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My Financial Career

Routes Into The Financial Services Industry

No matter what stage you are at either in your career or education there are lots of job opportunities in the financial services industry. You could join straight from school, study for a degree first, or even “earn while you learn”.


Financial services companies are always looking for talented and motivated young people to join them. So as long as you are willing to work hard and are keen to learn, it really doesn’t matter how old you are or how much experience you have.

There are a number of different routes into the industry, from school leaver programmes and apprenticeships to graduate training schemes and internships.

Getting a work experience placement or an internship is often called “getting your foot in the door”. They are a great way to begin your career in financial services. And, increasingly, many companies will now expect that prospective employees will have gained some form work experience prior to applying for a role.

As such, most large financial services companies offer formal internship placements for university students throughout the summer months, usually taken in the summer of the second year of a three year degree programme. This allows the students to gain first-hand experience of what it will be like working full time in the industry, while giving the company the chance to see how students cope with the demands of working in a high-pressure environment. Many students who successfully complete a summer internship are often offered a graduate role upon completing their degree.

For the banks and larger financial services companies, internship placements are usually part of a formal scheme, lasting anywhere from a 8 weeks to 10 weeks, in which interns will work in a variety of roles across the company. In some cases, interns will also be paid a pro-rata salary for their time.

Details of internships can usually be found on the careers pages of financial services companies or on recruitment sites. Alternatively, try approaching companies that you’d like to work for directly to ask if they have any opportunities.

Going to university is not the only option available to those who want to work in the financial services industry. Many successful financial services professionals joined straight from school and worked their way up.

Increasingly, many financial services companies themselves have realised that it’s not always university students who make the best candidates and, provided you are willing to work hard, show initiative and want to learn, there will be opportunities available. That said, most financial services companies will expect you to have basic skills, so you’ll need to have at least a grade C GCSE in both English and Maths.

Most financial services companies will have details of trainee and school leaver programmes on their websites. With such schemes, you’ll be expected to learn on the job and in some cases study for additional qualifications.

Details of opportunities for school leavers can usually be found on the careers pages of financial services companies or on recruitment sites. Alternatively, try approaching companies that you’d like to work for direct to ask if they have any opportunities.

The other option is to think about doing an apprenticeship.

Increasingly, many young people are choosing to undertake apprenticeships, where they can earn while they learn. Most people look for apprenticeships once they complete secondary school and many of the entry requirements will state the need for GCSE Maths and English as a minimum.

The financial services industry offers a range of apprenticeship options for young people who want to develop their skills while earning a salary.


Apprenticeships facts

  • A real paid job
  • Relevant skills and training
  • Professional experience
  • Recognised industry qualifications
  • No tuition fees or student debt
  • Open to new recruits or existing employees

Find out more

Most financial services companies now expect potential recruits to have already obtained a degree before considering them for their graduate training or fast-track programmes. While it is not vital that you have a maths degree, most will expect you to have obtained at least a 2:1 classification.

Lots of financial services companies offer graduate training schemes, where you will undergo further training and in some cases be expected to study for – and pass – additional qualifications, before being offered a permanent role. Details of graduate training schemes can usually be found on the careers pages of financial services companies.

Alternatively – and particularly for some banking roles – graduates will be expected to undertake an internship before being considered for a role.

For details of graduate schemes, visit the careers pages of companies you might want to work for in the financial services industry or look at some of the online recruitment websites.

Many financial services companies will post vacancies on general and specialist online recruitment sites, so it's worth keeping an eye on some of the most popular jobs boards. Below is a list of specialist and general recruitment sites that you may find useful.

You should bear in mind that online vacancies are seen by hundreds of thousands of people, so you'll need to make your CV stand out from the crowd in order to get noticed.



Recruitment agencies can be a very effective way of taking the first steps to employment. Many financial services companies will work directly with recruitment agencies to act on their behalf in finding suitable candidates. Similarly, they will also work with job applicants to match them directly with suitable roles.

To get onto an agency’s books, you’ll need to find out whether any specialise in the kind of roles you are looking for and send in your CV with a covering letter. They will be able to advise you on what you will need to do to get in front of potential employers. Take a look at the jobs board page for more information.

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