What qualifications are important in Finance?
Regardless of whether you have a degree or not, your studying days are not over when you start your career in the finance sector. There are several professional qualifications that you will be expected to undertake if you have ambitions to progress your career further than the level you started at.
If you take the non-graduate route into banking, the lowest pointy of entry as a Cashier or Adviser will require a minimum of four or five GCSEs grades A-C, including Maths and English.
Once in the role there are a number of qualifications that you can study around your existing work commitments that will prove highly advantageous for those interested in management, including NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Retail Financial Services or Customer Service, and NVQ Levels 1 and 2 in Contact Centre Operations.
Similarly, Financial Advisers and Underwriters may not need a degree to launch their career but, they will also be expected to complete parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Financial Planning Certificate.
With increased competition for places, more and more employers prefer to recruit graduates. Some investment roles, such as Fund Manager and Investment Analyst, look for accountancy, maths or economics graduates and encourage trainees to study for one of two main professional qualifications – Investment Management Certificate (IMC) and Certificate in Securities & Financial Derivatives.
Similarly, accountancy, which has traditionally been a non-graduate profession yet is now overwhelmingly (80%) made up of graduates who hold degrees in a mathematical or business discipline, although a HND is sometimes sufficient.
But unlike banking, postgraduate study is not necessary to progress your career in accountancy, with the exception of Management Accountants who are expected to complete the Certificate in Business Accounting followed by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Professional Qualification.
Holding a professional qualification demonstrates a keen interest in your field and can strengthen your application for your next position.
Given the high number of applicants in relation to the number of jobs available, any work experience that you have gained within your chosen sector will boost your application. Some of the so-called ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms, for instance, offer internships for penultimate-year graduates.
For everyone else, any work experience – either paid or voluntary - within an environment that teaches you the skills needed to work in the finance sector – such as analytical, numerical and communication skills - will be beneficial.