Article: Finance


This article covers the following jobs:

  • Accountant - Industry and Commerce
  • Accountant - Public Practice
  • Accountant - Public Sector
  • Accounting Technician
  • Auditor
  • Bank Manager
  • Bank Officer
  • Building Society Manager
  • Building Society Officer
  • Commodity Broker
  • Compliance Officer
  • Credit Controller
  • Credit Manager
  • Debt Collector
  • Independent Financial Adviser
  • Investment Analyst
  • Investment Manager
  • Market Maker
  • Paraplanner
  • Pensions Professional
  • Stockbroker.
  • Tax Adviser.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.

Video: - Various: Finance

Banks and building societies

Banks and building societies provide financial services for businesses and members of the public. They offer facilities for savings, loans, mortgages and insurance, for example.

Many banking activities now take place by phone or online.

Bank Manager

Bank managers work in either branch and retail management or in specialist banking services.

Managers working in branch management must run their branch within targets set by head office. They build relationships with businesses, promote the services of the bank and assess customers' requests for loans, for example.

Managers are responsible for the overall running of the branch and deal with staff supervision, training and monitoring work practices.

Managers who work in specialist services might be concerned with information technology, credit card services, corporate or investment banking, or financial services. Alternatively, they might work in head offices dealing with, for example, risk management, global services or human resource management.

For direct entry to a management training scheme, you are likely to need a degree in any subject.

Bank Officer

Banks divide jobs into grades according to the skills needed to carry out duties and how much responsibility is involved.

Typical duties at various grades are: recording details of the bank's transactions, providing customer service, handling cash, opening and closing customer accounts, explaining and promoting financial services and dealing with the buying and selling of stocks and shares.

To enter this job, you need a good standard of literacy, numeracy and communication skills. Many entrants have at least some GCSEs at grade C and above, especially in English and Maths. Some people enter with at least A levels or equivalent.

Building Society Manager

Building society managers take overall responsibility for running their branch efficiently and profitably. They write reports and prepare statistical records, and they supervise, train and appraise staff.

Other duties could include interviewing prospective home owners to see if they are able to have a mortgage, and advising them on the effects of their decision. They also liaise with surveyors, solicitors and bankers when arranging property transactions.

To enter this job, you are likely to need a degree in any subject.

Building Society Officer

Building society customer advisers deal with customer transactions and record amendments to savings accounts. They also help customers to open new accounts.

They keep records and deal with routine administration relating to new accounts and mortgages.

Some customer advisers work in contact centres, where all the customer contact is by phone or online.

Qualified and experienced building society officers handle customers' queries about financial services or mortgages, and advise on different methods of saving.

To enter this job, you will need a good standard of literacy and numeracy. It will be an advantage to have some GCSEs at grade C or above, especially in English and Maths. Some people enter with at least A levels or equivalent.


Accountants help organisations and individuals deal with their finances. They could work for several clients or a single employer.

Accountants work in public practice (sometimes called private or general practice); industry and commerce; or the public sector (eg, local or national government, or the NHS).

Accountant - Public Sector

Public sector accountants manage the financial records of public bodies such as local authorities, government departments and the NHS.

Their primary concern is with balancing the cost of public services against income, rather than with increasing profits. Local government accountants also check and pay invoices, collect debts and charge customers for services.

Many entrants to this area of accountancy take courses leading to the Professional Qualification of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) while working.

To register as a student with CIPFA, you need three GCSEs and two A levels, all at grade C or above. You will need English Language and Maths at either level. Many applicants enter as graduates.

Accounting Technician

Accounting technicians help accountants by collecting, checking and analysing financial information on their behalf.

Technicians in public practice help to prepare and examine accounts by looking at clients' records, books and systems. In industry and commerce work, they compile accounts, and carry out credit control, costing and budgeting.

Accountancy technicians in public finance work for a local authority or other type of public organisation. They check public accounts, collect debts, work out salaries and collect financial information for management teams.

New entrants to this work train on-the-job and must also study part-time. You will need a reasonable standard of literacy and numeracy. Some entrants have A levels or a higher education (HE) qualification.

