How do I start a career in finance UK?

How do I get into finance?

For those who have just graduated high school or college, the fields of banking, investment management, accounting, and insurance provide a wealth of employment prospects. This is the procedure for entering them.

The majority of occupations in finance may be entered via one of two entry points. You have the option of enrolling in college on a full-time basis initially and then searching for a graduate employment (often on a graduate program), or you may begin working for an organization after completing your A levels or the equivalent and begin making money while you continue your education (usually referred to as a school leaver programme). It is only possible to begin working for a limited number of companies while also pursuing higher education at the same time.


The vast majority of big accounting companies provide applicants with the opportunity to participate in graduate as well as school leaver courses. In general, smaller businesses exclusively hire graduates. Once you begin a career in accounting, regardless of the path that you choose to get there, you will eventually have to get qualified. This means that once you have completed your training, you will be in possession of an accountancy qualification that is nationally (and frequently internationally) recognized. This demonstrates to potential employers, clients, and the general public that you have the relevant practical skills and theoretical knowledge to perform your job effectively. Please read our post for more information on the professional requirements for accountants.

Beginning a profession in accounting after graduating from high school

Applicants to accounting businesses are often required to have strong academic credentials, with a minimum grade of B in both English and mathematics from their GCSEs. The majority of programs for school dropouts are designed to be completed over a span of five years; during the first two years, participants work toward earning a fundamental qualification or certificate, while the remaining three years are devoted to earning a professional certification. A select few businesses provide students with the opportunity to earn both a degree and a professional certification in a same program; the duration of such programs typically ranges from four to six years.

When applying for a school leaver program, having experience like this on your resume can make you more marketable to potential employers. There are just a few of companies that provide summer schools for students in their senior year. In a similar vein, being able to demonstrate that you have attended school events, open nights, or insight days hosted by a company may increase the likelihood that you will be employed by the company.

Graduate opportunities in the field of accounting

If you can show potential employers that you aren't intimidated by mathematical concepts, arts degrees are just as valuable as numerate degrees (degrees that have a significant emphasis on mathematics) (numeracy tests are often part of the application process).

A graduate with a 2.1 grade point average from a top rated institution in practically any field of study may join the field of accounting as a professional. Additionally, the majority of companies will want to see strong scores at the A level. You should examine the website of the potential business you are interested in working for, though, since the minimum qualifications for a lot of companies are often changing.

Because full-time job offers are routinely offered to interns who impress their employers, many students choose to look for internships during their last year of schooling. It typically takes graduates roughly three years after being employed before they are considered professionally prepared in their field.

Investment management

The majority of investment management companies provide school leaver courses and graduate programmes as two of the many organized entry points into the industry.

Career opportunities in investment management for recent graduates

The school leaver programs, which are often apprenticeships at levels 3 or 4, are geared for high school and college graduates who have completed at least three A levels or their equivalents with grades ranging from A* to C. There are certain companies that will only hire candidates who have completed a particular A level course, such as economics or mathematics. A good number of employers will also look at GCSEs and will want a minimum of five GCSEs with grades ranging from A* to C, including English and mathematics.

Career opportunities in investment management for graduates

Students who have earned or are on track to earn at least a 2.1 (the second highest grade) or an equivalent at university are encouraged to apply to graduate programs in investment management. These programs are designed for students who are currently enrolled as undergraduates or postgraduates. Employers in the investment management industry welcome graduates from all degree subjects for all jobs, with the exception of some businesses' IT roles for graduates of certain degree fields. Degrees in computer science, information technology, or software engineering, or something comparable, are often required for these. Some organizations look for candidates who have earned high marks in their A-level coursework (As and Bs, or equivalents).


On-the-job training is an essential component of programs designed for school leavers and graduates alike. The form of the training will range from one investment management company to the next, as will the requirements for school leavers and graduates, as well as the divisions within the company. The training, on the other hand, will often consist of any or all of the following for both high school graduates and college graduates:

Formal instruction with official certification. Some employers, for instance, will put you through the Investment Management Certificate (IMC) and qualifications that are specific to your area of work within the company, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification. Another example would be that some employers will pay for you to get the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification.

Participating in the school leaver program allows you to work toward achieving a national qualification, such as an NVQ.

At least one rotation, which entails spending some portion of the program working in a department within the organization that is different from the one in which you are initially placed.


The qualifications for starting a career in banking vary depending on the division of a bank you want to work for and whether you want to enter the workforce directly after graduating from high school or college or after having completed an undergraduate degree.

Jobs in banking available to recent high school graduates

Higher apprenticeships, also known as level 4 apprenticeships, are often filled by recent college grads hired by the retail and corporate sections of financial institutions. Recruiters will often want candidates to have at least two solid A levels (grades A* to C) or a particular amount of UCAS points, in addition to five or more GCSEs with grades A* to C/9 to 4, including English and mathematics. Experience working with customers is another quality that recruiters could look for.

