civilisations.

I feel I am a dynamic, curious and highly-motivated student who is very excited about the prospect of studying Accounting & Finance at a first class university in the UK. I eagerly look forward to the challenges I will face on an academically rigorous and complex course. And hopefully by the end of my degree, the machinations of the world will be a little less elusive.


DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Advertisements

Pre-U Subject Choices for UK-Bound Students

Earlier this year, the Russell Group published their 2015/16 “Informed Choice” pamphlet, accompanied by a video, explaining the value and importance of taking facilitating subjects as a dominant part of a student’s Pre-U subject choices. These facilitating subjects, e.g. the sciences, history, maths, further maths, languages, English Literature and geography, as the lobbying group for the 24 research-intensive universities characterised, open up a wide range of options for university entries and career choices. Indeed, across the Russell Group universities and more specifically the top echelon of this group e.g. Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, facilitating subjects go far more than mere “opening up wide options”. Their “preferred subjects” reflect their umbrella group’s facilitating subjects, albeit with more restrictions and are seen as subjects to rigorously formulate the skills necessary for different courses at their universities. LSE and certain colleges of Oxford and Cambridge openly publish a list of preferred and non-preferred subjects. Generally, non-traditional ones such as accounting, business studies, sociology fall into the latter group. Indeed, reading the Russell Group’s “Informed Choice” pamphlet and watching their videos will immediately kick this question into your mind – “Why does this seem so aloof of the Malaysian context?” Very clearly, “Informed Choice” is meant for the British audience. Malaysian schools/colleges are shaped very differently, likewise the subjects they offer and the normative biases that parents, peers and teachers tend to have.

 

Where should I start?

Generally, you will have to consider three things – the prerequisite subjects that your preferred courses have, the preferences your universities/courses have and whether or not you will be able immerse yourself into the joyous journey of learning the subject. While the first two are technically important criteria that you should never forsake, the last one tend to be underrated. I cannot stress how important that is, given that you will be spending more than a year studying that subject, dedicating your soul to the devil just to go to university. You might as well just murder yourself over a subject that you will enjoy.

Let’s deal with the bits where you’re faced with a Hobson’s choice i.e. the first two criteria are relatively simple to fulfil. Go on to the websites of the courses that you are applying to and take note of the required and suggested subjects. For instance, Physics at Oxford requires applicants to have studied Maths and Physics at Pre-University level and likewise, Medicine at Edinburgh will require Chemistry and Biology. In the “Informed Choice” pamphlet, though insufficient and inadequate, there is a generalised list of prerequisites for commonly applied courses. These are essential subjects that you must take to be considered by your prospective universities.

Figuring out which subjects are not preferred by your course also follows a similar approach. Though most universities will not make it explicitly clear that they don’t prefer certain subjects, Cambridge and LSE definitely publishes their own non-exhaustive list. Nonetheless, their list generally applies to the other Russell Group universities, having all collectively expressed that they prefer at least 2 facilitative subjects before releasing their first series of “Informed Choice” guidelines. There are, however, caveats regarding this. The most competitive courses and universities tend to prefer applicants not to have any “soft” subjects e.g. media studies, accounting (even for accounting applicants), law (yes, for law applicants as well) at all. Keep in mind that while not all non-facilitative subjects are soft subjects, all soft subjects are non-facilitative. Indeed, there is hardly any strict definitions of what soft and hard subjects are but the generic implication is that hard subjects formulate the core skills that are useful in undergraduate study rather than specific skills that soft subjects tend to train. Another generalisation that you can take note of is that traditional subjects such as economics, the hard sciences, maths and the ones in the list of facilitative subjects are also considered to be hard subjects. Moreover, there are some statistical backing to this preference. In 2008, Durham University ran a study on the relative difficulty of different A-level subjects and there was an obvious trend that across all 5 statistical models used, “traditional” and facilitative subjects tend to be harder than otherwise. Though more than half a decade ago, deviations hardly were significant across years.

The last bit is fairly straightforward at face value, choose the subjects that you will actually enjoy. Of course, if you’re eyeing on the more competitive universities e.g. Oxbridge, LSE, Imperial, look only at the traditional/hard subjects. However, considering the different circumstances UK-bound Malaysians can be in – being enrolled in a college/school with limited, bundled subject choices, restricted by IBDP requirements or simply limited by the choices available via STPM/Matrikulasi, this is a tricky question to answer.

