With an average of 119 applicants for every graduate job, the financial services sector is almost as competitive as the Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling competition.
Gaining relevant professional experience BEFORE you graduate will give you the best shot at standing out from the other 118 applicants.
Keep reading this guide to find out how.
Apply for Placements or Internships in Finance
How do I get work experience in finance?
Prepare for a stat attack as we give you not just one, but THREE reasons why work experience in the financial sector is a CV must...
SECURE A GRADUATE JOB: 46% of graduates hired by the Best Student Employers are recruited via work experience programmes.
DEVELOP THE SKILLS EMPLOYERS WANT: 78% of employers agree that graduates who have completed an internship or placement are more skilled than those who don't.
MAKE MONEY: Based on the reviews submitted to RateMyPlacement.co.uk, the average salary for an internship in finance is £22,291 (pro rata).
Tempted? Take a look at your options for getting finance work experience:
Internships in finance
For: All students
Duration: 1-4 months
When to apply: Sep-Mar
Finance internships are usually run in the Easter or summer holidays, meaning you won't have to take any time out from university and may even be able to squeeze a few in.
(You might also come across off-cycle internships in this sector. Employers like Morgan Stanley run these throughout the year to meet business needs.)
Why should I do a finance internship?
As well as showing future employers that you are committed and proactive, an internship is the only way of finding out what it's really like to work in finance.
That's because finance internships are specifically structured to give you a real insight into the sector, and help you make an informed decision on whether it's right for you.
And you don't even need to be doing a finance-related degree to apply! Most internships in the finance sector are open to ALL students, with skills such as analytical thinking, problem-solving and emotional intelligence considered as valuable as numerical ability.
The best place to start your quest for finance work experience is with the best student employers in the business. Here are three of them...
Duration: 4-6 weeks
For: Penultimate year students
A finance internship with PwC is an opportunity to learn about their business, build your networks and gain commercial awareness, skills and confidence.
PwC interns are treated as valued members of the team and trusted with graduate-level responsibility. Working both in the office and virtually, you'll be assigned real client projects and work alongside specialists in your chosen business area.
This student rated their PwC summer internship in finance a 4.5 / 5...
"As an intern you are treated as a normal member of the team with the responsibilities that that entails. It was really rewarding producing work that would be used directly on the project - and even given to the client!" PwC Intern, Management Consultancy
EY summer internship
Duration: 5 weeks
For: Penultimate year students
EY runs summer internships in six key areas of finance: Actuarial, Assurance, Consulting, Strategy and Transactions, Tax, and Technology. Each offers a sneaky shortcut to a career in professional services, with interns being fast-tracked for graduate interviews.
At EY, you'll work on meaningful projects that contribute to the success of the business, while developing essential technical, business and commercial skills.
"I was entrusted with technical tasks like investigating company financials, researching potential buyers and assessing industry data to establish trends, which contributed to the team's final deliverables for clients." EY Summer Intern, Corporate Finance
Duration: 10 weeks
For: Penultimate year students
Bloomberg is no. 1 for Accountancy & Finance in RateMyPlacement.co.uk's Best 100 Student Employers 2021-2022.
An internship with Bloomberg offers exposure to global financial markets and professional development training from the world's primary distributor of financial data.
Promising a 'hands-on experience', Bloomberg's internships are designed to introduce you to their culture and business through regular training sessions, activities and social events.
Most internships at Bloomberg take place in the summer holidays, in their London office. Scroll down for more on finance internships in London...
Finance internships in London
London is home to just over 9 million people, 3,500 pubs and 180 McDonald's restaurants. But it's also a hub for world-class finance internships.
Interns in London tend to be paid more than their counterparts in other regions, simply because the cost of living is higher there, i.e. rent and sandwiches are more expensive.
In fact, interns and placement students based in Central London and City earn an average salary of £23,146 a year, compared to the national average of £18,470.
If you aren't based in London, don't be alarmed - finance internships can be found all over the UK, and even virtually. There is simply a higher concentration of opportunities in the Big Smoke.
Read our guide to Internships in London to capitalise on the city's endless finance career opportunities.
DURATION: 5-13 months
FOR: 2nd and 3rd years
WHEN TO APPLY: Sep-Jan
Finance industrial placement students spend an entire semester or academic year working for an employer full-time, before returning to university to finish their degree.
Not all universities or courses offer industrial placements, but if yours does - it's a wonderful opportunity to apply what you've learned so far in lectures to real business situations.
Most employers in the financial sector look to fill their graduate roles with students who have already worked for them. These lengthy schemes give you time to make a lasting impression on future employers and build a lifelong network of industry contacts.
What do you do in a finance placement year?
Rather than sitting at their desk staring at never-ending spreadsheets, finance placement students have the opportunity to:
Gain a deep insight into how the business and industry works
Interact with employees across the business, from graduates to senior leaders
Attend skills workshops and training; e.g. presentations or interview practice
It doesn't matter what your degree or background is. Students who can show they have a genuine interest in the financial markets and the aspiration to work in financial services are all welcome to apply for finance placements.
In this video, University of Bristol student Hannah discusses her experience on a placement year with PwC:
Here are a couple of the finest employers offering industrial placements in finance...
IBM Finance Placement
Duration: 12 months
For: Penultimate year students
A finance placement with IBM will give you the experience, skills and contacts you need to help them take on their client's toughest challenges.
Offering first-rate support and training opportunities aplenty (as well as a competitive salary starting at £18,500 a year), this scheme will turn you from university student to financial professional in just one year.
"IBM invests a lot of money in personal training and development for their employees. There are lots of online tools and training days available, and all employees have to complete 40 hours of learning a year." Finance Analyst Intern
Deloitte Industrial Placement
Duration: 6-12 months
For: All students
Placement students are considered a key part of the team at Deloitte, receiving the exact same training and support as graduates.
