By joining a finance graduate scheme with a leading employer, you'll be trained as a future leader and get to plan financial strategies in this ever-changing industry
Here's an overview of what's available in 2022/23, although the exact nature of each graduate programme and salary information is subject to change.
What finance graduate schemes are available?
Most finance graduate schemes last between one and three years, with these programmes typically defined by their area of specialism. The structure is determined by the needs of the company and how graduate trainees fit into this.
For instance, you could be working in a dedicated finance team within a particular industry or get to spend time in various departments within a bank or financial institution.
The most common streams include:
- Accountancy - these schemes usually involve achieving professional qualifications.
- Banking - depending on the nature of the services provided, you could specialise in an area of banking, with investment banking, wealth management and global markets the most popular.
- Finance - as well as more general business finance, you could be focusing on banking technologies such as data science or analytics.
- Insurance - run by insurers and brokers, these programmes may allow you to specialise in underwriting, claims or risk management.
Research your options to find out what would be expected of you if you applied for a particular graduate scheme, noting its entry requirements, how and when to apply, and your career prospects.
Which companies run finance graduate schemes?
All the major banks and financial institutions run general finance, accountancy or banking graduate schemes:
- Bank of England
- Bank of Ireland
- Deutsche Bank
- Ernst & Young (EY)
- J.P. Morgan
- Lloyds Banking Group
- Nationwide Building Society
- NatWest Group
- Rothschild & Co
These organisations often attend graduate recruitment open day events and host videos on their websites to give students an insight into what a career there might be like.
You'll also find them active on social media, where you'll be able to ask questions to those who've already completed the graduate training programme.
Finance specialists are also required across different job sectors, with finance (or business-related with a finance component) graduate schemes run by many leading graduate employers including:
- EDF Energy
- Marks & Spencer
- Network Rail
- The Hut Group (THG)
- Virgin Media.
What will I do on a finance graduate scheme?
Many banks provide a rounded experience where their graduates get to rotate across different departments, so they can better understand the wide-ranging needs of the financial services industry.
For example, Lloyds Banking Group offers a choice of eight two or three-year graduate programmes, which involve rotating across several placements nationwide, with locations including Bristol, Cardiff, Cheadle, Chester, Edinburgh, Halifax, Leeds, London and Manchester.
You can apply to work in one of the following business areas:
- commercial banking
- data science
- retail customers and products
- retail customers and sustainable products
- risk management
- software engineering
- sustainable financial wellbeing.
Other finance-related schemes involve substantial time spent in other locations throughout Europe or further afield.
For example, Barclays provides intensive training for analyst positions in areas such as investment banking, finance markets, and corporate and consumer banking, with placements based either in the UK or abroad.
Those on the scheme may find themselves working across Europe in Amsterdam, Dubai, Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Stockholm or Tel Aviv. However, there are language requirements for these overseas roles.
Internationally focused banking graduate schemes are also available at HSBC. Specialisms include commercial banking, global banking and markets, digital business services, and wealth and personal banking.
Whatever the nature of the business, you'll find that study is often combined with working on the job, so you could gain a finance qualification from a professional body as you engage in work or training.
For instance, the three-year finance graduate programme at EDF Energy involves studying towards the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification.
In addition to a dedicated finance programme where you can achieve a professional accountancy qualification, the NatWest Group also offers 12 other streams within its core functions remit. These include working in data and analytics, internal audit, NatWest markets, risk and software engineering.
Leading employers including Network Rail, Centrica and Sky all allow their graduates to study for an accounting qualification from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) or CIMA.
For more details on the study routes available, see accounting courses and finance qualifications. You can also explore what it takes to become an accountant.
What are the entry requirements?
Most leading graduate employers ask for a minimum of a 2:1 - although Lloyds Banking Group and Network Rail expect a 2:2 or above. In most cases, the degree can be in any subject.
Recruiters will sometimes specify a certain number of UCAS points or grades at GCSE/A-level - for instance, 120 UCAS points (as well as a 2:1) are required for entry onto the Bank of England's graduate programme, Deloitte also asks for GCSEs in English language and maths at levels 4 and 5 respectively, while Network Rail states that an A-level in maths is desirable rather than essential.
While these schemes are typically training programmes designed for recent students to bridge the gap between study and the world of work, there's no upper age limit on applications.
How and when should I apply?
You'll usually be expected to apply online, with some places filled well before the end of term. Applications are typically accepted from the September or October of the year before the next year's intake, and they often close a month or two later.
While most programmes for 2023 will start in the September, this isn't always the case. For instance, Sky's finance graduate scheme based in Osterley or Livingston has a February start date. It's therefore important to check the individual programme you're interested in for precise application and starting dates.
To give you an idea of the application process, the Santander graduate programme involves the following stages:
- Online application - you'll need to spend around 10-15 minutes completing a simple form. You can use the information on your CV for reference.
- Online test - you'll then face a series of tests to determine the skills you'll bring to the team. These include a video-based situational judgement test, a personality test and a gamified numerical challenge.
- Video interview (pre-recorded) - once you've successfully navigated the tests, you'll get the opportunity to record a video explaining why you've selected this scheme and the skills you'd bring to the role.
- Virtual assessment centre - finally, you'll be invited to a half-day session where you'll undertake three exercises. One of these is a group exercise to get to know the other attendees, as well as a presentation, followed by a one-to-one interview.
For tips on showing yourself in the best possible light and writing a successful application, see applying for jobs. You can also read our interview tips.
What skills will I need?
Here are a few examples of what employers are looking for:
- At EY you'll need to be an adaptable and analytical team player with strong communications skills to succeed on one of its actuarial pensions or insurance graduate schemes. In addition to being 'numbers savvy', the company also expects you to be 'in the know', keeping up to date with technical innovations, current affairs, global trends and market activity.
- Sky is searching for confident communicators, commercially minded individuals and team players with analytical skills to work in their exciting and dynamic working environment.
- Tesco is also looking for team players, and those interested in a finance career who can apply their skills to specific work problems in a fast-paced environment.
Discover the attributes required for specific roles at graduate finance jobs.
How much will I be paid?
Here's what a selection of recruiters are offering to finance graduates in 2023:
- EDF Energy - £31,000.
- Lloyds Banking Group - £31,000-£45,000, depending on the scheme.
- NatWest Group - £31,850 for most finance-related schemes.
- Santander - £30,000 for most programmes.
- Tesco - £32,000.
- Virgin Media - £30,000 plus £2,000 welcome bonus.
See how this compares with leading graduate banking and finance employers featuring in The Times Top 100, as well as with other professions, by viewing High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2023 report.
Will I be offered a job afterwards?
Many employers offer permanent positions with the firm after completion of the programme, but you'll need to check the finer details of the scheme.
For example, at Deloitte, graduate training results in a permanent job - whether this is in the same team you've been working in or a different part of the business.
As long as you pass all your exams and achieve a successful performance rating while working for Santander over the two years, you'll be offered a permanent role afterwards.
Find out more
- Learn about how graduate schemes work.
- Discover the top UK banking apprenticeships.
- Read our 5 tips on getting into investment banking.