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According to the Financial Services Sector’s Contribution to the UK Economy report released by parliament in 2018, the UK financial sector contributed 6.5% of the total economic output of the country. The total contribution was in excess of £110 billion. As such, it is safe to say that the sector is a highly lucrative one that is worth getting into.
If you want to get a graduate job in financial services, but you do not have a relevant finance degree, does that mean that you are out of luck? The good news for you, a non-financial graduate, is that you do not strictly need a financial services degree to get a job in the industry. With a bit of strategic planning, you can break into a career in the financial sector without a relevant finance degree.
In any industry, both hard and soft skills are required. A finance degree might provide you with the hard skills (know-how) to carry out financial modelling and analysis functions involved in a finance role, but it will not be able to provide you with the much-needed soft skills required in the industry. Alongside a finance degree or a non-finance degree, soft skills needed in finance graduate jobs include:
Below are 8 ways in which you can prove that you are a worthy graduate, well-equipped to work in the financial services sector, whether or not you have a finance degree.
The only way a non-finance graduate is going to get through a financial services interview is if they can talk the talk. Unfortunately, financial jargon can be tough to decipher, so it is best to get reading and prepare your answers to common finance interview questions. You need to know what words and terms like “dividend”, “EBITDA”, “GAAP”, and “Earnings per Share” mean. If you do not know what these mean, it is time to do a bit of research. If it sounds like you know what you are talking about and you have a good grasp of financial concepts and terms, you are going to appear to be a candidate worthy of training up regardless of whether you have a finance degree under your belt.
While you might not be a finance graduate, you can still get some industry knowledge without even having to pay for it on a finance degree course. If you do a quick Google search for “free finance courses UK”, you will see just how many industry courses will just take a few hours of your time and will provide you with valuable education in the field. What is more is that these course completions (and the effort) will look great on your graduate CV. No one will even notice you don't have a finance degree!
To help your chances of getting a job in financial services without a finance degree, take the time to clean up your social media profiles and then network with financial sector influencers. Many will have blogs or post interesting content online; so make yourself a great LinkedIn profile, start to ask questions, make comments, and share posts. Everything you do on your social media profiles will act as an advertisement to your prospective employers, and show that you're interested in financial services jobs. Most recruiters and employers use social media to look up their candidates before interviewing them for graduate jobs. Position yourself as someone who is gaining momentum in the industry by having an active presence on relevant social media platform pages.
Regardless of whether you have a financial services degree, there are plenty of financial companies that would like a free helping hand for a few days here and there. Offer your services (assistance) to financial companies in your area in exchange for experience and a letter of recommendation. Many companies will be only happy to help you, especially if you are showing such initiative and a passion for the industry - and this is often a great segway into graduate jobs in the finance industry if you don't have a finance degree.
If you have a specific interest in trading but you don't have a degree in finance, you need to get yourself a bit of experience before you apply for financial services jobs. There are a variety of trading simulators available online. Register for an account and get studying and trading. The simulators often enable you to generate reports, which you can use as evidence of your experienced gained and what you have learned, if you do not wish to trade with any real money just yet. This will help to bolster your professional profile, especially important when you don't have a relevant finance degree.
While you are without a graduate job, chances are that you can spare a few hours here and there for some hands-on mentorship. Approaching a financial advisor is your best bet. If the financial advisor agrees, you could attend meetings with clients, as an “observer”, to provide financial advice and handle investments. You can even try to come up with your own personal solutions to the client financial problems for the financial advisor to look over. This too will look great on your graduate finance CV and you will be able to get a good recommendation for your efforts.
Many graduates, both those with finance degrees and those without, make the mistake of thinking that their graduate CV should simply list their qualifications and experience, and therefore speak for itself. The trick to getting the right type of attention in the financial services field is to compose a high impact covering/introductory letter. Make sure that your letter addresses the type of finance graduate jobs you are interested in, explains the skills you have that make you a good candidate, and make it very clear that you are passionate about the field and wish to learn and grow as much as you can.
Working at SME Loans, as a non-finance graduate, I have learned that there are various roles within the sector that can be taught (and learned) – no degree necessary. Some financial services roles are more involved and complex than others. While you may not be able to step into a role as a chartered accountant without any prior training and qualifications, you can get a job in various financial sector supporting roles such as alternative financing. Be strategic with your applications by applying for roles that you can realistically learn and carry out without needing years of formal education.
The financial services sector consists of many sub-sectors, which means that there is a broad scope of opportunity, and a wide range of finance graduate jobs for you in the industry. You can apply for a graduate financial services job in banking, financial planning, investments, stock trading, small business loans, and various others. If you have your heart set on a career in the financial services sector, put in the effort and take the steps suggested above to land the perfect fianance graduate jobs – finance degree or not.
Jayme Wium is a digital marketer for SME Loans, specialising in the areas of technology and finances, among others.