In 2018, the financial services industry contributed around 7% to the UK’s GDP, equating to roughly £132 billion, half of which came from London alone. Financial Services is a great and diverse profession, offering varied career paths for individuals across the sectors within the industry. There are many points of entry and loads of great ways to kickstart your career which you will see explained in this blog.
2020 has been a very strange year for students. A record-breaking year of results was based on CAG’s (centre assessed grades) and the pass rate was up around 9% compared to last year. Many BTEC students were disappointed to see results being pulled just hours before they were set to receive them.
However, despite the exam fiasco, students remain focused on their future career aspirations, often choosing between the two main options. Taking the practical and vocational approach in the form of an apprenticeship or furthering academic study with A-Levels. Both can be great options but are different in makeup.
If you are going into A-levels…
Usually, this would mean you have the hope to progress on to University. Therefore, picking subjects centred towards the financial sector could be beneficial. Subjects such as Maths, Further Maths, Core Maths, Economics, Business and Computer Science all being great ways to think about getting started. Often a high grade in maths is a prerequisite for many degree level courses. However, to get onto these A-level subjects, many sixth form colleges will require a high grade in mathematics at GCSE, so if you are taking exams in 2021, get revising!
If you are going into an apprenticeship…
Other students may be tired with traditional learning in a classroom and would much prefer to kickstart their career in financial services with some practical experience. Apprenticeships have many benefits and in most cases offers the opportunity to “earn while you learn”. Often many of these apprenticeships are junior and it is not uncommon to begin as a Financial Services Administrator to learn the ropes, before progressing through the ranks, in line with your skills and knowledge increasing. Just as the industry of financial services is broad, so are the apprenticeship opportunities. There are great free resources available online, such as Amazing Apprenticeships and the government ‘find an apprenticeship’ website. Alternatively, give us a call or email, we could look to help provide advice and guidance tailored to your situation.
A last-minute U-turn in August 2020 saw A-level students be given the CAG’s (centre assessed grades) instead of algorithm generated grades. The algorithm saw around 280,000 grades fall by 1 or more grade. After the change, many students achieved what they deserved and changed their plans for the upcoming academic year.
If you are going into University…
Degrees relating to actuarial science are the 5th most searched for degree in the UK, according to The Complete University Guide. As previously stated, a degree is a good option for many looking to pursue a career in the financial sector. Some words of advice could be:
- Look for degrees with a year in industry as these can help boost your job opportunities post-university. Most Uni’s will offer something along these lines and they may be called a “placement year” or a “year in industry”. This year includes a year outside of traditional studies to gain some real, paid experience living on your own, potentially around the world. Alternatively, you could try and gain a summer internship as these can also provide good first-hand experience to recruiters and employers alike
- Study hard, as this could be the deciding factor between you and another candidate for the same job. Graduate job opportunities regularly attract high levels of applications, what can you do to increase your chances?
- Apply for jobs early on, you can call us on 0208 0044 154 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org when you are nearing the end of your degree to discuss your potential next steps.
If you are going into an apprenticeship…
Apprenticeships have massively changed over the last decade, from their social perception to the value they can provide for employees and employers alike. Read our previous blog to gain insight into the benefits of apprenticeships for employers. You can even obtain an honours degree from a respected and established university if you are lucky enough! However a degree apprenticeship may not always be appropriate for the role you are pursuing, instead, apprenticeships offering qualifications such as your CeMAP or DipFA may be more appropriate if your desire relates to the financial planning or mortgage advisory professions. More and more businesses, networks and training providers are offering apprenticeships specifically designed for individuals to become Financial Advisors and Mortgage Advisors
If you are going into your first job…
Your first ‘career job’ can always be a daunting thought, even before you secure it! So, before you think about applying make sure you go over some of our other specialist blogs to help boost your chances during the application process. A great place to start would be our blog on “How to write a CV (for financial services)” or impress your prospective employer with topical news within the financial services industry by reading our blog titled “4 impacts of coronavirus on financial services”.
If you are taking a year off…
A gap year is often a popular choice for people finishing formalised education and has shifted from part-time work with part-time travel and has become a much more varied option. Many people now use this time to gain specific work experience related to their desired industry or use the time to try different various jobs to find their passion and chosen career path.
- Know your goal(s) – This can only be done by trying new things, talking to people and networking. The more you do, the better.
- Work hard – Financial Services is a tough and competitive industry, so you will need to be one step ahead of your competition, whether that’s getting that higher grade at university or by getting that extra week of work experience in the summer or your gap year.
- Talk to us – No matter what stage you are at, we may have something for you whether that be a graduate training scheme or your first admin job with the promise of progressing to a qualified Financial Adviser, we can help you in that journey.
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