What salary can a graduate expect in retail banking, actuarial and insurance roles?

Annual salary is one of the most important factors graduates consider when applying for jobs or schemes in financial services. Will it be enough? What perks are included? For the lucky few with more than one job offer, which company pays more?

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Graduates taking a series of exams can sometimes be offered a pay rise after every exam they pass.

Financial services careers encompass insurance, retail banking, actuarial work, risk and regulation.

Businesses in the financial services sector are determined to attract the best and brightest graduates for their schemes, and sometimes don’t publicly give out salary information in case another organisation offers something better. Some retail banks and insurance companies do not release salary information until a job offer has been made. In these cases, from the job advert until you’re hired, the rate of pay is given as ‘competitive’.

How much does a graduate in the financial services get paid?

According to the results from the 2020 Institute of Student Employers (ISE) Student Recruitment Survey of its members, the median starting salary for graduates in the finance and professional services business sectors is £31,425 and the mean is £33,610. However, the ISE survey only takes into account results from its members, which are the largest organisations that take on graduates. Not all businesses were included so figures may vary. Bear in mind, too, that those in London often earn around £2,500–£5,000 more than those in the rest of the country. If you’re not based in London, the figure may be lower but so will your cost of living.

The Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2020 survey compiled salary data from candidates placed in jobs by the recruitment agency Hays in 2019. This survey found that the median typical salaries for graduates working in general insurance were as follows:

  • £33,000 in London
  • £30,000 in south-east England
  • £29,000 in the East Midlands and West Midlands
  • £28,000 in north-east England and in Yorkshire and the Humber
  • £27,000 in north-west England

How much you’re likely to be paid also depends on your area of work. For instance, the median typical salary for a graduate working in pensions is slightly lower according to the Hays survey:

  • £30,000 in London
  • £27,000 in the south and midlands
  • £25,000 in the north and Scotland

Some companies offer regular pay rises, although this is more likely to happen once you have completed your graduate scheme. Additionally, graduates taking a series of exams, for example during an actuarial scheme, can sometimes be offered a pay rise after every exam they pass.

Which employers release salary information?

Employers that publish salary details on their graduate websites include:

  • Lloyd’s – a starting salary of £30,000
  • Lloyds Banking Group – from £31,000 to £45,000 depending on the programme
  • Nationwide – a starting salary of £28,000
  • Santander – typically a £30,000 starting salary
  • Zurich Insurance Group – a starting salary of £28,000 for change and technology management, finance, and business management, and £31,000 for the actuarial and data programmes
  • Bank of England – a starting salary of £30,000
  • NatWest Group – usually a starting salary of £31,850
  • Capital One – from £35,000 to £40,000 depending on the programme.

What sort of perks can I expect?

There are a wide range of benefits offered by employers within the financial services, with perks such as up to 28 days’ holiday, subsidised gym membership, private health insurance, a season ticket loan, life assurance and contributions into a pension scheme being the most common.

Other incentives that may be offered are:

  • starting bonuses – these are not always stated on organisations’ websites, but Lloyds Banking Group and Capital One both say they offer these
  • financial support for professional qualifications – Lane Clark & Peacock offers this, alongside 40 days’ study leave and an allowance for study materials; plus you’ll be assigned a study mentor
  • the option to buy more or sell some of your holiday entitlement – Nationwide, Capital One and Santander offer this
  • discounted tickets to events such as comedy nights, golf and theatre
  • the opportunity to buy an iPad, laptop or desktop computer by paying a fixed amount direct from your salary each month
  • flexible working, such as taking a career break or job share
  • an annual bonus or performance-related bonuses
  • a proportion of rental accommodation paid
  • free lunches, snacks or drinks in the office
  • access to a company car
  • dental insurance
  • retail or childcare vouchers, or discounts with travel companies
  • preferential rates for some of the organisation’s products
  • travel insurance
  • the opportunity to work abroad.

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