 

In the foreseeable future, accessible Malaysian schools/colleges are probably not going to teach subjects like Latin, politics, geography, history and classical studies. And you have just told me that I shouldn’t take accounting, business studies, law and a whole lot of subjects that are bundled together. Just what subjects should I take?

Indeed, unless you have the luck and privilege of being admitted to the more resourceful schools such as KTJ, KYUEM or ISKL, your choices of subjects will be restricted. For one, elite schools like these offer almost every traditional subjects there is, including A-level Geography, Music, History and IB French, German etc. If you are in schools of this sort, you don’t have any problems. Just choose the traditional subjects that you will enjoy and are related to the course that you want to further your studies in. Elsewhere across the board, the hard sciences and maths are often bundled together in for A-level, Matrikulasi colleges and STPM schools. The problem begins for students who wish to take on the social sciences/humanities in competitive universities. Often, traditional humanities/social sciences are bundled together with non-traditional ones e.g. “English Literature, Sociology, Law”, “Economics, Maths, Accounting, Business Studies” for A level, “General Studies, Accounting, Economics and Maths” for STPM.

Under these restrictions, it is important to recall that the social sciences and humanities often don’t require a stringent traditional social sciences/humanities subject combination at pre-university. History degrees don’t even need history as a prerequisite and would see English Literature as an indication of having the sufficient skills to cope with such a reading and writing-heavy subject. Likewise, economics only required maths. Given that, it is perfectly fine filling up the rest of your subject spots with the sciences or any other available traditional subject. Keep in mind that if you are not eyeing at the most difficult universities, it is alright to take the bare minimum of 2 traditional and/or facilitative subjects that the Russell Group universities collectively prefer. Given that, a subject combination such as “Economics, Maths, Further Math, Physics” will work for economics, accounting and similar subjects while “Maths, Chemistry, Biology, English Literature” seems adequate for law, history and accounting.  It is unlikely for IB students to face this problem, making it almost uniquely one for A-level, Matrikulasi and STPM students.

For the latter, where schools tend to be inflexible and under-resourced in terms of subject choices, it is perfectly fine writing to the universities themselves when applying, explaining the restrictive circumstances you are in. Of course, it is unreasonable to make someone who wants to apply for a history course to take a full “Sejarah, English Literature, Ekonomi” combination where that combination is unlikely to exist except in the more resourced urban schools. Likewise, expecting a Matrikulasi student to take that subject combination is also unreasonable given that it doesn’t exist. On top of explaining about the circumstances you are in to the universities, your UCAS personal statement should then be able to immensely display your academic potential in the course that you are applying. In that case, just take whatever that’s available to you e.g. “Science Stream” or “Accounting Stream”; it’s another Hobson’s choice.

 

Wait, just to be clear, you’re saying that even if I want to be a lawyer, accountant or business manager, I shouldn’t be taking law, accounting and/or business studies if possible? What about taking economics and business studies together?

The short and perhaps, grim, answers are yes and no respectively.

As explained earlier, the three subjects listed in the first question i.e. law, accounting and business studies are soft subjects. They should only be taken, at best, an additional subject. For applicants to the most competitive universities, just avoid them. Lawyers don’t need to do law at A-level (I doubt this subject is an option for other examinations). In fact, building the core analytical and writing skills via a mixture of essay subjects e.g. Literature, History, the social sciences and/or the hard sciences tend to be more preferable at university. Likewise, building up the quantitative, analytical and thinking skills via a mixture of traditional social sciences, mathematics and hard sciences would be more preferable and helpful.

For the second question, economics and business studies are considered to be overlapping subjects. However, economics is a traditional subject while business studies isn’t. Given that, you should either take economics and ditch business studies or take business studies as an additional subject and ditch economics. Generally, however, where economics is available as an option at your school/college, taking business studies isn’t a wise option. For instance, LSE explicitly has this preference.

 

Just what if I have no idea what do I want to study at university?

That then depends on the extent of uncertainty that you have. We will use a scale with 3 spectrums here – “I can’t decide between studying course A and B”, “I know that I want to study something in, per se, the humanities but I have yet to settle on a particular course” and “I have absolutely no idea”. Notice that this is a more in depth dilemma for A-level students given the immense options that they have. For IBDP, STPM and Matrikulasi students, choosing your subjects along these principles will do.

