In this new blog from Career Savvy, the team look at how to get into Accounting and Finance.
Whether it’s banking, accountancy, insurance or pensions, there is always scope in the financial services sector. As long as the UK is making and spending money, people will be required to manage it, plan how to use it and identify the best uses for it.
Finance attracts school-leavers and graduates from a range of different backgrounds. Graduates studying accounting or business studies (the most popular degree subjects in the UK) are often drawn to finance roles. There are also lots of opportunities for maths graduates and those with scientific backgrounds – due to the amount of maths involved in their degrees. Lots of large companies in the UK also employ school-leavers as apprentices and trainees – working towards qualifications combined with workplace training.
Despite having its ups and downs, the finance sector has always remained fairly vast. This is because its services are required and used by every type of business, as well as individuals. As a result, there will always be room for teams and organisations to grow – especially as the economy is beginning to pick up.
Graduate salaries in finance roles boast some of the highest levels there are – especially in London and corporate finance positions. Consequently, competition for jobs is high as lots of graduates go for the same vacancies. For the top graduate programmes, Monster reported roughly fifty applications received per vacancy. Graduate salaries can start from £24K, depending on the location.
A big pull factor into the finance world is that it can boast good prospects for career development. Although it can be competitive to get into, the sector is so broad that there is a lot of scope for movement and promotion. Employers that take on apprentices or graduates through schemes want the staff they invest in to become assets for the company and to become the future business leaders.
Chartered accountants work for clients – organisations or private customers – to provide a range of services. It includes managing payrolls, devising budgets, creating reports on expenditure and handling client relationships. It can also involve analysis of proposed business plans and elements of financial planning, forecasting and risk analysis. After obtaining a degree, you’ll have to train to qualify as an accountant, which takes about three years. Your degree doesn’t have to be relevant to finance or business, but you’ll need to demonstrate a solid academic record. There are different ways to train to become an accountant, so have a look at some here.
Working in banking will generally see you specialise in a certain area, such as mortgages, corporate finance, investment banking, etc. There are many different roles within banking that can see you taking on varying tasks which include researching, trading and analysis. Corporate and investment banking offer the highest salaries – not just in the finance sector, but across all sectors. The banking world can involve long hours that exceed your typical nine to five, but the rewards and progression can be significantly higher compared to other sectors. For more information, see the Investment Management Association website.
For the majority of roles in the finance sector, you’ll need to be pretty nifty with numbers. Many of the tasks involve a lot of calculation, as well as data management and the presentation of this data (think graphs and charts). Data analysis is also required, so you would need to be able to identify changes, averages and erroneous information in order to provide accurate reports.
Successful employees in the finance sector are the ones that put in time and effort to ensure their work is accurate. This is hugely important in finance as mistakes can not only look unprofessional, but also lead to the wrong business decisions being made. If you make sure your work is correct every time, you could be a good match for this sector.
A great deal of finance roles include interfacing with clients. As well as managing the accounts and finances, you will need to manage the relationship with the client or customer, ensuring that you provide an exceptional service and are a good ambassador for the company.