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Financial services Career Pathways For School Leavers

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Overview



The industry is responsible for managing money and assets of businesses or paying customers, as well as dealing with investing and lending. The financial services industry covers:

  • Commercial (or high street) banking

  • Investment banking

  • Financial advisors

  • Hedge funds

  • Private equity

  • Tax insurance

Often, those working in financial services will be required to continue with their education while working. This means that with hard work, discipline and determination, a person can progress into more senior roles fairly quickly.

Skills

If you’re interested in a career in the financial sector, you’ll need to have a good head for numbers. You’ll frequently be required to coordinate with other departments (such as the marketing or sales department) so you’ll benefit from having great communication and teamwork skills while also being able to work comfortably on your own.

Negotiation is a core skill that you’ll likely need at some point during your career too. More skills include:

- Ability to Work Under Pressure
- Commercial Awareness
- Communication
- Finance
- Financial Planning
- Presentation Skills
- Problem Solving
- Teamwork

Progression opportunities

Apprenticeships are now offered at all levels and across every sector of the financial industry. Completing one allows individuals to qualify as highly skilled specialists and taking this route can really help you progress in your career.

Job titles differ greatly across each sector and will, therefore, depend upon which one you choose to concentrate on with your apprenticeship. However, individuals can go on to be responsible for leading teams as well as delivering on core areas or services of businesses.

More information can be found on the Institute for Apprenticeships.

Career development

All financial services roles require some expertise and/or technical knowledge, so it’s very likely that you’ll need to complete some sector-specific training. Every part of the industry has its own professional bodies. Some of these include:

  • Retail banking: The London Institute of Banking & Finance, Chartered Banker Institute (CBI)

  • Commercial Business banking: The London Institute of Banking & Finance, Chartered Banker Institute (CBI)

  • Workplace pensions: Pensions Management Institute (PMI)

  • Investment management: Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)/Personal Finance Society, The London Institute of Banking & Finance, CFA Institute/CFA UK, Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment (CISI)

  • Investment banking: CFA Institute/CFA UK; The London Institute of Banking & Finance

  • Operations: Chartered Banker Institute (CBI; Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM), The London Institute of Banking & Finance; Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment (CISI)

The relevant professional bodies in whichever part of finance you’re working in will be able to advise on courses, and might even run some themselves.

Earning potential

As an apprentice, you’ll earn a minimum of £3.70 per hour if you’re under 19 or in the first year of your apprenticeship, or the National Minimum Wage if you’re over 19. This works out at around £150 - £240 per week.

The industry is known for paying its professionals generously and this applies to all sectors. Investment banking, for example, also rewards hardworking professionals with bonuses that can significantly boost their basic salary.

The average salaries for a range of financial services roles, according to PayScale, are included below:

  • Private banker: £58,748

  • Investment banker: £60,000 + bonus

  • Tax manager: £47,549

  • Insurance underwriter: £26,388

  • Insurance broker: £25,867

  • Hedge fund manager: £83,600

  • Portfolio manager: £57,300

  • Investment strategist: £113,700

Qualification requirements & subjects to study

To get a job in this sector as a school leaver, it’s a good idea to undertake a vocational qualification. A diploma, certificate or short course that’s regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) can give you the practical skills you need to get a job in this sector.

Professional organisations such as the FSA, as well as colleges, can provide these qualifications.

Alternatively, you could look at apprenticeships in finance. Apprenticeships will see you studying and working for a company at the same time. You will work alongside experienced staff and will have one day off per week to study, usually at a local technical college or equivalent. This can be a great route for those who don’t want to go to university.

Further Reading

Royal Economic Society
British Insurance Brokers’ Association
Association of British Insurers (ABI)
Chartered Insurance Institute
Chartered Institute of Taxation
The Association of Taxation Technicians
UK Finance
The National Skills Academy for Financial Services
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
The Prudential Regulation Authority
British Bankers Association

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