Banking & Finance Overview

From commercial banking to stockbroking, there are so many ways to work in finance. Discover your options here – and learn how to get started in your new finance career!

Careers in Banking & Finance

If you love money, numbers, and finding the best ways to save and invest your cash, a career in banking and finance could suit you perfectly!

This is a huge sector with lots of different types of jobs. Where you want to focus your banking and finance career all depends on your goals for satisfaction.

Do you love working with customers? A retail banking position could suit you.
Are you quick with numbers and great at sales? Investment banking is the route to choose.

Do you want to help businesses with their accounts? Consider becoming a finance manager.

The main areas of banking and finance jobs include:

  • Investment banking
  • Stockbroking
  • Wealth management
  • Financial advice and financial planning
  • Mortgage brokering
  • Insurance underwriting and brokering
  • Commercial (retail) banking
  • Accountancy

Who Works in Banking and Finance Jobs?

This sector is more diverse than many might think. There’s a growing movement to encourage men and women from all backgrounds to enter the banking profession.

In fact, there are several routes into banking that don’t require the traditional degree route. Apprenticeships and vocational career paths in both investment and commercial banking are becoming more common.

To qualify for some roles, such as a financial advisor, you don’t need a degree either. Instead, you can study a Level 4 Diploma – often part-time and alongside a junior role that adds to your work experience.

Investment Banking

An investment bank doesn’t take deposits from customers. Instead, it is responsible for raising capital from investors and using this to support businesses who need a cash injection.

They provide advisory services to businesses, governments, and public organisations about things like mergers and acquisitions, and taking a company public to the stock market.

To work in investment banking, you’ll need to have an appetite for a high-demand and fast-paced environment. You’ll need to be good with numbers and great with people, as much of the work involves negotiating between parties or providing detailed financial advice to customers.

You’ll need a degree to go into investment banking. Choose something like a Banking and Finance degree – ideally one with ‘investment’ in the degree title. For example, the London Institute of Banking and Finance offers a BSc in Finance, Investment, and Risk.

To stand out when applying for investment banking graduate jobs, consider taking an internship first. This is unpaid (or minimally paid) but gives you valuable work experience – and helps you build your network, too.

Stockbroking

If the Wolf of Wall Street told us anything, it’s that stockbroking offers the opportunity to become rich beyond belief.

In reality, it involves a lot of hard work, stress, and long days. If you’re prepared to put the work in to reap the rewards, it can be worth it.
Stockbrokers advise their clients on the best stocks and shares to invest in – and when it’s time to sell them to make a profit. Brokers take a cut of each trade as their commission – so the larger the trade, the bigger the pay packet.

This is a high-risk industry. You could be golden one moment and down the next – it’s all about anticipating the market before it rises and falls.

To become a stockbroker, you’ll usually need a degree in finance or a qualification in financial regulation. You can enter the career through vocational routes, such as an apprenticeship, although these are fairly hard to come by.

Wealth Management

This is the top end of financial planning and advice. You’ll work with High Net Worth (HNW) individuals and businesses to make sure they’re using their resources as smartly as possible.

Some wealth management organisations specialise in one particular area of finance – but most offer a full-service overview. That means you’ve got the opportunity to find a niche in wealth management, such as tax, estate planning, or investment advice, and work your way up the ladder that way.
To work in wealth management, you’ll need a solid grasp of investments, financial planning, and the needs of HNW (High Net Worth) individuals.

You’ll have to be a qualified financial advisor, too.

Financial Advisor and Financial Planning

That takes us nicely to becoming a financial advisor. You can become an advisor attached to a corporation, such as a mortgage advisor in a retail bank, or an independent advisor.

Becoming an independent advisor allows you to take a self-employed route and gives you wider access to the full open market of financial rates and deals for your clients. A tied advisor is limited in what they can sell, as they’re obliged to sell the product of their corporation.

You don’t need a university degree to become a financial advisor – but it can help set you apart from other candidates in a competitive field.

At the minimum, financial advisors need to complete a Level 4 qualification in financial advice that’s approved by the Financial Conduct Authority, such as the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.

You can use this as a starting point and work your way towards professional competency (and chartered status) by finding a job as a trainee or financial support assistant.

Commercial Banking

Commercial banking involves your high street banks. From the tellers at the desk to the managers signing off loans, there are a huge number of roles available.

Many commercial banks have their own mortgage and insurance brokers and financial advisors, too.

You won’t need a degree for some roles, such as welcome assistants or desk clerks in a branch – but you will if you want to get into a management position.

Insurance Underwriting and Brokering

Insurance is a whole industry in itself! In the finance world, however, you’ll find insurance underwrites major banks as well as individuals taking out mortgages. It’s a hugely varied field that involves a high level of data processing and analysis.

If you’re more interested in risk management than financial transactions, insurance could be the way to go. You’ll still work with major banks, financial planners, and wealth managers – but you’ll be providing their clients with insurance products.

Three main types of insurance job exist:

  • Insurance analysts (actuaries)
  • Insurance broker
  • Insurance claims inspectors.

The actuaries look at the risk assessment and the likelihood of events happening. This helps insurance providers assess what to charge for their product: the more likely an event is to happen, the higher the insurance charge.
Brokers act as intermediaries between financial organisations or advisors and their end clients. They help to find the right product for each individual request, and earn commission from the sale of each product.

Insurance claims inspectors are the ones who decide whether a claim is valid and should be paid out, invalid and refused, or even fraudulent and reported.
For all of these roles, an undergraduate degree is the best place to start. You’ll then need to get vocational experience – ideally through a graduate scheme – before gaining chartered status.