By joining a finance graduate scheme in 2024, you'll receive training from a leading employer and gain hands-on experience at the forefront of the UK's financial industry

Here's an overview of what's available in 2024, 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.

Discover how graduate schemes usually work.

Which companies run finance graduate schemes?

All the major banks and financial institutions run general finance, accountancy, or banking graduate schemes:

It's the same with leading insurance companies, as they all run insurance graduate schemes:

Most of these organisations 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:

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 instance, Lloyds Banking Group offers a choice of 12 two or three-year graduate programmes in the following business areas:

  • actuarial
  • business and commercial banking
  • corporate banking and markets
  • data management and strategy
  • data science and analytics
  • finance
  • human resources
  • occupational psychology
  • risk
  • sustainable consumer banking
  • sustainable financial wellbeing
  • technology engineering.

The scheme involves rotating across several placements nationwide, with locations including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheadle, Chester, Edinburgh, Halifax, Leeds, London, and Manchester.

However, for most streams you'll be working in a hybrid way, meaning you'll split your time between working from home and going into the office.

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) chartered accountant qualification.

In addition to a dedicated finance programme where you can achieve a professional accountancy qualification, the NatWest Group also offers 13 other streams within its core functions remit. These include working in change and business solutions, data and analytics, financial crime, internal audit, NatWest markets, risk, and software engineering.

Leading employers including Network Rail, Sky and Virgin Media O2 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 September or October the year before the next year's intake, and they often close a month or two later.

While most programmes for 2024 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 2024:

  • Bank of England - £35,000.
  • EDF Energy - £31,000 with an annual bonus.
  • Lloyds Banking Group - £35,000-£45,000, depending on the scheme.
  • NatWest Group - £33,500 for most finance-related schemes.
  • Network Rail - £26,500 plus a £2,000 welcome bonus.
  • Santander - £35,000 for most programmes.
  • Tesco - £32,000 for its finance scheme.

Compare this with leading graduate banking and finance employers featuring in The Times Top 100, and 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

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