Alternative Routes In To Financial Services
12 April 2017
You could be forgiven for thinking that, in order to go far in the Financial Services sector (or any regulated industry for that matter) you have to have been to university and undertaken a traineeship.
However, it is entirely possible to enter the industry on a junior level and work towards qualifications on the side. Within Financial Services, it is possible to have on-the-job experience and qualify within two years – which is less time than a university degree.
Because this is an industry that is subject to heavy regulation, having practical experience and being able to implement procedures is absolutely crucial and incredibly desirable to potential employers.
If you were to enter a firm as a pensions admin, for example, it is highly likely that, should you demonstrate a keenness to learn and progress, the firm will pay for you to undertake qualifications. This gives you the best of both worlds: learning the theory as well as being able to put it in to practice. You would get to understand the fundamentals of a business, as well as the strict processes.
Companies are eager that things are done the correct way. What better way to learn how to do this by balancing education with time-served experience.
For those looking for a career in financial services In order to be qualified to give advice within the industry, you would have to achieve a Level 4 diploma in Financial Services. This consists of six exams; five of which are multiple choice and one is a written essay.
Assuming first time passes, the total cost would be around £1,500. Much cheaper than all of the travel and textbook expenses that a degree incurs (and the potential of having to pay back a student loan over your working life).
Firms are realising that there is more to being a success than having a degree. It is imperative that your people skills and communication skills are of a high standard. (Although, that’s not to say those with university experience don’t fit the bill.)
What is interesting is that some of the larger firms are now removing degree classification from certain graduate roles. My own particular pool of available candidates is a mixture of degree qualified and not. Of those that have a degree, very few are industry relevant.
Education isn’t the only route in to Financial Services. Schools often encourage the academic route but there are alternatives. Some firms even offer summer placements to fourth and fifth year high school students to give them a taste of working life: not only in terms of workload but of opportunities available and scope for career progression.
So, if you’re on the cusp of leaving school and don’t fancy another four years in full-time education, you can still get access to qualifications.
Again, it’s about demonstrating a willingness to work hard and learn through both theory and experience. It’s all very well being fluent in terminology, but the important aspect of Financial Services roles is being able to do things right first time and be able to interact at all levels. That can only come from practical, hands-on experience.
It's probably a lack of candidate awareness of alternative routes (or a fear of being rejected for not having a degree) that holds people back, because there are plenty of opportunities out there.
If you would like to speak to me about a career in Financial Services, I would be happy to give you advice. Click here to see my details and I will be able to discuss any career plans you might have.
Written By Matthew Ferguson