- Different areas of financial services
- Typical roles in financial services
- Skills and qualifications
- Key employers
- The application process
- Financial services sector graduate jobs and schemes
- More information
Are you great with numbers? Do you enjoy finding patterns in data? If you have a flair for maths and want to work with finances, joining the financial services sector could be perfect for you.
Has this sparked your interest? Explore current financial services graduate opportunities available right now. Are you considering the sector but not sure yet? Learn why you should choose the financial services sector.
The financial services sector deals with all manner of money-related departments. Here are the main areas of the sector that you could work in:
Insurance and pensions
The insurance and pensions industry deals with collecting money from users and giving it back out if the user needs it in the future. You can have many types of insurance, including car, home and life. In the event of something happening, for example, a car accident, the person with insurance or the family of the person receives a payment to help deal with the costs of the accident. Some larger insurance payouts, for example, if there is a fire at a property, may require an inspector to investigate the circumstances around the incident to rule out insurance fraud.
Pensions are separate from insurance and revolve around someone making payments into a pot throughout their working life which they receive when they retire.
Accounting, audit and tax
The accounting, audit and tax industries revolve around helping clients with their finances. In accounting, you work with a business to keep track of its financial records and submit accurate financial reports to the necessary regulatory bodies every year.
Audits are different from accounting. It is a process of checking that your client’s accounts are accurate and no underhanded activities are happening in the business. Audits can be internal or external, internal being conducted by a department within the business and external being conducted by an outside body.
Tax is how the government has money to spend on schools, hospitals and your pension fund. You’re taxed on the money you and the organisation you work for make. For example, you are taxed on your income over a certain threshold and a business is taxed on the profits it makes every year. Working in tax means determining how much tax a company, organisation or person must pay based on their income for the year.
Retail and corporate banking
Retail and corporate banking both deal with banks lending money but to different clients. In retail banking, your clients are the general public. It encompasses mortgage payments, loans, credit cards, savings accounts and everything else a person might need from a bank.
In corporate banking, your clients are businesses. It’s the side of banking that a member of the public might not see or necessarily be aware of. You deal with a range of business sizes looking at loan requests and giving out the loans if the requests are approved.
When working in financial services, there are many possible jobs that you could explore based on your interests and expertise. Here are some of the jobs available to you in the financial services sector:
Financial risk analysts and managers identify any possible problems that a company or bank may come across which could put them in financial danger. In this role, you analyse risks and make suggestions for how a company could manage and mitigate the risk.
Internal (and external) auditor
Audits are checks on the financial records that a company keeps. Internal audits are checks that the auditing department in a company makes throughout the year to check for any unexpected or unusual behaviour that could either put the company at risk or suggest fraud is happening. External audits are conducted by an auditing company outside of the organisation being audited. This only happens once a year and the external auditor provides opinions about the finances of the company that they have formed through the auditing process.
As a compliance officer, you make sure all the financial activity of a company fits with the laws and regulations of the country or countries it operates in. In this role, you write reports for the company to let them know if there are any compliance issues and you may speak with colleagues who are worried about compliance issues or have noticed anything that could cause a problem.
Financial advisors provide insightful and relevant advice for clients, whether individuals or organisations, on how to manage their money. This might be suggesting investing in stocks, buying assets or saving money. In this role, the client trusts you to make informed suggestions so researching available options for the client is important.
Accountants manage a client’s money. In this role, you fill out tax returns, set and monitor budgets, discuss sensible spending limits and make sure all the work you do when filling in tax documentation is accurate and fully represents the client’s activities to protect both you and the client from legal issues.
Actuaries look into the financial risk that a company or client may come across, find out how likely this is to happen and come up with ways of minimising the risk of it happening. In this role, you might use software and computer modelling systems to work out the statistical likelihood of an event happening so you can make recommendations to your clients.
If working as an actuary interests you, learn about Bright Network member Marquie and her work as an actuarial analyst.
Insurance brokers work with clients to find the best insurance for the cover your client needs. This means researching the policies available, making arrangements for the client to be insured and negotiating better deals with insurance firms. In this role, you’re responsible for making sure your client is fully covered by the insurance so having a clear understanding of their needs, the insurance policies that are relevant to them and potential risks that they might come across is important.
Corporate treasurers work with a large range of clients and are responsible for the financial security of the client. This means managing money from investments to assets to liquid funds, analysing the risks that the client may come across, coming up with strategies for minimising risk and making sure the client complies with all relevant financial regulations and laws.
You can learn more about careers in retail and commercial banking.
