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IT and technology
Graduate IT jobs in financial services explained

Financial services IT: graduate area of work

Financial services employers such as retail banks and insurance firms use a wide range of technology to deliver products and services. A computer science degree isn't always necessary to work in this graduate technology career area.
Graduates joining financial services organisations need to be passionate about both technology and the financial services industry.
  • Search for graduate jobs in financial services IT by typing 'financial services' into the job search box on the TARGETjobs IT homepage

Employers in the financial services IT sector fall into three categories.

  • Product providers offer financial products. Typical employers are retail and online banks, pension providers, investment management companies, insurance and actuarial firms, and organisations such as supermarkets that have diversified into providing financial services and products (eg savings accounts, mortgages, etc).
  • Service providers work closely with product providers. They include financial advisers, actuarial firms and third party administrators (which administer products such as ISAs, pensions or life assurance on behalf of product providers).
  • Technology providers supply technology products or services to product providers and service providers. Employers include software companies and IT services providers.

IT is used on a massive scale to support all data management, interactions and transactions and it is central to providing services through a range of channels, including internet and telephone banking, cash machines and over the counter in high street branches.

Functions include:

  • Application development: development of software applications used by the organisation’s staff and customers.
  • Infrastructure: provision and maintenance of servers, networks, data storage, disaster recovery and desktop terminals.
  • Support: supporting users and fixing issues with systems.

All of these can be conducted in-house by product or service providers, or outsourced to technology providers. Technology providers may also get involved in areas such as consulting.

Availability of graduate jobs in financial services IT

The past few years have seen a number of mergers in the financial services sector, alongside an increase in outsourcing to technology providers. As a result, there are fewer opportunities for technologists to be employed directly by financial services organisations. The economic troubles have caused many financial services companies to reduce the number of technology projects that they commit to, although there are signs that budgets for these are beginning to increase, which should improve employment prospects. Graduate recruitment is likely to increase, albeit slowly.

Applying for IT graduate jobs in the financial services sector

Graduates joining financial services organisations need to be passionate about both technology and the financial services industry. Commercial awareness is essential. A computer science degree isn’t always necessary, but employers typically prefer candidates with a numerate or scientific degree for IT roles. You will need to be a good communicator to work with people at all levels within the business, and be a capable problem solver.

Product providers, and most service providers that are likely to interest graduates, tend to be large organisations. New recruits will typically join a graduate programme, rotating through a number of IT functions (eg operations, development and infrastructure), before specialising in one particular field (such as security, architecture or programme delivery).

In constrast, techology providers are often smaller organisations that recruit graduates into specific roles. Here you are likely to have a more focused range of tasks in your early years; however, as you progress you may have the opportunity to develop a broader range of skills than your colleagues in product or service providers. The route into larger financial services organisations is through a graduate programme.

Choose this IT career area if…

  • You want to roll out IT systems and applications that are used nationally and globally.
  • You want to be a technologist but work closely with the commercial functions of an organisation.
  • You want to work in a large organisation that offers a variety of work and progression.
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