Accountant - Industry and Commerce

Accountants working in industry and commerce can work in financial or management accountancy, or a mix of both.

Financial accountants deal with internal audits, tax, wages and record keeping. They record all the costs of a company including staffing, transport and materials.

Management accountants advise on long-term plans. They analyse and interpret information needed for planning and controlling a company's income and spending. This branch of accountancy can lead towards management responsibilities in an organisation.

To register as a student with one of the relevant accountancy bodies, you must meet their minimum educational requirements. If you have more than the minimum requirements, you might be exempt from some written exams. Many entrants have a degree. It is also possible to start training with A levels or equivalent.

Accountant - Public Practice

Public practice accountants work for accountancy firms that provide independent accountancy services to individuals, companies and organisations. Accountants help to compile annual reports and accounts to make sure that these financial records are a true reflection of a company's activities and financial situation.

They might also offer advice to companies on tax and investments. Accountants in public practice sometimes execute wills and administer trusts.

The majority of qualified accountants working in public practice are graduates.


External auditors are professionally qualified specialist independent accountants. They examine an organisation's accounts to check that they have been accurately prepared in accordance with Company Law and to make sure that the accounts provide a true and fair view of the organisation's financial affairs.

Public sector bodies are also audited, to make sure that they are delivering good value for money and that public funds are being spent appropriately.

Auditors often do their work on the client's premises. They start by gaining a thorough knowledge of a client's business. They continue gathering evidence until they are sure that the accounts represent a true and fair picture of the financial situation of the organisation.

They complete their work by preparing a report for presentation to the company's shareholders and management.

Auditors working for the National Audit Office, the Audit Commission or Audit Scotland audit public sector bodies such as central government departments and local authorities.

Internal auditors work in one company or in a public sector organisation. They make sure that the organisation has effective systems and controls in place. They carry out reviews to make sure that the organisation is getting value for money and that risks are properly identified, analysed and managed.

Many applicants enter training posts as graduates.


It is very common for people (individuals or businesses) to buy goods on credit. This means that the buyer signs an agreement to say that they will pay for the goods over a period of time, rather than paying for them straight away.

In return for this service, the purchaser often pays back more than the actual cost of the goods. This extra money paid is known as interest.

Small companies that are owed a lot of money are sometimes in danger of going out of business. So it is vital to manage the credit process very carefully.

Credit Manager

Credit managers work in almost every type of business; they can work in either trade credit or consumer credit.

Trade credit operates when two companies do business together. The seller usually grants credit terms to the buyer. It is the credit manager's job to make sure that credit is only granted to those companies that can and will pay.

Consumer credit applies when a person wants to buy a large item such as a car but does not have enough money to pay for it all at once. Credit managers are responsible for the policies, staff and systems that check the customer's credit record and then decide if they can be granted credit.

Credit managers are responsible for any action needed if customers fail to make repayments.

The Institute of Credit Management has no minimum entry requirements for its level 2/3 professional qualifications, but entrants to this career often have A levels or a degree. Credit managers need relevant experience in finance or credit control.

Debt Collector

Debt collectors work for individuals or companies who are owed money. Some debt collectors get money back from members of the public who have not paid debts, such as mail order catalogue repayments or credit card bills. Others collect money that is owed by one business to another.

Debt collectors contact the customer or business to ask for the debt to be settled. They offer advice and suggest alternative methods of payment. Field debt collectors visit people at home. As a last resort, the debt collector starts legal proceedings.

Employers usually expect applicants to have a reasonable level of literacy and numeracy and to be able to deal confidently with the public.

Credit Controller

All organisations need to make sure that they have enough money coming in each month to cover their costs. Credit controllers help to make sure that customers pay their bills on time.

They check overdue accounts and contact customers to ask for payment. They might send a letter or email, or they might telephone or even visit the customer.

Credit controllers build up good relationships with customers in order to persuade them to pay. If a customer can't or won't pay, credit controllers might ask debt collection agencies or solicitors to recover the debt.

