Accountancy, Banking & Finance

Accountancy, Banking & Finance

Factors to consider when thinking about a career in Accountancy, Banking and Finance

  • many varied opportunities exist, including chartered accountancy, certified accountancy, management accountancy, investment banking, retail banking and financial advice.
  • open to graduates from all degree disciplines.
  • a large number will have accounting and business related degrees but other subjects are strongly represented including science, maths, languages, arts and social sciences.

Each section below gives you links to information on specific career areas – work activities, related professional bodies, employers/job search and other relevant information.

Accountancy & Tax

A career in accountancy involve roles such as financial reporting, taxation, auditing, forensic accounting, corporate finance, business recovery and insolvency, or accounting systems and processes. Accountants play a strategic role by providing professional advice, aiming to maximise profitability on behalf of their client or employer. Accountants work in many different settings including public practice firms, industry and commerce, as well as not-for-profit and public sectors.

Entry is open to graduates of all disciplines and, while a large number have accounting and business related degrees, other subjects are strongly represented including science, maths, languages, art and social sciences. Think about:

  • What area of accountancy or tax are you interested in and why?
  • Are you aware of all the career opportunities open to you?
  • What do you understand about the role you are interested in?
  • What skills and qualities are expected of you, and can you evidence them?

There are a number of training routes into accountancy you can enter depending on your chosen employment sector.

  • ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant), Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) - offered by companies such as PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY (the ‘Top 4’) as well as other large/medium sized accounting firms; requires a degree in any subject, preferably an upper second (2:1) or a 1st (many firms will also require specific UCAS points or equivalent ranging from 280-320, though do check individual company recruitment websites as entry requirements do change); covers topics such as: financial management, financial accounting, audit and assurance, taxation and business strategy to name a few
  • ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) – many accounting firms as well as business and commercial organisations offer this route in to accountancy
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) - another option within the accountancy profession, specialising in accounting for business
  • Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) - the only professional accountancy qualification for the public sector ie the NHS and central and local government
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland (ICAI) and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) - both offer a Chartered Accountant (CA) Training Programme requiring a degree in any subject, comprising three levels Professional Two, Professional Three and Final Admitting Exam (each level has four exams). The exams are Test of Competencies (5 modules); Test of Professional Skills (4 modules), Test of Professional Expertise (multi-discipline case study) and a Business Ethics course.

There are a two general options working in tax – Inspectors work on behalf of the Government to advise organisations on their tax liability while Tax Advisers explain how to minimise it.

Banking & Finance

The UK’s banking, investment and insurance industry covers a wide range of employers, including investment banks, commercial banks and building societies, broking firms, independent financial advisers, insurance and reinsurance companies. Although the industry was strongly hit by the recession it is optimistic that it is now slowly recovering (the long term effects of the BREXIT vote are currently unclear). There are still many opportunities for skilled graduates as it remains one of the UK’s largest sectors and important to the country’s economy.

Which role will suit me best?

As the world of banking and finance is vast, there are a number of important factors you will need to take in to consideration prior to making any applications.

  • What area of banking and finance are you interested in and why?
  • Are you aware of all the career opportunities open to you?
  • What do you understand about the role you are interested in?
  • What skills and qualities are expected of you, and can you evidence them?

Employers take very seriously your ability to demonstrate work-based skills and competencies, and this forms a major part of the recruitment process.  In addition to this, you will be expected to offer a good degree, the minimum of an upper second and excellent UCAS points or equivalent. Organisations seeking to recruit graduates will cast their recruiting net far and wide to encourage application regardless of degree discipline. Most banking and financial positions welcome applications from students with a non-numerate degree.

  • Accountancy – see above
  • Corporate Finance – also known as investment banking or merchant banking. Whatever you call it, this is the centre of investment banking world, accounting for about 60% of all graduate recruitment. In these roles you provide specialist advice to companies, institutions and governments. Graduates often train as analysts, working across departments such as debt, equity or mergers and acquisitions, or work with high-net-worth private clients. Roles you could consider include: Commodity Brokers, International Bankers, Traders, Investment-Analysis staff and Fund Managers. It is important to be aware that the general route of entry in to careers within investment banking is via a summer internship carried out for eight to ten weeks during the summer vacation of your penultimate year of study. This has become a more popular method of recruitment especially with the advent of the current economic climate. You are strongly advised to research, plan and prepare well in advance any applications for summer internships.
  • Retail Banking – here you will manage branches, meet sales targets and attract new business. There are numerous roles within retail banking to consider, and some of these include: Bank and Building Society Branch Manager, Credit Analyst, Customer Services Manager, and Company Secretary.
  • Financial Management - this involves running the financial aspects of an organisation, whether a commercial enterprise or in the Public sector. Public sector bodies include: Civil Service, Trading Standards and Customs and Excise.
  • Insurance and Pensions - see Career Areas A-Z – Actuarial, Pensions & Insurance
  • Taxation - see above
  • Management Consultancy - see Career Areas A-Z – Management Consultancy


Work experience

Work experience is increasingly important to employers. During the application process, in addition to the minimum academic requirements (which will differ from organisation to organisation), employers will ask about your work experience. Questions about your achievements and skills will require you to focus on your work-based competencies and transferable key skills.  All employers will want to see evidence of these. Any relevant work experience is an advantage as it will help you gain inside knowledge of careers and organisations, build contacts in industry, and also give you the opportunity to gain practical experience to enrich understanding of your studies.

Many organisations offer work experience opportunities – take advantage of these opportunities as many employers use placements as a means of pre-recruitment for their graduate schemes. Early application is necessary ie by November/December for placement the following spring/summer 2017 (see related links below).

Remember, employers are going to want to see evidence of business understanding and analytical, problem-solving, communication/interpersonal and organisational skills, self-reliance, motivation and more.

Sometimes even the most mundane sounding job titles belie the level of learning and the level of responsibility you have taken on. For example, if you have worked in a bar, a restaurant, call centre or supermarket, you will have the opportunity to evidence transferable work-based competencies.

Work-based competencies can also be developed whilst at university by taking on positions of responsibility, eg membership of clubs and societies, organising fundraising or other charitable events. This can be done either in a voluntary or paid capacity. Employers are going to want to see evidence of a high level of numeracy, analytical skills, communication and interpersonal skills, self-confidence and the ability to inspire clients’ trust.

Local links and events

Many varying organisations visit the University to make presentations and attend recruitment events throughout the year. Check the latest edition of the Careers & Employability Programme of Events and notice boards in your department to find out who has arranged forthcoming visits. Search Carees & Employability in the intranet for details of all events and recruitment fairs, particularly:

  • the Business, Finance & Banking Careers Fair in late October in the Post Graduate Teaching Centre
  • the Autumn Careers Information & Recruitment Event in early October at City Hall

Related links

Getting started

Professional bodies

Employers and vacancy sources