Working successfully in the financial sector requires more skills than just a good understanding of finance. Here are the skills and qualifications you need to succeed in the sector:
- Statistics. Beyond being great with numbers, some jobs in the financial sector require you to have a good understanding of statistics. Actuaries and financial risk managers use statistics to find out the likelihood of a negative event happening so they can make recommendations for how to protect the client from the impact of the event.
- Negotiation. Having good negotiation skills is necessary for some financial jobs. Insurance brokers negotiate with insurance firms to get the best deal they can from the insurance that they set up for the client. Accountants and financial advisors make budgets for clients and negotiate the best course of action based on their analysis and what the client wants.
- Research. Working in finance often requires having good research skills. Actuaries, financial risk advisors and corporate treasures research potential risks that a client may come across while insurance brokers research the best insurance deals that insurers have that cover everything a client needs.
- Analytical skills. Many financial jobs require high-level analytical skills. Accountants and financial advisors analyse the current financial activities of a client. Financial risk managers, corporate treasurers and actuaries analyse financial risks. Auditors and compliance managers analyse activities to see if the company is adhering to regulations.
Learn more about the 7 key attributes you need to excel in banking and finance.
Most jobs in the finance sector require undergraduate degree-level education to teach you the basics of finance and how the sector operates. Relevant degrees include finance, banking, venture capital plus more specialised degrees like commercial banking. For some finance jobs, having a master’s degree in a relevant subject is either necessary or helps you progress to higher earning positions. This includes financial advisor, actuary, auditor and financial risk management.
For some finance jobs, you have the option of completing a college diploma or an apprenticeship. You can explore the apprenticeships available right now with this government apprenticeship search tool.
Some jobs in the financial services sector require accreditation. To become a chartered accountant, you need an ACA qualification. You can learn more about what it means to have an ACA qualification from the Chartered Institute of Accountants.
The Chartered Banker offers many accredited qualifications that could set you up well for a career in finance. This ranges from diplomas in professional financial advice to certifications in green and sustainable finance.
If you’re interested in the sector but not sure about the best way for you to get into it, explore the different graduate routes in the financial service sector.
The salaries of finance jobs vary based on the level of work and the type of business you work for. The salary range for each job depends on the company, geographic location, experience and seniority.
- Insurance and pensions. In the area, insurance brokers earn between £25,000 and £75,000 per year.
- Accounting, audit and tax. Whilst financial advisors earn between £25,000 and £70,000 per year, accountants make between £25,000 and £100,000 per year. In comparison, auditors earn between £23,000 and £55,000 per year and compliance officers earn between £20,000 and £90,000 per year.
- Retail and corporate banking. Actuaries earn between £45,000 and £100,000 per year compared to financial risk managers which earn a range of £60,000 to £80,000 per year. Corporate treasurers earn between £25,000 and £75,000 per year.
If you’re interested in knowing more, discover the leading graduate employers in financial services.
CV and cover letters
Your route into the financial services sector begins with a great application so hiring managers can really recognise your potential. Most applications begin with a great cover letter and CV. You should rework your CV for every job that you apply for so you can highlight the areas of your education and work experience that are most suited to the job. When writing about your work experience, you should make sure to talk about your achievements rather than your responsibilities. If you have some statistics on how you improved the productivity of the office, great! Write it down! You should also make sure you back up your claims. If you’re claiming to have good organisational skills, prove it! If you want to get a head start with writing a great CV, follow this useful guide on how to write a CV.
Many applications require both a CV and a cover letter. Your cover letter is the first opportunity you have to sell yourself as a good candidate to a hiring manager. You should use the parts of the job that they mentioned in the job description and show them why you have the necessary skills. If they want someone who has specialised knowledge in an area of finance, tell them why your experience and education mean you have this knowledge. Getting a cover letter just right can be tricky and if you need a bit of help then you can follow this useful guide on how to write a cover letter and impress prospective employers.
If your CV and cover letter have successfully caught the eye of the hiring manager, you’ll be invited to interview with the organisation. Interviews require some preparation but are often not as scary as you think they’ll be. Whilst you should understand the overall objectives of a job before interviewing, it’s good to have some specific questions about the role that you are prepared to ask in the interview. This shows you’re interested and trying to get a feel for the job. An interview is not just about selling yourself to the hiring manager. It’s also an opportunity for you to see if you’d like the job. Don’t let an interview get you stressed. Read this guide for how to tackle face-to-face, phone and video interviews with some great tips to help you sail through any interview.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in financial services, learn some industry insights on standing out during an internship or grad scheme.
Interested in a career in Financial Services? Browse available opportunities in the Financial Services sector and take the first step towards your future career.