The financial services industry is thriving in the UK, making it an attractive career path for ambitious graduates wanting to establish themselves in the business realm. And with so much variety in the sector – from accountancy, to journalism, to data analysis and compliance – there are plenty of opportunities to go around.
Financial services graduate schemes give you the chance to learn and prove yourself in a fast-paced environment, where the most talented workers can rise through the ranks and get handsomely rewarded.
But what might a financial services grad scheme consist of? What can you expect? And what are the best employers looking for? Let’s explore…
What does a typical financial services graduate scheme look like?
Graduate schemes in financial services are typically 2-3 years, ensuring you gain an in-depth understanding of the industry, develop wide-ranging expertise, and identify and nurture your interests.
This can involve shadowing more senior members of staff, undergoing further qualifications, and embarking on continuous professional development. By demonstrating your knowledge and skills, you will be able to progress within your chosen career path.
Many financial services grad schemes are rotational, meaning you have the opportunity to work in more than one field during the course of the programme. This can be beneficial if you want to develop transferrable skills and keep your options open for your next steps.
Your starting salary will depend on the path you choose within financial services, and the employer. Graduate analysts usually earn around £30,000, whilst salaries tend to be slightly lower for careers like journalism.
Financial services graduate schemes are designed to equip you with all the skills and understanding you need to carve out a successful career within the industry. Therefore, many professionals find themselves specialising as they progress through their working life.
You could find yourself drawn to corporate finance, or maybe you like the idea of working with high net worth individuals on financial planning and wealth management. Alternatively, you could have a particular interest in specialist markets, such as FinTech or mergers and acquisitions.
In any case, career progression often takes you from roles such as analyst or trainee, through to managerial or consulting positions, right up to senior roles. This will enable you to adopt more responsibilities, which inevitably come with a higher salary.
Graduates pursuing a career in financial services are spoilt for choice, particularly if you’re drawn to cities like London or Manchester. From banking institutions, to investors, to regulators like the FCA, there are a whole host of graduate employers and leading organisations looking for driven individuals.
Departments you can dip into
Financial services graduate schemes give you the ability to develop an interest in so many departments. Perhaps you’re fascinated by macroeconomics, or maybe you prefer tapping into the specifics of microeconomics. However, the roles within finance can be broken down into a few core areas: analysis, technology, regulation and compliance.
What an ideal candidate looks like
So, you’re set on a career in financial services, and want to get a leg-up into the industry by embarking on a graduate scheme. But are you the right candidate for the job? Confidence and ambition are key traits that mark budding finance professionals apart, but these need to be backed by a few core skills.
If you’re applying for a data role, you’ll need to demonstrate mathematical expertise and analytical skills. As many financial services graduate schemes involve dealing with clients, strong communication is a must too. We’ve written about the skills employers are looking for before, if you want to learn more.
But if you really want to stand apart from the competition, consider what you can do to make your CV, cover letter and interview shine. From taking an internship to researching the firm and its culture, there are plenty of ways in which you can get ahead in finance and make yourself more attractive to potential employers.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll find countless guides to give you further insight into the sector to the left of this page, so dive into these free resources to firm up your career path in the financial sector.