New entrants might have GCSEs, A levels or a degree/HND/foundation degree. Some people might have worked in accounts or customer service.

Other credit careers

There are several other types of career within the credit function, including:

  • Credit/Risk Analyst.
  • Credit Underwriter.
  • Export Credit Controller.

Contact the Institute of Credit Management for further details.


Companies and individuals often decide to invest some of their money. This sometimes involves buying shares in the capital (money and assets) of companies and organisations in order to make a profit.

There are some jobs that are concerned with advising people on how to do this, as well as in the actual buying and selling of stocks and shares.


Stockbroking is a collective term that covers several types of career including market makers, traders and analysts.

Private client stockbrokers buy and sell shares on behalf of clients, and give advice on financial matters. Computerised systems enable them to have access to the latest share prices and other essential financial information. They also base their advice on the financial press and the opinions of investment analysts.

In their advisory capacity, stockbrokers help clients ranging from individual investors to large institutions.

The majority of stockbrokers are graduates. You must pass an approved exam to be a registered broker.

Investment Analyst

Investment analysts study the performance of companies and industries so they can advise people where to make the best investments.

Some analysts examine information about companies and produce advice on their investment potential that different clients can refer to. Others work closely with investment fund managers in large institutions such as insurance companies.

Analysts take into account factors such as political and economic changes. They use financial modelling programs, write reports and compile forecasts.

To enter this job, you usually need a degree. Economics, accountancy, finance, maths or statistics degrees could be useful.

Commodity Broker

Commodity brokers buy and sell contracts for commodities such as petroleum, metals, financial products, coffee and wheat. They aim to make the most profit possible for their client.

Desk-based brokers act as a direct link between buyer and seller. Using telephone and computer links, the seller, broker and buyer agree a price.

Floor-based brokers work on the floor of a market acting on the instructions given to them by desk-based brokers, for example, at the London Metal Exchange. Almost all exchanges have replaced floor trading with electronic trading.

Some of the larger firms offer structured training programmes for graduate trainees. You must pass an approved exam to be a registered broker.

Investment Manager

Investment managers manage portfolios (collections) of cash funds, currency or property on behalf of clients who are looking for the best possible return on their investments.

Investment managers deal with the purchase and sale of investment packages and develop effective fund investment policies and strategies. They are also likely to have some staff management responsibilities.

Investment managers usually have financial management experience and a relevant degree.

Pensions Professional

Pensions professionals advise on, design, establish and/or manage pension plans for private and public sector employees, and individuals. These schemes provide payments for people when they retire.

Some pensions professionals monitor the performance and quality of the scheme and provide information about it.

They might advise the trustees and members of the scheme, after liaising with investment professionals. They must make sure that all legal and taxation requirements are met. Pensions managers are responsible for a department of administrative and clerical staff.

For student registration with the Pensions Management Institute, there are no formal minimum requirements, but it is recommended that you have a minimum of two A levels and GCSEs in English Language and Maths. Many entrants have a degree.

Independent Financial Adviser

Independent financial advisers (IFAs) provide financial advice for their clients. The products they are concerned with include mortgages, savings schemes, pensions and income protection policies.

New products are being designed all the time, so IFAs must keep up to date. They advise on products from any company, and it is this that gives them their independent status.

Many entrants have a degree. IFAs must be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and hold an approved level 4 qualification.

Market Maker

Market makers, sometimes called traders, create a daily marketplace for buying and selling stocks and shares on a range of electronic trading platforms including, primarily, the London Stock Exchange. It is their job to sell shares above the price at which they were bought.

They study demand and supply to determine the prices; they read financial newspapers and reports to obtain a picture of market trends. Market makers also use computerised information databases to obtain the latest financial news.

Buying and selling prices are set and securities traded with market makers, stockbrokers and other traders, using a computerised system, mainly the Stock Exchange Trading Service (SETS).

To enter this job, you usually need at least a 2:1 degree.


Paraplanners help financial advisers by researching and preparing investment, savings, pensions and other financial options for clients. They are not authorised to give investment advice directly to clients.

