Finance remains one of the strongest parts of the UK economy. The financial and insurance services sector contributed more than £120 billion in gross value added to the UK economy in 2016, employing more than one million people in the process. It’s a part of the economy in which the UK has a surplus with its partners too – making it vital for the future of the nation’s finances as we leave the European Union.
It’s easy, therefore, to see why you would want to pursue a career in this sector.
However, while there are many opportunities to work in the finance sector – and many of these are well rewarded – it’s not straightforward to get in to. Have you got what it takes for a career in finance? Here’s a few things to consider:
If you don’t have a degree, you’ll struggle to receive a top job in this sector. That degree doesn’t have to be finance-related, however. Faye Woodhead, a senior graduate recruiter at Deutsche Bank, explained: “Your degree subject will always matter from a knowledge and learning perspective, but we provide really robust training programmes for our interns and graduates that enables those who don’t have finance or economics degrees to contribute in a similar way to those who do.” Still, it’s fair to say that without a finance related degree, you might draw a few surprised looks and be forced to explain/prove yourself in the eyes of some colleagues.
However, your learning doesn’t end at university. You need to show a willingness to continue your education through further training programmes once you’ve got your foot in the door. This will help you to climb the latter and work up towards the most lucrative positions in the industry. You need, therefore, to have the drive and determination for continued professional development to make it in finance.
Similarly, that drive and determination needs to be manifested in a passion for the industry. Can you go into an interview and wax lyrical about your love of finance? You need to be able to demonstrate a passion for the sector and an in-depth knowledge of what it entails. Plenty of people are clever enough, but not all of them are the ‘right fit’ for a bank or finance firm. If you can wow them with you love of a good forex calendar or your insight into the fluctuations of the FTSE100 then you’ll be able to demonstrate that you mean business. Prior experience or a willingness to complete an internship are also good signs of this.
Similarly you need to have the right character traits to be able to cope. While, clearly, there are lots of different finance jobs, most require you to be able to think clearly under pressure, handle and analyse large amounts of data and be comfortable with challenging targets, a big workload and long hours. In many jobs in this sector, you’ll also have to be able to handle queries from customers and clients in a professional manner.
If this combination of character and qualifications fits your circumstances then you might well have what it takes to make a long and successful career in the finance sector.
Ben is an accomplished and experienced freelance writer who has featured in a number of high profile publications and websites. If he’s not reading the financial times you’ll find him listening to live music or at the coast surfing.