Why work in financial services?
19 November 2019
In 2018, the financial services sector contributed £132 billion to the UK economy and there were 1.1 million financial services jobs in the country. If you’re thinking of joining this growing sector, there are many reasons to be encouraged. In this post, we explore some of the top motivations for entering this dynamic and exciting industry. We also offer advice on how to take your first steps on this career path.
Why do you want to work in financial services?
There are many reasons you might be considering a career in this field. It’s well known that certain jobs within the finance sector can be very lucrative. Even at entry level, they often have highly competitive salaries. A survey carried out by the Institute of Student Employers revealed that, in 2019, the median graduate starting salary in finance and professional services among its members was £30,125. This was second only to the legal sector.
But impressive earnings potential is far from the only reason to consider entering this field. Another major benefit of working in finance is the wealth of opportunities that exist for career progression. From mortgage advisers to investment managers, jobs in finance often involve mandatory study towards specific qualifications. Achieving these qualifications can help you to expand your skill set and knowledge base, making you more valuable to employers. Closely related to this point, finance jobs often encourage you to climb the career ladder. If you’re ambitious and you’re prepared to put in the work, you could go far – and fast.
There are also many different specialisms within finance, so you shouldn’t struggle to find roles that suit your particular interests and play to your strengths. The industry spans sectors as diverse as banking, insurance and regulation – and within these fields, there are many different roles available.
Job satisfaction can be very high in this industry too. In fact, a survey of more than 2,000 UK workers carried out by experience management company Qualtrics revealed that job satisfaction levels were highest among workers in the finance sector, at 74 per cent.
How to get into financial services
It’s clear to see why finance is a popular career path, but how can you get a job in this field? There are a number of different approaches, some of which are academic while others are vocational. Here are the main options.
A degree in a relevant subject
One route is to complete a degree in a relevant subject, which could be anything from accountancy to financial services or business management. Once you finish a course like this, you could apply to join a financial services business in a role such as a trainee adviser.
A specialist vocational course
Alternatively, you may decide to do a vocational course. For example, if you want to become a mortgage adviser, you could complete the Certificate in Mortgage Advice & Practice (CeMAP®). Approved by the Financial Conduct Authority, it is the benchmark qualification for this specialism. One of the advantages of courses like this is the fact that they can be highly flexible. You may have the option of choosing between fast track classroom-based learning and e-learning, which gives you the chance to complete the course at your own pace and means you can fit your studies around other responsibilities more easily.
Apprenticeships are also a good route into finance jobs. These training programmes give you hands-on experience while you learn, and importantly they enable you to earn a salary while you’re building your knowledge and skills. An apprenticeship is designed to prepare you for a specific job role and it will lead to a qualification from a body such as the Chartered Insurance Institute or London Institute of Banking & Finance, depending on the specific programme that you enter into.
You can also get your foot in the door of this industry by gaining on-the-job experience. For instance, you could start as a customer services adviser or financial services administrator in a bank and then work your way up. Bear in mind that if you start off in this way, you’ll need to gain qualifications as you go in order to progress.