My Financial Career

Routes into financial services

No matter what stage you've reached in your career or education, there are plenty of job opportunities in financial services. 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 people. So as long as you're 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 several routes into the industry, from school-leaver schemes and apprenticeships to graduate training schemes and internships.

Finding 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. And, increasingly, many companies now expect prospective employees to have gained some form work experience before they apply for a role.

This is why most large financial services companies offer formal internship placements for university students throughout the summer. They are usually taken in the summer of the second year of a three-year degree. This allows students to gain first-hand experience of working full-time in the industry, while enabling the company to see how students cope with a high-pressure environment. Students who successfully complete a summer internship are often offered a graduate role on completing their degree.

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

Details of internships can usually be found on the careers pages of financial services company websites or on recruitment websites. 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 if you want to work in financial services. Many successful financial services professionals join straight from school and work their way up.

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

Most financial services company websites have details of their trainee and school-leaver schemes. With these, you’ll be expected to learn on the job and in some cases study for more qualifications.

The careers pages of financial services companies or recruitment sites will often give details of opportunities for school leavers. Alternatively, try the direct approach by asking companies you like if they have any opportunities.

The other option is to think about doing an apprenticeship.

Increasingly, many young people are choosing to do apprenticeships, where they can earn while they learn. Most people look for apprenticeships once they complete secondary school. Many of the entry requirements include at least GCSE Maths and English.

The financial services industry offers a range of apprenticeships 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 gained a degree before considering them for graduate training or fast-track schemes. It's not vital to have a Maths degree, but most will expect you to have at least a 2:1 in your chosen subject.

Many financial services companies offer graduate training schemes, where you undergo further training and in some cases areexpected to study for – and obtain – more qualifications, before being offered a permanent role. Details of graduate training schemes can usually be found on the careers web pages of financial services companies.

Alternatively – and particularly for some banking roles – graduates are expected to do an internship before being considered for a role.

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

Many financial services companies 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 you may find useful.

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



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

To get onto an agency’s books, you’ll first need to find out whether they 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 jobs boards for more information.

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