Recruiters across the insurance, retail banking, actuarial and financial services sectors typically expect 2.1s for their graduate schemes. Exceptions are few and far between, but they do exist. For example:
- HMRC’s tax professionals programme accepts a minimum of a 2.2.
- Nationwide Building Society has previously stated: ‘For our graduate programmes, we don't mind what grade you've attained but you must have achieved a degree-level qualification.’
- Lloyds Banking Group accepts a 2.2 or above in any subject.
- Lloyd’s (of London)’s minimum degree requirement is a 2.2 in any subject.
- Aviva doesn’t specify a minimum grade, saying only that it accepts ‘a degree in any discipline’.
- RBS requires a 2.1 degree for most of its schemes, but a 2.2 is the minimum requirement for its RBS International graduate programme.
Bear in mind, however, that most employers who seek 2.1s usually consider your application if your results are due to mitigating circumstances.
What are acceptable mitigating circumstances for insurance, actuarial and retail banking employers?
Extenuating circumstances can generally be defined as ‘life-changing events’: bereavement and illness are the most common. The death of a pet and being dumped by your significant other, while upsetting, usually do not qualify.
How to inform financial services employers of extenuating circumstances
Most finance employers say on their recruitment websites whether they’ll consider candidates with mitigating circumstances and then explain how to apply. If an organisation’s website doesn’t cover extenuating circumstances, do send them an email or give them a call to ask whether they would accept your application and how to best apprise them of it – at the very least, doing this will warn them to expect your application, so you avoid being screened out.
However, expect to be asked to provide proof of your mitigating circumstances. Willis Towers Watson, for example, has been known to accept applicants with mitigating circumstances but requires proof from the university/examining body and considers whether the circumstances have already been taken into account during the marking process.
To make your applications easier, therefore, gather documentary evidence. If you are still at university, ensure your departmental administrator, personal tutor and/or another lecturer whom you feel close to knows about your difficulties – the recruiters may want to speak to them to vouch that you are of 2.1 calibre.
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