The banking & finance industry remains one of great prestige in the world and the UK is home to many of the world’s vaunted financial institutions. A career in finance is one that’s extremely desirable to thousands of students. The difference between them and you is they don’t have Debut to give them the lowdown on the industry.
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What is Banking & Finance?
The banking and finance sector is made up of several different arms. These include banking, corporate and personal finance, investment (shares, bonds, pensions, property portfolios), wealth management, credit and risk management, financial planning, regulation and ethics, accounting and economics. If you choose to work in this industry, more often than not you’ll be tasked with managing other people’s money and assets. This could be while working for the investment arm of one of the UK’s high street banks or advising individual clients.
This is a sector where trust and professional reputations are important
Making it in the finance industry requires an expert knowledge of the sector and its specialist products with excellent communication and interpersonal skills. This is a sector where trust and professional reputations are important.
Banking and finance has a wide range of job roles available across a litany of big name companies. These include big four accountancy firms like Deloitte and EY, investment banks like Barclays, HSBC and Goldman Sachs, insurance firms like Willis Towers Watson, and fintech firms like BlackRock and Bloomberg (all these are Debut employers by the way, and you can apply for their roles on our app). Here are some of the positions you can get.
- Chartered accountant
- Compliance officer
- Corporate investment banker
- Financial adviser
- Risk analyst
- Retail banker
- Insurance broker/account manager/claims handler
- Pensions consultant
- Tax professional/adviser
Most investment banks welcome graduates from all academic disciplines, though you’ll obviously have to be able to demonstrate that you have the required skills for the job and genuine interest in the financial markets. To do so, a relevant internship (ideally with the employer you’re applying to) will suffice.
A large majority of successful graduates are business, finance or accounting graduates, but those doing law, computer science, maths, chemistry, economics or history will thrive too. Whatever you chose, you’ll need to achieve a 2:1 or a 1st in most cases and for any financial technology (fintech) roles, you’ll need to have done a technological degree or degrees with a significant IT component.
Skills you need
Due to reported skills shortages in accounting and finance, there’s a huge demand for suitably-qualified professionals in the UK. This means that if graduates can keep an eye on news within the industry and tailor their career paths to employer needs, they’ll have a lot more luck in the job market.
Quick, enthusiastic learners that can work effectively in a team will thrive in banking and finance.
A good way to pattern yourself among the in-crowd is to learn about information security and data with the intention of becoming an audit, risk or finance professional. Businesses all over the country are seeking to neutralise the threat of cyber attacks, and skills like this would put any prospective graduate at the top of pile.
In terms of general skills, graduate recruiters typically require candidates to have a logical mindset, a real interest in finance, attention to detail and accuracy, self-confidence, and the ability to work under pressure.
While a degree in maths and science isn’t necessary, you absolutely need good numeracy skills. Quick, enthusiastic learners that can work effectively in a team will thrive in banking and finance.
Now, if you do want to get into banking and finance, there are a few things you should know. The banking sector still suffers something of an image problem following the financial crash of 2008, something which is still having a knock-on effect to this day. Because of cuts to graduate programmes caused by the economy, it’s become fashionable to recruit from overseas to fill entry level positions, making competition for places more fierce than ever.
In addition, the future of the UK economy is currently up in the air due to ongoing Brexit negotiations with the European Union. Whatever the government manages to do, there are bound to be ripples felt in the finance industry. Jobs are also being affected by rising cyber crime and increased automation. Nevertheless, the UK’s financial centre is resilient, and is expected to respond to these challenges, with the sector already planning for the various potential eventualities.
Despite this, specialist recruiters Hays saw a positive outlook for partly and newly-qualified accountants in the UK during 2017, as there remained a strong demand for financial skills.
Work experience in finance comes in many different shapes and sizes. Due to the importance of having experience in the sector, there are several different opportunities that suit everyone regardless of education stage. For first years, there are two-week internships, insight days and work shadowing opportunities. For second years there are summer programmes, vacation schemes and year long placements available too.
For banking and finance, undergraduate experience is absolutely crucial – the more, the better. Doing several work placements and internships will give you a broader choice of careers later on, as many employers will favour those who have completed placements or internships at their firm during the recruitment process.
When looking for work experience, remember to search far and wide, and think outside the box. Many will head directly for the Big Four or a big bank, but smaller offices and finance departments are a slightly easier get and are just as effective on a CV.
For banking and finance, undergraduate experience is absolutely crucial
Pros and Cons
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