How to get a job in financial services

The financial services sector covers a wide range of different services and job roles. Jobs in financial services include actuarial work, retail banking, insurance broking, corporate banking and more. Some jobs, such as actuarial work, will require you to have a maths-related degree, but others, such as retail banking, will accept graduates from any degree background.

Jobs vs schemes

There are plenty of graduate level jobs and graduate schemes in the financial services sector. Whichever route you choose you will likely carry out some form of additional training to gain a professional qualification. For example, if you choose to follow a career as an actuary your employer will usually put you through additional training to pass the Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA) exams.

If you decide to pursue a career in retail banking you’ll most likely apply to a graduate scheme with a bank. Here you’ll be put through training to develop your managerial skills. Although this training doesn’t tend come with any formal qualification, it will equip you with the tools needed for running a bank branch.

Top skills for a job in finance

Being successful in the financial services sector isn’t all about maths, although having a degree-level grasp of numbers can be very useful in some areas. In truth, you’ll need a broad range of skills including:

  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Customer and client service
  • Leadership and team management
  • Organisation and time management
  • Teamwork
  • Numeracy.

What is it like working in financial services?

Working life in financial services can be hectic, especially for graduates balancing their job with studying for relevant industry qualifications. However, most employers will support graduates who have to achieve extra qualifications. This is usually through providing in-house tuition, learning materials and time off for study. You can also expect rewards for your hard work. Graduates in this sector have commented that they have been given substantial responsibilities early on, such as meeting clients, dealing with customers and working alongside senior partners.

Other degrees welcome or not?

Numerical degrees aren’t essential for a career in financial services. The sector covers a range of different jobs, each requiring a different skills set, meaning that some degrees are particularly suited to certain job roles:

  • Pension manager employers prefer business, finance and law degrees.
  • Actuaries need to have a high level of maths, usually a B at A level and usually a numerate degree, such as maths, statistics, economics, physics or similar.
  • Retail bankers need a minimum of a 2.2 in any subject, although a degree in law, business, management, mathematics or economics may be advantageous.
  • Corporate bankers require at least a 2.1, preferably in a business related subject.
  • Insurance brokers can come from any subject background; however, business, management economics and maths related degrees are advantageous.
  • Insurance claims inspectors can have a degree from any background, but some employers prefer maths, economics, law, management, business studies, accountancy and finance degrees.
  • Insurance risk surveyor candidates may find it helpful having a degree in business, law, management, insurance, mathematics, risk management, economics or engineering.
  • Insurance underwriters can have any degree; however, some employers prefer accounting, finance, economics, law, management and business studies degrees.
  • Loss adjuster employers, especially those specialising in technical fields such as engineering or construction may prefer a degree relevant to that field.

Application deadlines

Exact dates may differ from employer to employer, but most close their application windows around November and December the year before the graduate job starts.

 
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