Business & Financial Careers Opportunities & Development Advice Guidance - Information & News From Your Career Guide

Your Career in Business & Finance


Overview

Working in the financial and banking sector is an attractive option for many graduates. Recent figures show that 7.2% of all graduates chose to enter the sector.

If you’re not following a related course, the good news is that not all recruits come from related degree subjects. Regardless of your degree subject, the sector offers great opportunities.

Overview of the sector
As the following data shows, the financial sector is hugely important to the UK labour market and economy:

  • Around 1.1 million people work for 35,000 companies.
  • There are an estimated 2.5 million accountants worldwide. 255,000 working in the UK.
  • Recent data shows that real earnings growth across the financial sector was 4.7%, the highest of all occupational sectors.
  • Salaries ( particularly in the City) are higher than those of many sectors and other comparable careers.
  • Whilst other sectors have experienced inconsistencies, employment rates have remained steady throughout the last ten years.
  • From 1992-2004, the sector had the second highest rate of productivity growth (5.97%) - above construction and other services.

(The Importance to the UK economy of a Successful Sector – Christopher Smallwood Research 2006)

Despite these positive signs, the sector is also experiencing skills and recruitment shortages that if not addressed, will inhibit future growth and performance.

The Financial Services Skills Councilhighlights the following issues:

  • There is a severe shortage of employees with languages and cultural awareness, risk modelling and management, regulatory compliance and actuarial skills.
  • UK students are lagging behind those from other countries in terms of their numeric and quantitative skills.
  • There has been a recent rise in the importance of middle and back office operations across the financial sector. These positions do not attract the same prestige as those at the front-end. Organisations are being urged to raise the profile, prestige and pay of these jobs in order to attract high-quality and skilled staff.
  • Demand is high for employees with high level IT skills.

Where necessary, expand your existing skills portfolio by gaining the qualifications or skills in these shortage areas. If you already possess them - use them to your advantage!

What are your work options?
The range of jobs in the sector is vast. Your main choice will be to decide where and what type of organisation to work for. You should decide whether to work in a primarily financial organisation specialising in selling or advising on different financial services, or in a company where finance is not the main product.

Opportunities exist in both the private and public sectors. There are wide variations in salary levels, career progression and choices of location, so think carefully and match each opportunity to your own requirements before making your final decisions.

Your options after university
If you want to find work in the financial sector and have studied a degree in an unrelated subject it is likely that you will have to gain some professional qualifications in addition to your degree. If this is the case you’ll have to continue in education either on a part or full-time basis and look at employment later. The good news is that every year around 15% of new recruits come from unrelated areas. The key will be selling your skills and matching them to the needs of the sector.
 
If you are due to complete a financial degree and will achieve a minimum 2-1, your options should be easier as you’ll be able to consider related work immediately. 

In order to stay ahead of the competition, employers expect their staff to continue studying and retraining - so be warned you haven’t stopped studying yet!

Graduate Recruitment

Graduates are used as the main source of recruitment in most of the major financial houses. If you’re not following a related course, the good news is that not all recruits come from related degree subjects. Regardless of your degree subject, the sector offers great opportunities.

Range of Opportunities

Deregulation has introduced a number of new players and extended the services offered by existing organisations. As a result the range and type of work on offer has increased. Banks, supermarkets, insurance companies and even motor rescue companies are selling financially based products.

Working in the Sector

There are five areas that you could work within. These are: Wholesale/Investment banking, Retail, Financial advice, Investments/Asset Management, Insurance.

Job Requirements

Although staff in each sub-sector require specific skills, experience and qualifications there are some generic aspects common across all jobs.

Useful Resources

Useful Websites