By combining on-the-job training with study towards a professional qualification, a banking apprenticeship with one of the UK's leading financial institutions will set you on your way to a successful banking career
In the world of banking, forging lasting relationships with both personal and business customers is just as important as being good with numbers. So if you've a genuine interest in people and the aptitude to learn about financial services and markets, the UK's major high street banks are always on the lookout for apprentices to work in their operational teams.
What banking apprenticeships are available?
The majority of banking apprenticeships are aimed at those who've completed their A-levels, with the higher apprenticeship (Levels 4 and 5) - equivalent to a foundation degree - the most common type. However, you'll also find degree apprenticeships (Level 6, equivalent to a Bachelors degree, and Level 7, equivalent to a Masters) are starting to emerge in this field.
You can read more about these qualification levels in our apprenticeships section.
How does a banking apprenticeship differ from an internship?
Banking apprenticeships are formal arrangements where you'll be paid a salary and achieve a recognised qualification, while internships are typically short-term - usually lasting between one week and a year - and are more about gaining vital work experience in the financial services sector.
Explore which one might be the best option for you at accounting apprenticeships.
Which companies offer banking apprenticeships?
These programmes are typically offered by the main retail banks, including the following five leading employers:
- Barclays apprenticeships - you can work towards your higher apprenticeship in either compliance, group finance, internal audit, leadership and management, risk or relationship management.
- HSBC apprenticeship - at present the bank offers one apprenticeship in UK global markets operations (Level 4 in financial services) to become an operations analyst.
- Lloyds Banking Group apprenticeships - these are available in three broad areas: financial services, digital and technology and professional services.
- Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) apprenticeships - broken down by business function, you can choose to work as an apprentice in customer service, business administration, relationship management or technology.
- Santander apprenticeships - these structured development programmes, which can last for up to four years, are available in a number of business areas, including corporate banking and finance (both at higher apprenticeship level).
If you're interested in more general finance apprenticeships, you'll find that these aren't just restricted to banks - for example, the apprenticeships offered by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and TJX Europe (both at Level 4).
As well as providing training, finance apprenticeships can also lead you down a clearly defined path, culminating in a renowned qualification with a professional body. For instance, you could undertake an accounting apprenticeship with a recruiter such as Sky or Nestlé and work towards completing your Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) professional qualification to become a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).
What do banking apprenticeships involve?
While the nature of each role will vary, you'll likely join a team within one of the bank's business functions, such as customer relations, specialist product sales, operations, risk or digital transformation. You could be handed your own personal or corporate banking product portfolio, and be involved with delivering solutions to clients. A high degree of flexibility is expected of apprentices and you'll need to be proactive in collaborating with colleagues.
Through the structured training you'll be supported, as you learn and look to successfully complete the qualification element of the programme (typically on study leave). As with other apprenticeships, they vary from 12 months all the way up to six years, depending on a number of factors.
For example, the HSBC UK global markets operations apprenticeship is a 13-month placement, whereas the group finance and internal audit higher apprenticeships at Barclays can take up to four years.
It's important to read through the specifics of the apprenticeship you're interested in to find out exactly how the programme is planned out, and what you can expect to have achieved at the end of it.
How much will I be paid?
All apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate of pay or the National Minimum Wage - see What is an apprenticeship?
However, you'll find that this is more of a guideline as some employers will offer a higher salary. For example, apprentices on Santander's corporate banking apprenticeship (Level 6) will benefit from a £20,000 starting salary with pay progression.
How do I become a banking apprentice?
While the employers themselves will set out their own application timeframes and procedures, to give you an idea, you can apply for entry onto one of Barclays programmes in either February or March, with this closing in May - for a September start date. Remember though, it's never too early to begin researching into which programme might be right for you.
In terms of entry requirements, Barclays ask for 80 UCAS points (achieved or predicted) at A-level or 200 UCAS points (pre-2017). Alternatively, you're still eligible if you've undertaken a year's work experience.
What banking careers can the apprenticeship lead to?
You could get a job as a:
- change manager
- cyber security analyst
- data analyst
- financial risk analyst
- operational manager
- operations analyst
- relationship manager
- project manager
- risk manager.
For other finance careers, see our accountancy, banking and finance job profiles.
What about investment banking apprenticeships?
There isn't currently as much choice when it comes to investment banking, but you do still have a few options.
Major investment bank J.P. Morgan runs a financial services apprenticeship based at its Bournemouth and London offices. You'll gain the CISI Investment Operations Certificate through this Level 4 investment operations specialist apprenticeship, but also have the chance to progress to a Level 6 financial services professional apprenticeship and study for the CISI Diploma in Investment Operations.
Alternatively, you could choose to work for the NatWest Markets division of RBS on a Level 6 financial services apprenticeship. For this investment banking apprenticeship in the company's Financing and Risk Solutions business, the current rewards package includes a £29,150 salary. To be eligible for this programme, you'll need to have acquired ABB grades at A-level, ideally including maths. Applicants who speak a European language are also encouraged to apply.
Explore whether this field is best-suited to your skillset and read advice on how to find work in the industry by visiting 5 tips on getting into investment banking.
Are insurance apprenticeships available?
Some of the banking apprenticeships already mentioned cover opportunities to work in insurance - however, there are plenty of dedicated programmes on offer, including:
- Aon - applications for 2019 open on 3 December 2018 (until 1 April 2019), with five streams to pick from (at Levels 3 and 4): actuarial, pensions consultant, insurance and reinsurance, employee benefits and investment consulting. The apprenticeship is a permanent position, comes with a salary of £18,000 to £20,000 and roles are available nationwide.
- Aviva - higher apprenticeships (at Levels 4 and 5) are often available with the company in trainee trading underwriter and actuarial roles.
- AXA - finance, underwriting and claims are just a few of the business areas taking on apprentices, and these can lead to qualifications up to Masters degree level (Levels 6 and 7).
- Lloyd's of London - these 15-month Level 3 insurance practitioner apprenticeship programmes involve rotations across the business, but you'll still focus on a key area, such as finance, marketing, insurance or HR. The salary is £18,650 and they're looking for those with three A-levels (or equivalent) and a grade C in English and maths. Applications for 2019 open in January 2019.
- Zurich - with apprenticeships available in actuarial, compliance, finance, insurance and IT infrastructure, there's plenty of choice with this insurer.