Paraplanners help to keep records in clients' files, checking that all the necessary paperwork is completed. They use the information that the financial advisers have obtained from clients about their requirements and how much risk they are prepared to take, and they prepare information and recommendations for the advisers to consider.

They might act as a point of contact for clients, organising meetings and sending regular review information to the clients.

Trainee paraplanners might enter with A levels. Some might have a higher education (HE) qualification such as a degree or foundation degree. They must then study part-time for an approved qualification.


Tax advisers provide advice to individuals and companies on taxation matters. They help clients to understand complicated tax law and tax systems. They also prepare tax returns and calculate correct sums to pay to HM Revenue and Customs after looking at a client's financial circumstances.

They advise on legal ways of reducing tax bills, and they liaise and negotiate with the tax authorities on a client's behalf. They analyse detailed financial accounts and examine the general financial dealings of clients.

They offer advice on the tax implications of financial planning and strategy, such as company reorganisations and mergers.

The majority of trainees have a degree.

Other career areas

Two growth areas for finance careers are in global custody operations and compliance.

Global custody operations

This involves looking after clients' assets. Clients are usually large institutional shareholders such as investment managers, pension funds, insurance companies and other banks. Assets might be in the form of paper share certificates, which are held physically in a vault. More commonly, they are held in electronic format, which makes transferring assets from one investor to another much easier.

When a client wishes to buy or sell assets of any type in any market around the world, he will rely on his custodian to make sure that the trade is settled in the market and that the stock and the payment for the stock end up in the right place at the right time. Custody operations also includes the administration involved in the ownership of shares.

Custodians might assist clients by collecting any profits due on their investments, making sure that the correct amount of tax is paid and reclaimed, or dealing with the complex administration involved in corporate actions, such as takeovers and mergers.

Many entrants have a degree.


Companies offering financial services such as mortgages, savings schemes, investments, insurance, financial planning advice and pensions are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

This is to make sure that the products and services they offer are fair, clear and not misleading. It also means that the people who work for these companies must be properly trained and authorised to give advice or to manage clients' money.

Compliance officers help to make sure that the activities of their organisation, and each person in it, meet all the required standards. Companies can be fined very heavily if they break the rules, and so compliance is an important activity.

The Financial Conduct Authority sets principles and a code of conduct. Some of these principles are worded very generally, and each company must decide what they mean for them. Compliance officers need to convince colleagues that compliance should be part of the culture of the entire company.

They monitor all the activities of their organisation, investigate any areas of concern and prepare and present reports for senior managers or directors. They take an active role in making sure that all sales, advertising and promotional strategy and materials comply with regulations.

Many entrants are graduates with relevant experience in financial services.

Further Information

Inside Careers

Specialists in graduate careers

Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU

Tel: 020 7565 7900


Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT)

Address: 1st Floor, Artillery House, 11-19 Artillery Row, London SW1P 1RT

Tel: 020 7340 0550



Institute of Credit Management (ICM)

Address: The Water Mill, Station Road, South Luffenham, Leics LE15 8NB

Tel: 01780 722900



Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)

Address: 13 Abbeville Mews, 88 Clapham Park Road, London SW4 7BX

Tel: 020 7498 0101


CFA Society of the UK

Tel: 020 7648 6200



Pensions Management Institute (PMI)

Address: PMI House, 4-10 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LS

Tel: 020 7247 1452


Publisher: Financial Skills Partnership (FSP)

Address: 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ

Tel: 0845 2573772



London Stock Exchange

Address: 10 Paternoster Square, London EC4M 7LS

Tel: 020 7797 1000


Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI)

Address: 8 Eastcheap, London EC3M 1AE

Tel: 020 7645 0600



Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment

Address: Whitefriars Centre, Lewins Mead, Bristol BS1 2NT

Tel: 0117 9452470



Career Guide 2011

Publisher: CFA Society of the UK


Jobs in Credit

Publisher: Incisive Media


Jobs in Risk

Publisher: Incisive Media



Financial Skills Partnership (FSP)

Skills for the financial, finance and accountancy sectors

Address: 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ

Tel: 0845 2573772



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