For the first one on the scale – “I can’t decide between studying course A and B”, it shouldn’t be highly difficult to take up subjects that fulfil the needs of both courses. Of course, this is under the assumption that there are some significant differences between them e.g. PPE and Medicine. Notice that these two are rather extreme but it is not impossible to take up, for instance, Biology, Chemistry, Maths and also History; of course, taking physics as well would be good and it is unlikely that your uncertainty will persist for more than 3 months, whereby thereafter you can drop the more unrelated subject. For more similar choices such as PPE and Economics or Chemical Engineering and Physics, incorporating the needs of both subjects won’t be difficult e.g. English Lit/History, Economics, Maths and Further Maths fulfil the former while a standard Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths combination works for the latter.

Moving up the scale and we find ourselves in a situation where a student only managed to narrow down to one particular field. The key idea then is to take up traditional and facilitating subjects within that particular field. It is perfectly fine going cross-disciplinary e.g. a mixture of social science, humanities and sciences as long as the field that you wish to be in is reflected in your subject choices. Applicants who might be set on the social sciences but unsure of which particular course to further their studies in might be interested in taking a quantitatively analytical subject e.g. maths and economics, coupled with another more qualitative one e.g. geography to cater for the less quantitative-centric social science courses. On the contrary, while it is generally normal alright to apply for the more maths intensive science subjects e.g. Physics, Engineering with a full natural science with maths combination, that is hardly optimal. The best solution is to decide as soon as possible, preferably within a 3-month period.

Lastly, for the “I have absolute no idea what I want to further my studies in” students who will have a seriously difficult time figuring out which subject combination will be best. The issue with most standardised qualifications is that your options are generally restricted. As per mentioned earlier, you should be deciding as soon as possible before finalising your subject choices, optimally within a 3-month period of starting your course, so that you will be able to catch up with the work done by your possibly new classmates. Generally, in terms of subjects, the idea is to have a mixture of subjects from different fields. Although conventional wisdom is that taking a pure natural science plus maths combination opens up all doors, that isn’t necessarily the case. Most of the humanities and some social science courses will want to see indication of academic writing and reading capability, from which subjects like English Literature, History and the Languages can indicate. Given that, start off with a mixture and then narrow down your course choices and Pre-U subject choices as soon as possible.

 

So is this the holy book that I must follow?

No, this article is entirely advisory and based on the team’s research, experience and access to various sources of information.


Written by: The CollegeLAH Team

Accounting and Finance Personal Statement 2

This personal statement is part of this student’s successful admission to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), University of Bath, University of Warwick, University of Lancaster and University of Leeds.


It was thanks to a history documentary which sparked my interest in accounting and finance. Watching the Great Depression intrigued and encouraged me to explore the workings of the financial world especially the regulation aspects. It genuinely fascinated me as to how a simple act of buying on the margin could have the potential to plunge some of the world’s leading economies into deep recession culminating in the rise of political extremists such as Adolf Hitler. My marvel at the significance of financial malpractices inspired me to pursue a career in accounting and finance specialised in banking. I wish to participate in the development of an effective surveillance framework to ensure the safety and soundness of financial institutions. Hence, I decided to apply for my country’s central bank scholarship which I believe is the stepping stone in realising my dream. To prepare myself better, I chose to study a Business elective in high school and deepened my research on the roles of central banks. I also sharpened my knowledge and soft skills by entering debating competitions. All my efforts paid off as I was successful in my endeavour. Now, I am halfway towards achieving my aspiration.

To improve my understanding further, I read “The Alchemists”. This highlighted cheap and easily accessible credits as the culprit of most banking failures and economic recessions. Cheap credits provided by Stockholms Banco created the first recession in history and this was repeated in 2007 when subprime mortgages led to the credit crunch. These financial malpractices necessitate and justify the roles of central banks, not only as a regulatory body, but also as a lender of last resort. The fact that the latter was a role which was already conceived by Bagehot in the nineteenth century known as “Bagehot’s Dictum”, only emphasises the importance of a central bank in maintaining the stability and sustainability of a country’s economy. This interests me greatly. The book showed me that the financial world is a dynamic and constantly evolving entity and in order to reinforce my understanding of it, a degree in accounting and finance is essential.