Some retail and corporate banking divisions will first hire college graduates into front-line roles (at a local branch or within its call center), where they will work for up to six months before being progressed onto the apprenticeship scheme. These front-line roles can be found in either retail or corporate banking. It is dependent on both the training program and the bank as to whether or not college graduates are immediately enrolled in the training program after leaving college.

Graduate opportunities in the banking industry

Graduate programs in retail and corporate banking are available to recent college graduates as well as students in their final year of study toward a bachelor's or master's degree who have already obtained or are on track to obtain a 2.1, which is the second highest degree classification, in any degree program. Most businesses will also have minimal GCSE (or similar) requirements.

Obtaining a university degree with a grade point average of 2.1 or above is often required in order to work in investment banking. The majority of investment banks will consider job applications from recent graduates of any academic field and any university. However, a technical degree or a degree with a considerable amount of information technology (IT) content, such as degrees in computer science/information technology or software engineering, is required for admission to the majority of technological divisions. In addition, investment banks often look for graduates from "elite colleges" when hiring new employees. If you want to acquire a graduate position in this sector of banking, having a relevant internship on your CV is nearly as important as having relevant work experience.


The majority of individuals join the field of insurance via either a formalized apprenticeship, a school-leaver program, or a graduate degree.

Opportunities for a new graduate in the insurance industry

The level 4 higher apprenticeship in insurance is the most suitable way into the industry for school/college leavers with A levels or equivalent who do not want to go to university – it is equivalent to a higher national certificate (HNC) or roughly one year of university. This is because the level 4 higher apprenticeship in insurance is roughly equivalent to both of these educational paths. There are a variety of entry criteria for the various insurance firms; nevertheless, the most of them demand a certain minimum number of UCAS points (two or three excellent A levels) and a certain minimum number of GCSEs with grades ranging from A* to C/9 to 4, including English and mathematics. It is possible to go from a level 4 higher apprenticeship to a level 6 higher apprenticeship, which is equivalent to a degree. There is no level 5 available.

The training will, across all programs, lead to professional certifications that are certified by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), which is a professional organization for those who work in the business. The more advanced the apprenticeship, the more advanced the certification to which it may lead. For instance, if you start the business as an apprentice at level 4, it is normal for employers to anticipate that you would advance to level 6 after obtaining certain certificates that are approved by the CII. After that, you'll be able to work your way up to level 7 (the same level as a masters degree). Ongoing education and assistance are both at your disposal.

Graduate opportunities in the insurance industry

Different employers have a variety of entry points for college grads into the business. However, the overwhelming majority of insurance providers will need a minimum number of UCAS points in addition to a degree with at least a 2.1 or first-class classification (the second highest and highest grades respectively). Some businesses are open to applicants holding degrees in any field, while others place more value on applicants holding degrees in fields that are directly relevant to their work or those that include a significant amount of mathematics. Degrees in information technology or other related fields are often required for IT jobs. Be cautious to examine what each business is looking for before applying to jobs since some of them need subjects studied at the A level.

Graduate programs usually continue for two to three years, however this might vary depending on the area of the insurance industry that you want to work in. The attainment of professional certifications applicable to the field of business will be a requirement of these activities. As an example, this will be an ACII for positions involving either underwriting or insurance broking. If you work in the finance and accounting department of an insurance company, you will be required to work towards obtaining qualifications that are accredited by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). You may get more information about professional credentials and the organizations that award them by reading the article that we have written on professional qualifications.

Actuarial careers

There are fewer possibilities for high school graduates to enter the field of actuarial science than there are vacancies for graduate students, but there are still a few programs to pick from.

Careers in actuarial science for high school graduates

There are a few businesses that provide apprenticeships in actuarial work to high school graduates. Employers would often demand a particular set of A level and GCSE grades and courses in order for candidates to even be considered for actuarial programmes at this level (or equivalent). After enrolling in the program, which normally lasts for two or three years, your company will provide financial support for you to study for the professional actuarial tests administered by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, which are recognized globally (IFoA). As soon as you've met the requirements, you'll be inducted into the IFoA as a fellow.

Actuarial occupations for graduates

The majority of firms need or prefer candidates to have a degree in a numerate field such as mathematics, economics, or statistics. In addition, graduates will often be required to have an A level in mathematics, typically at a grade B or above, or another qualification that is considered comparable. Employed trainees in the field of actuarial science are obligated to pursue professional credentials via the IFoA; specifically, they will study for an associateship. Once it has been attained, trainees will be allowed to formally call themselves an actuary and add the initials AIA or AFA after their name. Additionally, they will be able to choose between two different designations. After this, associates have the opportunity to pursue a fellowship and, once they have done so, they may append the initials FIA or FFA to the end of their names. Graduates may often count on employers' help and sponsorship in order to complete these certifications.

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