Top Tips For Beginning A Career In Finance

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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Have you ever thought about working in finance? The financial world is so diverse, so there should be the perfect role for you! From bookkeeping to advising, there are lots of ways you can utilise your skills. You don't always need the highest of grades to start a career in finance. It can be hard to know where to look for jobs and where to start building your career. Here's how to begin a career in finance and tips for those who don't want to take the University route! 

What Is A Finance Career?

There is a lot more to finance than many people think. A career in finance is where you work in the financial industry. Whether you're a new bookkeeper or a top financial advisor, a career in finance is where you work with money and numbers. Each job has different roles, but you follow similar rules and regulations. I love working as an accountant. I learn new things all the time, and there are lots of factors to consider. My role is versatile, and I can change into another financial career should I wish. Working in finance isn't for everyone, but there are so many different jobs that you may find that a career in finance is for you! 

Finance Qualifications You Can Gain

Whether you're looking to be an accountant or an analyst, you'll probably need a qualification. Qualifications can help you stand out from the competition, and they give you the vital knowledge you need to do the job. There are lots of different qualifications for a career in finance. I am currently doing AAT. You will need to go down different routes depending on what career path you're looking to follow. For example, accountants will have different courses and qualifications to a banker or someone in investment!

  • AAT - Good for bookkeeping and accounting
  • ACA/ACCA - If you'd like to be a chartered accountant
  • ATT or CTA - Good for those going into tax
  • CIMA - If you're looking to be a chartered management accountant
  • PMI - For those who'd like to work with pensions
  • CII - If you'd like to work as a financial planner or in insurance
  • CISI - Various qualifications such as compliance and wealth management

Find A Finance Internship

An internship is a longer period of work experience where you learn new skills and figure out which path is for you. It gives you a chance to experience office life in your chosen role without fully committing to a job. Most internships last up to a year, but it gives you a lot of experience. There are lots of finance internships in London. London is a great place to start your career in finance as there is a vast range of firms that offer a more diverse range of internships. It's worth looking at a website called Beyond Academy, as they have a wide range of internships all over the globe, so you can work in your dream city doing your dream job! You can choose the duration, and new internships start each month, so you can start when you're ready to progress. 

Build Your Work Experience

Qualifications are beneficial to have, but many firms look for experience in the field. In finance, it's easy to know the knowledge, but applying it to various software can be difficult. There are so many different routes to go down that it's worth spending some time to make sure you know which one you'd like to go down. To get some work experience, try emailing local businesses that offer the services you'd like to work. You'll usually spend a week or two shadowing managers and doing smaller jobs. Work experience looks good on a CV application.

If you're not sure whether you'd like to be in compliance, accounting or financial planning, try to get some experience in each of those fields. If your place of work is investing in you and your qualification, they don't want you to be leaving after a few exams. Make sure you know it's what you'd like to go into as qualifications are a big commitment! You'll also be spending a lot of time learning, so you don't want to waste your time either. 

Start A Finance Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is one of the easiest ways to get into a financial career. Both my partner and I are taking an accounting apprenticeship! I have a whole blog post on apprenticeships if you'd like to learn more about them and how to apply for one! You can get a qualification while making money and gaining experience. Most apprenticeships lead to a job afterwards, so you have your career set out for you. Many firms also give the option to study further qualifications with them once your apprenticeship is over. Remember, you'll need to complete 20% off the job training. 

I love my apprenticeship and would recommend it to anyone looking to go into finance without university. It's good to do an internship first to make sure you're going into the right job. Many firms will require you to stay with them for a year after your apprenticeship ends, so read your contracts! They do this to make sure you weren't just using them for a qualification, and they get their investment. You may be required to pay back some of the fees if you leave early, so make sure you're in the right career first!  

Use Your Contacts

The business world is a competitive place to be. If you know people in the field, why not use that to your advantage? I'm not saying you should ask them for a job. I prefer working for things and getting the job off of my own back. See if they're able to let you know about work experience or application openings. If you can get your application in early, it may boost your chances of getting the job before someone else. They may also offer you personal work experience or shadowing where you work with your contact. If anything, you'll have someone to ask if you need advice or exam help. I believe that it's not always about what you know but about who you know. 

Go To University 

I've put this as my last option, as I don't believe it's the best way to get into a financial career. University seems like a great place to make friends and get a qualification. It's beneficial for some careers such as medicine, science or law. But it is expensive, and you aren't always able to build your CV with things that will benefit your career. If you'd like to go to university and live the Uni experience, then go for it! There are graduate positions at finance firms, and you'd have a degree on top of whichever professional qualification you study. If you're taking accounting at uni, you'll be exempt from a few AAT exams as you'd have covered that in your degree.

Tips For Going Into A Finance Career

  • Do your research - There are lots of finance qualifications as listed above. Make sure you know which one you'd like to do and how long it's going to take. It's also worth looking into the company you'd like to work for before doing an interview. Knowledge is key and can help you stand out!
  • Keep up to date with knowledge - Rules and regulations change all the time, so make sure you keep up to date with changes in your profession. Whether there is a new law or tax codes are changing, it's down to you to keep up to date.
  • You may need to do CPD training - Once qualified, many professional bodies require you to do CPD training. Every year you need to do so many hours of training to keep your qualification title, and it helps you stay up to date on knowledge!  
  • Finance can be fun - Many people think accounting and finance is boring. However, money drives a lot of the world and business, so there will always be something to learn. Depending on your career, you'd be behind the scenes of some big businesses and their finances! 

I love my apprenticeship, but I would be willing to consider another part of finance if the right role came around. There is a lot more to financial careers than just accounting or payroll. Have a look around to see what matches your skills best, and choose something that interests you. Life is too short to choose a job you dislike. Take your time and get work experience where possible! Do you work in finance? I'd love to hear how you found your dream job and what qualifications you'd recommend taking! 

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  1. Loved reading this! Like always, a very informative post that I'm sure will help many looking to work in the finance sector. Work experience is so important xx

  2. This is a fantastic post Em with some really useful information. It's important for anyone going into any industry to understand what will help them move forward. A career in finance would NOT be for me because I am absolutely rubbish at maths and with numbers haha! x

  3. There are great practical tips :)
    A lot of these can apply for different sectors too, like building your experience. I've found that experience doesn't need to be direct either, there are a lot of things you'd never realise were experience.
    Cora |

  4. Great post. Apart from being an accountant, using these hints are important in other aspect of life. Thanks for sharing

  5. Great post with so many helpful tips. I've never thought about a career in finance but my previous job was very financial and analytical so it may suit me!

  6. Ruth| Ruthiee loves Glamour7 September 2021 at 12:43

    These are great tips for beginning a career in finance! I am not looking to have a career in finance lol but these are amazing tips. I love the tips about building your work experience and starting a finance apprenticeship. This post would be really useful to those looking to begin a career in finance. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Thanks for this info -- I'm going to pass it on to my friends who are looking into/just starting a career in finance. Are there any books you recommend on the subject?

  8. Well, it can be boring but you can enjoy it as well if you want to do it. Great to share these information and help people understand it.

    Fransic -

  9. Such an interesting post! I don't plan to go into finance, but I want to go into marketing/business so I gave this a read. It's great that you gave tips for internships and resume-building! Thanks for sharing Em