Careers in Financial Services

 

In brief

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. TARGETjobs provides a useful overview of the financial services and insurance industry.

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.

Where can you 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. Discover Risk 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. A good website for finding out more is www.beanactuary.org
  • 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’s changing in the sector?

At the time of writing, there is still uncertainty surrounding the impact of Brexit on the UK economy. However, as a leading financial centre, the UK can plan for various eventualities from a position of strength.

The financial services industry has been facing concerns relating to increased automation and cybercrime and is now investing heavily to replace outdated banking systems with more sophisticated technological solutions.

A heavy merger and acquisition environment has affected job availability across the insurance sector. However, the surge in new, innovative insurance products means that actuaries are increasingly valued as they can identify, understand and manage new trends.

In this fast-paced environment, qualifications are subject to alteration, so always keep up to date with exam syllabus changes.

Useful websites

CareerHub – jobs board targeting LSE students, including events and networking opportunities.

UK Finance – the trade association for the UK finance and banking industry.

British Insurance Brokers Association – provides useful information about current issues and careers in insurance.

Lloyds Market Directory – useful directory of insurance firms.

eFinancial Careers – a key website for finding financial careers postings.

Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) – provides information about vacancies and the Trainee Actuary Programme.

Useful Information

Routes in

Introduction

There are several routes into the financial services industry. As well as applying to positions advertised on company websites and CareerHub, make sure you develop your networks and use personal contacts to gain access to non-advertised roles, work experience, and networking opportunities. During internships, interact with people working in a wide range of roles to get a clear idea of where you wish your career to develop.

If you’re looking to gain experience

Most financial services organisations run internship schemes, which can give you a useful insight into the work and can fast track you to interviews for graduate training schemes. It is possible to source work experience through effective networking and formal insight opportunities. Summer internships may be advertised from 1 year to a few months before they take place, so it is important to check regularly.

If you’re early on in your career

Entry level positions usually require a degree in Maths or a related subject, alongside team working and analytical skills. Professional qualifications play an important part in graduate schemes and for non-graduate employees.

Within insurance, most employers will require graduates to undertake relevant Chartered Insurance Institute qualifications. The Advanced Diploma in Insurance is the global standard for technical expertise and knowledge.  

Entry routes into retail banking are mostly found in branch management or relationship management. Other roles are available in areas such as marketing and product development and management, risk management and compliance.

If you have more experience

Develop your network and contacts as much as possible. Join a relevant professional body and make sure you benefit from any networking events and conferences, etc.

If you’re changing career

It’s definitely possible to move into a financial services career further down the road, but many roles will require you to undertake ongoing professional training and qualification exams.

Not sure what to do next?

We’re here to talk over your career plans with you. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at, so don’t feel you have to have it all worked out. You can book a one-to-one appointment with a careers consultant on CareerHub.

Job roles

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, e.g. 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, e.g. 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.

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