Good numeracy skills and the right qualifications are required to pursue a career in this sector, but relevant work experience is also vital to your progress

It’s not uncommon for companies to accept applications from graduates of a range of disciplines, but a degree demonstrating your numeracy and analytical skills is a real benefit - particularly for more specialist roles.

Most large employers, many of which run graduate and work placement schemes, ask for a minimum of a 2:1 and will sometimes specify a certain number of UCAS points. However, some organisations, such as EY, don’t even include academic qualifications among the minimum entry requirements for their graduate schemes.

Vocational finance qualifications in areas such as tax, accounting and investment management may be viewed by recruiters as more important than a degree. However, you can often gain these recognised awards while working in the industry, through part-time study or distance learning.

What skills do employers want?

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has reported skills shortages in accounting and finance, with a clear demand for suitably-qualified professionals.

Graduate recruiters typically require candidates with a logical mindset, a real interest in finance, attention to detail and accuracy, self-confidence, and the ability to work under pressure.

Gaining work experience prior to graduation can help to develop your skillset, plus demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to the sector. You should also keep up to date with industry news and join relevant university societies.

Where can I look for work experience?

Internships and vacation schemes can often lead to a permanent job or a place on a graduate scheme. This is because many vacancies are filled by those who’ve already worked for the company as an undergraduate, possibly through spending a year in industry.

To find work placements and internships, search for work experience. Alternatively, visit individual company websites or your university’s careers service.

How do I find a graduate job in finance?

Graduates schemes offer a pathway into various finance careers, with many placements resulting in permanent positions. However, their structure can vary according to the specialism and how graduates will fit into the particular organisation.

For example, Barclays provides intensive training for various analyst roles in areas such as business, consumer and corporate banking, as well as risk, trading and wealth management. Meanwhile, HSBC offers two-year, internationally focused programmes in commercial banking and global asset management.

Graduate jobs are also available at the local level.

Finance specialists are required across the different job sectors, with the likes of Boots, Centrica, Nestlé, Network Rail, Tesco and Virgin Media also having their own graduate schemes.

To find jobs and graduate schemes in the sector, search graduate jobs in accountancy, banking and finance.