There’s a lot going on behind the scenes of the finance industry. Here are some of the less obvious areas of work that you could consider. Click on the articles below for more information on the types of financial services.
- Careers in Retail and Commercial Banking
- Commercial Finance
- Corporate Finance
- Financial Accounting
- Financial Planning & Wealth Management
- Specialist Markets
- Structured Finance
What is the financial services sector?
Financial services could include anything to do with money, from investment banking to insurance to accountancy. But that’s not what we’re looking at here. In this article, we’ll look at roles that provide services specifically to the finance industry.
So what does that involve? Financial companies have a lot of needs – financial data such as stock market information and credit ratings, specialist investment hardware and software, data analysis tools, news reports about investment opportunities, solutions for complying with financial regulations, and much more. All these services allow them to operate successfully.
Financial news mingles analytical skills with the ability to communicate on paper. It’s a career for sparkling writers who are fascinated by the business world. You’ll monitor the markets, keep your readers up to date with the day-to-day, and ferret out the unexpected for them, all in your own engaging style.
In the world of financial data, the important thing is consolidation; the information is out there, on stock exchanges, in company reports, in the foreign exchange services of every bank – but to be useful it needs to be all in one place. Working in financial data, your role is to gather the data for your clients. It means building relationships with banks and stock exchanges and finding ways to feed their data into your company’s data service.
Analysts in financial services organise and evaluate data. You’ll produce real-time reports for your clients, bringing them not just information but the understanding to make financial decisions. A company such as S&P, for example, analyses the financial status of companies to give them a credit rating – and that credit rating has a huge impact on investment decisions around the world.
Analysis can fall into several specialisms. We’ve just mentioned credit ratings. There are also analysts who pull together reports and opinion pieces on their area of expertise – for example, a report covering all of the blood pressure drugs currently in development. These are used mainly by investment managers and private equity investors to make decisions about which company has potential as an investment option.
Your role is to investigate, analyse and form considered opinions on your subject of expertise. Often you’ll start your career in data and move into analysis once you’ve gained experience.
The finance industry needs technical solutions that don’t apply to anywhere else, both software and hardware. This isn’t just an area for the developers and engineers. You can go into it with any degree. Those interested in finance will find plenty of roles, from product consultancy to customer service – and when you think about customer service, imagine helping a customer use your company’s product to facilitate a multi-million pound deal.
Financial companies have to obey strict regulations, which are devised and policed by regulatory agencies. There are two main regulatory agencies for the UK – the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). At its most basic, PRA regulations aim to keep the economy stable, while FCA regulations protect consumers.
Regulations change constantly to keep up with laws, taxation, policy changes and developments within the industry. Your role could involve devising new regulations, assessing them for risk and analysing them for possible outcomes. There’s also the enforcement side of things, which involves spotting and investigating breaches of regulations - a little like being a detective.
Compliance is the flip side of regulation. As a compliance officer you ensure your company is obeying all the necessary regulations and submitting reports to the regulators. You need to understand and interpret the constantly-changing rules.
Of all the financial services roles, compliance and regulation are likely to offer the best work-life balance.
Financial services roles aren’t limited to business and mathematics graduates. While the technology roles (and some areas of analysis) require some technical expertise, everything else is fair game for linguists, humanities students, and even people with arts degrees.