The finance sector remains one of the best choices as a career path. As a vital pillar in the business and government worlds, the demand for qualified finance workers will never decrease.
To the outsider, the finance sector can appear daunting. Being a maths-based career, with levels of high risk and responsibility involved depending on the amounts of money handled, many often feel they are under-qualified to pursue a career in finance – but this isn’t true.
The key to building a stable career in finance is knowing where to start. We considered the many routes into the financial sector and have concluded you need to answer just three questions in order to decide whether a career in finance is for you, and which part of finance you should work in:
- Where can I fit into the current job climate in finance?
The UK is a big territory for major companies such as Deloitte, KPMG and PwC, as well as well-known brands such as Barclays, HSBC and Santander. Keep an eye on their employment trends and the kinds of finance workers they are looking for, which are generally an indicator of national trends.
If you’re not interested in working for a major company, or have a specific area of interest, e.g. working for a charity, do your research into the employee profiles of three to five companies you would like to work for. This will help you compile a list of qualifications or experience you need in order to progress.
Changes to the nature of jobs available in finance may change as a result of Brexit. The availability of financial services jobs – mainly retail banking or insurance – is something to keep watch over before you pursue a career. Conversely, jobs in debt management, collection or lending may increase in availability.
- Which route should I take into finance?
There is no set route to take to succeed in the financial sector, and there are many positions that do not require certain qualifications or experiences. All routes can be summarised into four main choices:
- A BA/MA degree in finance, followed by a graduate-level job.
- Higher Education qualifications available as full-time or part-time programmes, such as an AAT diploma or CICM certificate.
- Apprenticeships at certain companies, more often available to school, college and university leavers.
- Entry-level job in administration/payroll departments.
If you are currently studying for a degree, finance or not, companies tend to look for 2:1 or above before offering a graduate position in finance. Depending on what you choose to do in finance, you may be required to take on further qualifications. This tends to be the case in accounting or credit management.
If you are not currently studying, it is possible to enrol on a Higher Education course at any age. Many often take an entry-level role in finance with the option of having further studies funded.
- What type of career do I want to have in finance?
Accounting is often the first career path that comes to mind, but many prospective accountants do not realise the many different types of accounting there are. Accountants can work in advisory, assurance, auditing or tax roles, and have their services used by businesses, private clients, governments and in special cases such as market analytics, fraud investigations and bankruptcy recoveries. All accountants must hold qualifications from a chartered body such as the AAT, ATT or ICAEW.
Another growing career option is in debt, lending and collection. From credit controllers upwards, the need for finance workers in the debt space is ever pertinent. Working with debt means chasing outstanding payments and adjusting payment plans or coming to alternative arrangements if a client faces financial difficulties. Starting routes into a career in the debt space are usually as a credit controller or debt collection agent. Through the educational route, business-related degrees are considered desirable. Through work experience, employees may choose to undertake a Chartered qualification from CICM.
Other popular job choices in the finance sector include banking, both retail and investment (managing the accounts open and soliciting financial products such as ISAs, mortgages and loans to bank members, or following investment strategies for high-value assets entrusted with the bank), investment management (managing assets such as properties or stocks and shares and ensuring investors remain in profit) and in insurance or actuarial roles (underwriting the monetary value of a client’s possessions to insure them against their possible loss, e.g. homes, cars, or working out the statistics for evaluating items for insurance policies based on probability).
If you can answer these three questions, then it’s time to take the next step. If you need more help before choosing a finance career, our recruitment professionals can guide you through the specifics of the different pathways, such as information about particular qualifications or helping you secure work experience.