Finance placements come in all shapes and sizes at Deloitte, so you could find yourself working in Cyber to keep clients safe and secure, or mitigating risks in Governance, Risk and Regulation.
You'll be paid a market-leading salary, allocated a champion and buddy, and work on live projects from day one. All in all, a Deloitte placement is a marvellous opportunity to give life in one of the Big Four a trial run, before committing to a graduate position.
Best student employers in finance
Every year, we release the Best 100 Student Employers table. This is based on the thousands of reviews submitted to RateMyPlacement.co.uk by students like you.
In other words, these employers made the table because they champion top-quality work experience for university students. (Three cheers for them!)
Here are this year's best employers for finance internships and placements:
Most students looking for work experience in finance are lured in by the Big Four (Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC), but they are crazy competitive and you do have other options.
SMEs and charities, as well as any company with a finance department, will all give you the experience you need and can be a bit easier to get into. Or you could try and score an internship with a media giant like the Financial Times.
The next section takes you through all sorts of exciting careers in finance. Just keep scrolling, just keep scrolling...
There are more career options in financial services than there are types of lemur in Madagascar. This diverse sector handles EVERYTHING to do with money, including:
Businesses of all shapes and sizes need accountants to manage their finances. Keeping the business ticking over, accountants are responsible for maintaining the financial accounts, from monitoring cash flow and profit to managing loss.
Find out how to start your career in this competitive field by reading our guide to Accounting Internships and Placements
Actuaries are actually much more than just number crunchers. Requiring next level problem solving skills and a deep understanding of how businesses operate, they help companies predict and manage risks.
Retail and Commercial Banks deal with everyday money management for individuals and businesses, whilst Investment Banks typically handle the more complex finance transactions, such as company mergers and acquisitions.
Read our guide to Banking Internships for advice on breaking into this lucrative career.
Reporting on everything from the AI revolution to Brexit and Covid-19, financial journalists cover all the latest news and trends in the financial market.
As a financial journalist, you might start working for a regional paper or radio station that covers financial news, before landing a gig with a big name like the Financial Times or the BBC.
Insurance companies protect individuals and companies against financial loss. And because the world is such an unpredictable place, there are millions of different types of insurance available.
Did you know, for example, that there's a company in America that provides alien abduction insurance? Or that heartbreak insurance is a thing, covering everything from cancelled Tinder dates to being jilted at the altar?
Investment management centres on the performance of funds and wealth that's been invested to gain a return, including financial analysis, risk assessment and stockbroking.
And with investors increasingly choosing to put their money into companies that have a positive impact on the world, a career in this field just got that little bit more exciting...
Tax advisers help companies and clients pay the right amount of tax, benefit from exemptions and also stay up-to-date with any tax legislation changes.
Tax is a part of everyday life, for individuals and institutions alike. Alongside police officers and ice cream van operators, those who work in tax play a crucial role in preventing society from falling into chaos.
To explore more career options in the world of finance, check out the National Careers Service.
How much will I be paid for a finance internship?
Starting with the obvious, the financial sector is known for rewarding its employees with handsome paychecks. According to High Fliers: The Graduate Market, the average graduate starting salaries are:
Accounting and professional services: £32,000
Banking and finance: £38,000
Investment banking: £50,000
However, a career in finance isn't ALL about the money (although that's a serious perk). Graduates in this sector can also look forward to...
Doing meaningful work in a fast-paced and dynamic environment
Endless opportunities for progression, training and development
Gaining industry-specific qualifications, e.g. accountancy chartership
Career stability; there is always a high demand for finance professionals
The ability to work anywhere in the world, from New York to Tokyo
Find out what students like and don't like about working in finance by browsing our 7,000+ reviews of finance internships and placements
Finance Graduate Jobs
If it’s a grad scheme you’re looking for, you’re in luck! Every major bank and financial business has a graduate scheme, these include:
However, graduate schemes aren’t for everyone. If you’d rather jump straight into a regular job - you absolutely can.
With an average starting salary of £40,000 per year, there are many fantastic reasons to get involved now.
Read on for more about engineering graduate jobs and where to find them.SEARCH FOR GRADUATE JOBS
What do you do on a finance graduate scheme?
The whole point of a graduate scheme is to prepare you for a full-time job. You’ll work full-time in the sector of finance you’ve chosen, or in several departments while receiving training, mentorship or similar.
You’ll get involved in everything from team projects to working alongside start-ups and big businesses to help get their finances in check.
Each scheme is different, so it’s always a great idea to consider what you’re looking for in a scheme and a company before applying. Let’s have a look at a couple of them now.
One aspect of Deloitte’s graduate schemes that sets it apart, is they’re permanent roles. Although you, sadly, can’t be a graduate forever, once you’ve finished your scheme, the job’s still yours.
Deloitte offers graduate schemes in several sectors. As a finance graduate, you could work across any of these areas but might specialise in anything from tax consultancy to risk advisory and auditing.
As a finance graduate, EY offers a ton of schemes for you to flex your monetary muscles. Depending on your goals, EY has graduate schemes that cover finance modelling to corporate finance.
During your scheme, you’ll receive top-notch structured training, a careers counsellor and access to innovative tech to help do your job.
Are finance graduates in demand?
200%. In fact, according to High Fliers, 1,693 graduates were offered grad roles in 2022. That’s a lot of people. And if that doesn’t convince you, 93% of Masters in Finance students from London Business School were offered a job within three months of graduating.
Without sounding like a very well-known Whitney Houston song, you truly are the future, and businesses aren’t ignorant of that.
Employers are looking for talented graduates with fresh ideas to shake up the financial sector for the better.
VIEW FINANCE WORK EXPERIENCE ROLES