Getting a graduate job in retail banking, insurance or tax with a 2.2

Discover the finance employers that accept job applications from graduates with a lower second class degree, and how to explain mitigating circumstances.

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In the past, retail banks typically only accepted applications from graduates with 2.1 degrees or above for their graduate schemes, but this is changing. An increasing number now accept applications from graduates with a 2.2 degree and some are open to applicants with any degree classification. For example:

  • Barclays ’ retail banking analyst programme is open to graduates of all subjects and all degree classifications.
  • HSBC ’s global graduate banking programme is open to graduates from all subjects and all degree classifications.
  • Lloyds Banking Group accepts a 2.2 or above in any subject.
  • Building society Nationwide has accepts applications from all graduates, regardless of degree class.
  • NatWest Group requires a 2.1 degree for most of its schemes, but a 2.2 is the minimum requirement for its RBS international graduate programme.
  • Santander ’s retail graduate scheme is open to graduates from all disciplines and all classifications (you’ll also need at least 112 UCAS points).

Elsewhere in the finance world, other graduate schemes are also open to those with a 2.2. Examples from our 300 most popular UK graduate employers include:

  • Insurance market Lloyd’s of London ’s minimum degree requirement is a 2.2 in any subject.
  • Insurer Admiral , which offers a general graduate programme that’s open to graduates in all subjects and with any classification.
  • Credit card provider Capital One ’s strategy analyst programme. This is open to graduates from all degree backgrounds and classifications.
  • HMRC ’s tax professionals programme accepts a minimum of a 2.2.

What about mitigating circumstances?

Outside of the examples listed above, if you’re aiming for a graduate job in retail banking, insurance or actuarial work and have a 2.2 (or are on track for one), your options are more limited, as some employers in these fields still require a 2.1. However, you could still apply if you had difficulties during your degree that affected your result. These difficulties are known as mitigating or extenuating circumstances.

These can generally be defined as ‘life-changing events’: bereavement and serious illness are the most common. The death of a pet or being dumped by your significant other, while upsetting, usually don’t qualify.

Does the pandemic/lockdown count as a mitigating circumstance?

If your degree result was affected because you were ill with Covid-19 or needed to care for someone with it, or if you lost a loved one during the pandemic, then this could be considered a mitigating circumstance. Having to study from home would not be a mitigating circumstance, however, as many people were affected by this.

How do I inform financial services employers of extenuating circumstances?

Look on individuals employers’ application sites for details of how to submit information about your mitigating circumstances. There may be an area of the application form for this, or you may need to contact the recruitment team directly.

If you’re not sure how to submit your mitigating circumstances – for example, if a website doesn’t provide information about this – it’s wise to contact the recruitment team and ask for advice.

To make your applications easier, gather evidence about mitigating circumstances in advance. Ensure your departmental administrator, personal tutor and/or another lecturer whom you feel close to knows about your difficulties and ask if they’d be willing to speak to recruiters or write a statement. This way, you’ll be prepared if you need to provide more information.

Do graduate employers look at UCAS points?

While recruiters are starting to look beyond traditional educational achievements, few openly state whether these include UCAS points. Lloyds Banking Group and NatWest Group are among the few that do (both have no UCAS point requirements for their graduate roles). So, if your A levels didn’t go as planned but you’re on track for a 2.1 degree or above, you’d be wise to contact the recruitment team at firms that interest you for guidance on this.

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