Looking to Go into the Finance Sector?

The finance industry offers a range of opportunities and diversity for graduates coming from University. Although, as everyone knows, the finance sector is competitive, it can equally provide rewarding potentials and define your skillset.

The financial sector is a section of the economy made up of firms and institutions that provide financial services to commercial and retail customers. The sector also comprises a broad range of industries, that not everyone is aware of, including banks, investment companies, insurance companies and real estate firms.

Why Choose the Finance Sector?

There is much more to this sector than just banking. Financial services are anything that involves providing a service to the finance industry, which can range from providing data and news to making investment and commercial decisions. It is important to realise that you can go into a range of pathways within this one sector.

So, what could your development look like in a few years? Obviously, this can depend on your specific role, but generally in your first few years you will concentrate on learning your industry sector and the principles of data analysis. Whilst you increase your core knowledge, you will also be put to work on project tasks like gathering data, updating spreadsheets, or even running financial models. Some companies will also encourage you to gain accredited qualifications. After about 3 years, you’ll take on more responsibility in interpreting data and passing on your insights to clients.

What are Different Positions and Sectors in Finance?

Some roles that are out there include:

  • Technology, creating the systems and applications that financial companies use.
  • Regulation, setting and policing rules in the finance sector.
  • Compliance, staying on top of the changing financial rules.
  • Data analysis, collecting and interpreting information about your specialist sector to give insights to clients or managers.
  • Journalism, reporting on current financial news.

Some sectors you can work in include:

  • Private banking.
  • Commercial finance.
  • Corporate finance.
  • Financial planning and wealth management.
  • Operations.
  • Specialist markets.
  • Retail and commercial banking.

If you want to learn more about these specific sectors, head to The Bright Network as they provide a range of Bright Complete Guides on each of these areas individually so you can learn more.

Benefits of the Finance Sector?

While some roles can be completely different, a lot of these roles offer a lot of similar benefits.

It is a global industry, which has lots of advantages because it gives you the opportunity to deal with people around the world. You are also likely to have the chance to travel and work abroad to further your global awareness.

Another benefit is the variety of projects you can be involved in. Your role is likely to be varied, challenging, and engaging, and you also might be working with lots of other departments like HR or marketing. 

By having global connections and working with different departments it can increase your networking opportunities. You can develop a solid network both within and outside of your area of expertise that will be valuable for your career progression.

A big benefit that many graduates will be attracted too is the salary. Finance companies pay competitively and after a few years in a role you could be earning over £45,000 with further potentials.

Depending on the role you choose, you can also have the chance to tailor your work-life balance in the way that suits you best. As a compliance officer, for example, you’re likely to have more of a 9-5 job than a finance journalist.

What skills do you need?

Regardless of whether you’re working in the commercial area or as a data analyst in a private bank, you will be dealing with huge amounts of information and data daily.

  1. Hunger to learn – you will need to become an expert quickly, so employers want people that are eager to learn and to develop their skills.
  2. A commercial awareness – you need to be up to date with the latest market movements and if you hear a piece of financial news, be able to know instantly how it could affect your sector.
  3. Analytical and numeracy skills – they need minds that can turn data into insights and can draw conclusions and advice for clients.
  4. Verbal and written communication skills – in any industry based around data, communication is key.
  5. Initiative – while you’ll have plenty of support from your colleagues, you should be able to take initiative on your own research and understanding.
  6. Teamworking – you will be part of the backbone of the finance business, so you need to be a strong team player and enthusiastic about helping your colleagues and collaborating with other departments.

How to Stand Out When Applying?

The finance sector works within a highly competitive graduate market, where lots of qualified and bright graduates are fighting for the same jobs, so you might ask yourself “how do I stand out and get noticed?”

Think creatively. You want to be training your brain to think about potential solutions to problems that the business your applying too faces. Even the smallest thing will demonstrate that you’re engaging with the companies process and thinking logically.

Don’t just go through the motions. Find what you are passionate about and really try to get involved, make sure you show your recruiters that you are excited about the department you are applying to, but that you are open to learning from people elsewhere and taking on board other opportunities.  

Be a digital expert. The big thing for the finance sector at the moment is reinventing themselves for the digital age. Technology is forcing companies to change quickly to match trends and young grads have an advantage in this area by growing up with a technological mindset.

However, the best way to get your foot in the door is through internships and work experience. Although an internship isn’t vital, it can really put you above other applicants because it can prove that you’re committed to enhancing your skill set and interests.

What Finance Graduate Schemes are out there?

Now that you also know what skills you will need and how to stand out, you should be thinking about what graduate roles are out there for you?

Here are just some examples of the top graduate schemes:

  1. NHS Finance Management Graduate Scheme.
  2. Barclays Graduate Schemes; including business banking, customer banking solutions, cyber security and more.
  3. HSBC Graduate Schemes; including global banking, operations and more.
  4. AON Graduate Scheme.
  5. EY Graduate Schemes; including tax, transactions, consulting and more.