Careers in financial services

The financial services industry covers a wide range of companies and services that manage money and financial affairs for individuals, and for private or public sector organisations. Graduate roles can be found across the industry and, whilst many roles are open to graduates from a wide range of degree backgrounds, there will often be formal graduate entry processes and subsequent roles will involve training and a requirement for professional qualifications to be gained whilst working. In more boutique areas recruitment processes may differ with less formal graduate schemes available.

What is a career in financial services?

Financial services companies are usually found in clusters in local, regional, national or international financial centres such as London, New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Financial services careers suit graduates who have strong numerical and analytical skills, pay close attention to detail and, if in client facing roles, good relationship building and client liaison skills.

Where can I work, what can I do, and how can I get there?

Where can I work?

  • Insurance – works closely with other professionals, including doctors, lawyers and fire officers, to gather evidence, assess risk and resolve claims against insurance policies. With a range of careers available within the industry, insurance companies look for graduates from a variety of disciplines. London is the world's number one market for insurance and reinsurance. Step Forward provides useful information about careers in insurance. 
  • Brokerage – a brokerage firm facilitates the buying and selling of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, and money market securities. A broker may provide appropriate recommendations to investors who trade public stocks and other securities, or work as an insurance broker liaising between client and insurance firms to find the best insurance products for the best premiums. 
  • Actuarial – actuaries use their skills to help measure the probability and risk of future events. Actuarial roles can be found across a range of industries and organisations, e.g. at insurance/reinsurance firms, brokerage firms, consultancies, accountancy and professional services firms, pension funds, retail and investment banks and the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD). Many actuaries are now moving into areas including healthcare, banking, business management and enterprise risk assessment. Be An Actuary is a good website for finding out more.
  • Retail and commercial banking – the sector's biggest employers, banks and building societies enable individuals and businesses to manage their money and access products such as loans, mortgages and insurance. Retail banking roles are predominantly found in large banks, but increasingly within online banks and supermarkets offering financial services. targetjobs explains graduate work in retail banking in more detail. 

What can I do?

There are a huge number of different job roles in this sector. We've outlined roles that are often of interest to LSE students, with links to where you can find more information. If you can, try to talk to someone who's doing the jobs you're interested in, so you can get a real flavour of what it's like.

  • Insurance broker – speaks with the client to identify and understand their needs and requirements regarding their risk exposure. Seeks competitive terms and conditions from insurers to cover those requirements. Insurance brokers usually specialise in one area of risk. The Prospects Insurance broker job profile provides further details. 
  • Underwriter – assesses the risk and decides if they want to take it on and, if so, how much premium to charge. Clients are represented by insurance brokers who present the risk to the underwriter. Check out the Prospects Insurance underwriter job profile. 
  • Actuary – provides the mathematical and analytical foundations for financial decision-making. Evaluates, manages and advises on financial risks, using statistics and applying probability theory. Calculates premiums and advises on whether a company has sufficient assets to meet its liabilities. Strong communication skills are essential, along with the ability to simplify complex topics. The Prospects Actuary job profile is a useful resource. 
  • Business development – also known as an account or relationship manager. Brings the strategy and products to market. Works closely with marketing professionals and underwriters to develop new and innovative ways to maximise sales and achieve targets for their clients. Brings new products to the attention of their clients, eg, independent financial advisers (IFA’s) and brokers. The Prospects Insurance account manager job profile provides further information. 
  • Reinsurance – provides insurance/financial protection to other insurance companies to protect them from losses. Reinsurers come from a variety of academic backgrounds, although numerical and/or commercial skills are valued. Reinsurance work is highly international, so language skills may also be an advantage. 
  • Retail banker – acts in a customer service role, advising and assisting individuals with personal banking and financial services, eg, setting up bank and savings accounts. As a retail banker becomes more experienced, they may also become involved in the hiring, training, and managing of banking staff. Check out the Prospects Retail banker job profile. 
  • Commercial banker – manages checking and savings accounts for individuals and small businesses, providing the financial tools and advice that they need to function effectively. Relationship management is a key element of the role. 
  • Insurance claims handler – processes and investigates insurance claims relating to customers' policies. Ensures a claim is valid and that the customer receives payment. Liaises with the policy holder, colleagues and other professionals including claims investigators and underwriters. May also be called a loss adjuster, claims investigator or loss assessor. The Prospects Insurance claims handler job profile will tell you more. 
  • Insurance risk surveyor – determines the risks involved in providing insurance cover for personal items, properties, and industrial sites. Carries out commercial and personal surveys and presents their findings to underwriters. This allows the underwriter to determine whether to provide insurance cover. Also provides advice on adjustments that may be made to reduce the risk of future insurance claims. The Prospects Insurance risk surveyor profile provides further details. 

How can I get there?

It’s important to do your research and apply early. Applications are advertised through employer and industry-specific websites as well as CareerHub.

Large firms often hold insight events or offer work experience opportunities that will give introductions to the sector, the organisation and opportunities available alongside the chance to network with the organisation’s employees.

Where can I find out more about working in this sector?

Interested in finding out more about a career in financial services?

Here are some helpful links, including the ways LSE Careers can work with you on your journey.



LSE Careers resources:

External resources:

Jobs and opportunities


If you’d like to discuss your options in this sector, or chat through your current plans, please book an appointment with an LSE Careers Consultant.