What are the main educational routes into a financial career?

The UK’s financial sector is believed to add over £170bn to the British economy every single year. With figures like that on the table, it’s clear that there must be a large finance workforce pushing for this kind of growth – and it’s one that many young people dream of entering. There are lots of routes into finance, but the main one is study: from enrolling in a degree in a relevant topic to showing your skills through A-levels, making sensible educational choices from a young age is vital for landing that all-important first finance job.

Degree choices

If you’re seeking entry into the financial sector at a high level, then it’s likely that you’ll also be seriously considering completing a degree. It is, after all, a prerequisite: you need to have been to university in order to get onto a graduate scheme at a City of London bank such as HSBC. Choosing a degree wisely is essential. Opting for an obvious course such as economics or mathematics is one option, while studying an essay subject can show critical thinking and other important skills.

As the FT case study of LSBF shows, Britain has excellent institutions to study at – but while many of them are focused on London, there are also great courses on offer in other British cities. When choosing an institution, you should also double-check that you’ll be able to take up an internship at a bank in between your second and third year. This is the part of the degree that in many ways really matters, as entering the financial sector as a graduate often relies on completing a placement like this.

A-level subjects

Entering the financial sector in Britain doesn’t have to occur at a graduate level though. Plenty of places offer training as you work, and if you want to work in a high street bank or other community-focused financial institution, then you might not even need a degree at all. It’s probably a good idea, though, to stay on at school and study A-levels, as this will help mark you out.

Choosing your A-levels with your career in mind is a sensible move. Maths is a good choice, but it’s also a tough course – and it’s not necessarily something that you’ll need, especially if you want to work in a customer-facing role. Finance isn’t just about adding up figures – and while most employees will need numerical skills, it’s also valuable to have good communication and problem-solving skills. Rigorous humanities subjects such as history, English literature and other essay-based subjects can certainly provide you with these.

Working in the UK’s finance sector is a great idea for many people with either numerical or problem-solving skills, and the diversity of roles on offer means that there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re planning to study a degree subject or you want to stick at A-level grade, there will be an opportunity that fits your skills and experiences somewhere in this large, growing and dynamic sector.

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