Finance careers – a brief background
Finance is an incredibly large industry, with lots of varied jobs and career paths. From accountancy and investment banking to tax and wealth management, there is an abundance of opportunities.
Given this, there is something for everyone. If you are a people person and think you would enjoy working with clients and building relationships, accountancy, consulting, investment banking or wealth management could be for you.
If you are a more tech savvy individual, you might prefer to go into infrastructure and technology, making sure everything works correctly behind the scenes. This could range from making sure the banking apps people use in their everyday life are secure to making sure the systems built to handle large commercial transactions run smoothly at key times.
What do I need to study for a career in finance?
Finance is a very accessible industry. The major banks and other finance institutions usually have multiple apprenticeships that students at any level can apply to each year. There will be entry requirements, which vary by institution or programme, but will usually include a minimum of five GCSEs or National 5's passes, and a minimum of two A-levels or Scottish Higher's (or equivalent international qualification)
A finance apprenticeship will involve working four days a week and then studying for a related qualification one day a week. Alternatively, you might compress all of your studying into a two to three month block and work full-time for the rest of the year.
If an apprenticeship isn’t for you, there’s also plenty of graduate opportunities in the finance world. Some organisations will even offer placement years, which is an opportunity for you to work full-time, usually after your second year and before your third year of study, to get a flavour for what a career in finance will involve. A placement year is also a good opportunity to impress your employer and secure a graduate role, removing any stress from your critical final year of studies.
When you start your career in finance, you may have to study some professional qualifications before you are fully-qualified. For example, if you work in tax you will have to study for the ATT qualification. In accounting, it’s the AAT.
Working in finance
So how does all of this relate to physics? While there may not be much application of scientific knowledge, a career in finance is all about transferable skills. Numeracy and computing skills are a must for a successful physics student and are required in the finance world too, particularly when it comes to modelling and statistical analysis.
Likewise, working in teams of fellow physics students in a laboratory sets you up well for the teamwork and communication required across multi-disciplinary teams in the finance industry. Planning and executing experiments and working towards hypotheses draws on project management and problem solving skills.
Finance is also an industry where your career can develop in any direction it wants to. With the ability to progress and also specialise, the options for career progression are vast.