Taking up Accounting and Economics in A-level helped to widen and deepen my knowledge in the subject area which I gained during high school. For example, Accounting exposed me to how a company can improve its performance through capital reconstruction, even in the event of making continuous losses. Learning the theory of the firm helped make sense of economic crises whereby financial institutions resort to providing substandard loans in order to gain supernormal profits. Mathematics also benefitted my studies by improving my accuracy and in interpreting graphs through statistics. Being my school’s MENSA treasurer also gave me the opportunity to apply some basic accounting principles into managing the club’s funds. I hope that the knowledge I gained will better equip me for my university education.

My determination to become an accountant spurred me to cultivate important traits associated with it. My involvement in the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Medal Award helped to mould me into a holistic individual and provided me with the opportunity to serve the community. The most memorable experience throughout this programme was my involvement in an English Proficiency Camp whereby I had the chance to teach rural school children English through a variety of interesting modules prepared by students from my high school. Interacting with the participants of the Camp was both an eye-opening and humbling experience as I witnessed their eagerness to learn, their enthusiasm to contribute in team activities and their willingness to make mistakes. Their desire for knowledge fuelled my determination to learn more about my field of choice.

I would very much appreciate the opportunity of reading Accounting and Finance at university in order to contribute better as an aspiring accountant in my country’s central bank.


DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Accounting and Finance Personal Statement

Nur Izzat Aiman is currently a first year undergraduate reading BSc in Accounting and Finance at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This personal statement is part of his successful application to the LSE, City University London, University of Bath, University of Warwick and University of Liverpool for Accounting and Finance.


Would you fix a leaking faucet? One might look at it and see just water. But if this hypothetical tap were a company, then water would be a resource, and the leak a loss in revenue. Would you fix it now? I see life as a business and all our actions as investments, with the sole purpose of maximising utility. If the world were a skyscraper, finance would be its foundation and accounting would be the blueprint to its inner workings. This mindset, coupled with my love for mathematics and the desire to further understand this ever-evolving field is why I choose to pursue a degree in Accounting and Finance.

Being a practical individual, I am captivated by the dynamic world of accounting and finance, especially in the field of managerial accounting. One managerial concept that fascinates me is the Six Sigma, a set of techniques that teaches that effectiveness does not rely on the extent of our resources, but how we utilise them to improve efficiency. This philosophy has assisted me in allocating time for my academic and extracurricular life. I had the privilege of participating in a case study competition on banking and finance judged by a partner from Ernst and Young. By applying knowledge from A-Levels Accounting and Economics, I used concepts like ratio comparisons to engage in a healthy discussion with my teammates on mergers and acquisitions to prepare for our presentation. When we were announced champions, I knew where my passion lay, catalysing my pursuit of a career as a professional accountant.

In the past, I kept up-to-date with global financial and economic news to engage my father during our Sunday golf trips. While initially more interested in the golf than the discussion, it was the issue of Ukraine’s accession into the European Union that turned this weekly chore into a steady passion. In my opinion, the decision to allow Ukraine into the EU is comparable to making an investment. The policymakers in this situation play the role of the stakeholders, speculating whether this investment will pay itself back in the long run, all while factoring in the risk of being sanctioned by Russia. I am enthralled by how financiers place a value on an investment and how they tell wise and foolish investments apart. My pursuit of this knowledge has led me to read financial publications such as The Economist, online articles, and books written by the likes of Graham and Malkiel. However, I find that the more I learn, the more I realise that there is an abundance of knowledge of which I have yet to acquire.

On an extracurricular level, I have participated in a variety of clubs, particularly the Young Enterprise Programme where I was elected to serve as the Managing Director. Here, I learned valuable lessons in the running of a successful enterprise and had the opportunity to broaden the extent of my knowledge of the business world. As part of the English Debate Team, I played the role of the third speaker, or ‘whip’. Though it required that I pay extra attention to the opponent to form a strong rebuttal, our efforts nevertheless propelled us to the runner-up position of the state finals. Debate has ultimately strengthened my communication skills, my critical thinking skills and my rhetoric which I believe are essential to a student of Accounting and Finance. Above all, I believe my experiences as a head prefect and the elected president of my college’s Model United Nations Club were the most valuable, as both have prepared me with the necessary management skills needed for this course.

Not many are passionate or even interested to learn the language of business, but I am here to master it, to equip myself with the education that this university has to offer and to turn my lifelong passion into a core aspect of my being. I am eager to prove myself worthy of the knowledge that your university provides her students with to face the real world.


DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.