Your Ultimate Guide to a Career in Finance.

Do you have an eye for numbers? A feel for the fiscal? Maybe your future lies in the world of finance.

Accounting, auditing and the finance industry makes up some of the largest firms in the world, with a high demand for talented individuals. Required in all types of economies, finance is there to help when business is growing, but is also vital where cash is tight.

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Finance Apprenticeships: A young smiling man on a laptop and phone

The basics.

Finance apprenticeships are growing in popularity as an alternative to entering as a university graduate.

Well-paid apprenticeships do exist and the best way to find them is in the banking and finance industry. You don’t need to attend university to break into this industry; there are a wealth of apprenticeships out there that allow you to learn while you earn. 

Although financial apprenticeships are in-demand and competitive, they’re absolutely worth your time – once you qualify, roles in finance are highly-paid and you’ll never be out of work. 

If you’re ready to make your mark on the challenging and rewarding finance industry, an apprenticeship is absolutely the way to go.

So, what types of apprenticeships does the finance industry have to offer?

Types of finance apprenticeships

Actuarial Apprenticeships

Do you love using maths and data? Becoming an actuary could be right for you. Actuaries collect, interpret and ensure the accuracy of large amounts of data, using this data to evaluate and advise on financial risk. Many actuaries work in the insurance industry; their job is vital, completing tasks such as calculating how to cost an insurance premium. Who said insurance needs to be boring?

Actuaries require lots of training, and an apprenticeship will help get you into the mindset of continual professional development that the career thrives on. You can start an actuary apprenticeship at level 4 (Actuarial Technician apprenticeship). You can even gain a degree apprenticeship in this career path.

Accounting Apprenticeships

Accountants wear many hats – they’re responsible for keeping and interpreting financial records, managing payroll, reviewing budgets and spending, and working with auditors. Essentially, accountants paint a financial picture for their businesses. Accounting apprenticeships are among some of the highest paid in the UK – coming in at over £21,000 – and you can find a great choice in the civil service and the Big Four consultancies (Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC).

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Financial Advisor Apprenticeships

The role of a financial advisor is exactly what it says on the tin – they provide clients with specialist advice on how to manage their money. Financial advisors help their clients to meet their financial goals, such as saving, investing or reducing debt. Although many businesses and individuals use a financial advisor, the role can often be found in large companies within the finance sector, such as banks, and also in smaller specialist advice businesses.

Once qualified, you can even set yourself us as a sole trader and work for yourself.

Banking Apprenticeships

Banking is a rapidly changing industry – have you noticed the rise in digital banks such as Monzo and Starling? Jobs in banking are broad; you could be an investment manager, a bank teller, a credit analyst and more, but they all involve helping clients with financial transactions and advising them on financial products (e.g. savings accounts and loans). You could even find yourself guiding companies on their financial goals and helping make plans to achieve them. Pretty much all UK banks offer apprenticeships – Santander, Natwest and HSBC, to name a few – and it’s a great time to join this innovative industry.

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Stock Broker Apprenticeships

Also known as an investment advisor, a stock broker buys and sells stocks on behalf of their clients. Some stock brokers offer other services, such as advising on investment opportunities and managing their clients’ stock portfolios.

Zurich Insurance runs very popular financial apprenticeships, including in stockbroking; the process is longer and more difficult than some other schemes, so make sure you’re prepared!

Finance degree apprenticeships

Earning a full bachelor’s degree in finance without going to university is easy – you can take on a Level 6 or 7 apprenticeship that runs over 3-5 years. Morrisons run a popular scheme, and they were awarded Best School Leaver/Apprenticeship Strategy at this year’s LSE Awards.

You may have heard of CIMA (the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) too; this qualification is equivalent to a master’s degree and allows you to work as a management accountant. JP Morgan, British Airways, Pfizer and DHL will all fund your CIMA qualification – plus, they’re keen to offer jobs at the end. 

You could also check out the financial degree apprenticeships offered by XPS Pensions, who recently won actuarial and pensions consultancy of the year. 

Entry requirements?

Nearly all financial apprenticeships expect you to have achieved at least 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grade 4 or above, including Maths and English, and the banking industry expects to see A Levels/a minimum amount of UCAS points (or equivalent) on your CV.

Aside from academic expectations, you’ll need a key eye for detail so you can spot mistakes in spreadsheets and software. With that in mind, familiarity with spreadsheets is a bonus, as is having good analytical and problem-solving skills.

Apprentice Levels

Apprenticeships are split into levels depending on length and the qualification that you receive at the end. Possible qualifications that you’ll get could be:

Level 2 (intermediate) – equivalent to 5 GCSEs (at grades 9 to 4)

Lloyds currently employ over 1,000 apprentices, and their schemes run from Level 2 to Level 7. Pfizer’s apprenticeships are similarly structured, lasting between 12 months and 5 years.

Level 3 (advanced) – equivalent to 2 A-levels

The NHS provides financial apprenticeships at Levels 3, 4 and 7 nationwide.

Levels 4 and 5 (higher) – equivalent to a foundation degree 

Starling offers an 18-month programme which will help you achieve Level 4. Other Level 4 apprenticeships can be found at Nestle (focusing on accounting and tax) and smaller financial advice companies such as Ellis Bates, who have 5 offices across the UK. 

Levels 6 and 7 (degree) – you’ll get a full bachelor’s and/or master’s degree. Yep, that’s right: with some high-level apprenticeships you can achieve a full degree at the end, without going to university.

Santander’s Level 6 Corporate Banking Apprenticeship is the highest paid in the UK, at £23,000. If you’re more interested in actuarial work than banking, Aon (a large financial services company) is known for their Level 7 apprenticeships.

Sector Spotlight: In what industries can I become a finance apprentice?

Of course you can work in banking and finance (duh!) but another big employer for financial apprentices/jobs is the insurance industry, particularly for actuaries. The legal sector takes on a lot of financial advisors to assist with finance-related cases, and the Big Four consultancy firms are always hiring in their auditing, tax and financial services teams. Almost every business has a finance department, so qualified accountants are not short on choice!

Although financial apprenticeships are in-demand and competitive, they’re absolutely worth your time – once you qualify, roles in finance are highly-paid and you’ll never be out of work. 

If you’re ready to make your mark on the challenging and rewarding finance industry, an apprenticeship is absolutely the way to go.