Financial jobs: University isn’t the only way

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Financial jobs: university isn’t the only way

We probably all have an idea of what ‘working in finance’ involves, but there’s a lot more to this career path than the stereotype of the shouty stock broker who studied at an exclusive university.

Going to university isn’t the only way to pursue a career in finance, banking or accountancy. In this guide we’ll take a (broad) look at some of the different job roles that are available, what skills are required, and how to get into finance.

‘University isn't the only way to get an exciting, well-paid job in finance. Find out how’

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Financial services

Financial services basically means helping people with their cash. It’s a broad field that includes advising customers about their money, doing cash withdrawals, and selling and managing insurance policies.

What skills do I need?

Good concentration skills, the ability to multi-task and adaptability are must-haves for this sector.

How to get into finance: don't overlook apprenticeships

What path can I take?

When it comes to thinking about how to get into finance, make sure you consider doing an apprenticeship. Finance apprenticeships pay you to train in roles like cashier, customer adviser, financial advice administrator, or mortgage administrator

Investment management

Investment management, aka asset management, is all about giving people and business advice about how to invest their money.

There are 7 main areas in investment management, covering everything from cracking technology puzzles to customer service. Some of these roles might surprise you: check them out here.

What skills do I need?

Teamwork skills and an analytical mindset are good starting points for a career in investment management.

What path can I take?

A degree is one option to working in investment management. But you can also do a training programme straight from school. Investment2020 is an organisation that links you with companies in the investment management industry. Their year-long scheme is called the “Investment2020 Training Programme”, and you can apply straight from school and college. As a trainee with one of the employers, you’ll earn a salary while gaining lots of valuable skills and hands-on experience.

This guide gives you a full run-down of exactly what investment management is, and the different paths you can take to bag yourself a great job.


Roles include tax accountant (helping companies to pay their income tax and save money); forensic accountant (giving expert evidence in law courts) auditor (checking company accounts to make sure they‘re legit).

Accountants can rise up the ranks of companies to become finance directors.

What skills do I need?

To get into accountancy you’ll need commercial awareness, leadership skills and communication abilities. It helps to be good with numbers but you don’t actually need to be a maths pro,

What path can I take?

There are two main routes to becoming an accountant. You can study for a degree at university (you’ll need at least grade 4 in maths and English at GCSE to apply) then there’s up to 4 years of training to become what’s called a “chartered accountant”.

The second option is to do an apprenticeship. This is essentially a training programme where you study towards becoming an accountant while working (and being paid!) at the same time. Learn more about the ins and outs of accountancy apprenticeships.

Don’t forget to check out our Accountancy Career Zone which gives you a complete overview of skills, qualifications and career routes. 

Retail banking

Retail banks (also known as high-street banks) helping ordinary people borrow and save money. If you’re interested in this kind of financial job, you could work in:

  • Customer service: As a cashier, or as a telephone advisor.
  • Financial advice: Specialising in credit, mortgages or personal finance.
  • Management: Running a bank branch or taking a senior role at head office.
  • Marketing: Thinking up ways to bring in new customers and keep the old ones too.
  • Private banking: Dealing with ‘high net worth’ individuals with large amounts of money to invest.

What skills do I need?

A knack for customer service and great people skills are really important for retail banking jobs.

What path can I take?

There are lots of different banking apprenticeships so you don’t necessarily need to go to university. Check out this special guide to retail banking jobs and how to get there


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