About graduate careers in financial services and insurance
From high street retail banks such as HSBC, to insurance giant Aviva, and central bank and regulator the Bank of England, many different companies and organisations fall into this sector. Some are specialist and niche, such as Lloyd’s (not to be confused with Lloyds Banking Group), while others, such as global banking and financial services company Barclays, are multinational, with a presence in excess of 40 countries.
A financial or business degree isn’t essential to a successful job application, so don’t discount this sector if you have a degree that seems totally unrelated to it – it may well have equipped you with the traits employers are looking for. Among those skills cited as important for working in this sector in employers’ recruitment literature are teamwork, commercial acumen, leadership potential and the ability to work under pressure, as well as communication and numerical skills.
Bloomberg’s employees, for example, could find themselves analysing financial data for traders across global markets, while at American Express a graduate might opt to work in lifestyle and travel services. A typical day in another company could include dealing with pension policies, financial management matters, insurance claims or risk analysis.
As you pin down which field of banking, insurance or financial services you want to work in, consider the likely locations that your chosen company operates in. Leeds, Manchester and Scotland are all considered alternative financial services districts and so you may find yourself not living in London at all. This may be a blow if you want to forge a career in the City, but a blessing if you want to avoid setting up home in one of the most expensive locations in the UK.
This career sector is one of the most scrutinised – some might say justifiably, given its importance to the British economy. The regulatory bodies set up in 2013 to ensure best practice also offer job opportunities, so if you’d rather be a watchdog than watched over, look out for jobs with the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Opportunities for graduates
Many employers in this sector offer internships and the best chance of securing one of these is to get an application in place early in the second year of your degree. Though the openings are for the summer, the internship deadlines are typically in December, so check out company profiles and available opportunities promptly. As far as career progression is concerned, UK-qualified workers in this sector are valued the world over. If you’re at the top of your tree in a leading banking, insurance or financial services firm, there will be numerous chances to travel and you may find yourself offered posts in Hong Kong, the Middle East, the US and beyond, with a six-figure salary included. Click here for more information about the benefits of working in financial services.
Students interested in banking, insurance and financial services...
- preferred to communicate with employers face to face, through on-campus careers workshops and stands at careers fairs (both at 54%)
- tended to think that their course provided them with the skills necessary to enter the labour market
- were perhaps more driven by financial gain than students in other sectors, as a particularly high 19% disagreed with the statement ‘I would accept a lower salary if I thought an employer was very suited to me’
- were likely to feel worried about their future career, with only 16% disagreeing with the statement ‘I am worried about my future career’ and 17% expressing no opinion.