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Don’t have professional qualification for a finance job? School leavers and graduates can still break into the industry. Here’s how

Thursday 19 January 2017 by Ryan Tippett

Few places offer as many employment opportunities to school leavers and graduates as Channel Islands does. The lack of a professional qualification is never an obstacle for jobseekers here, as the island’s internationally renowned finance industry and forward-thinking commercial sector provide a range of career options and training programmes both in Jersey and Guernsey.

In fact, in recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on attitude and personality when assessing candidates. While this does not in any way undermine the value of a university degree or a professional qualification, the shift in focus is an indication of the importance of soft skills in job search. It also reflects a change in recruitment trend, which appears to be more welcoming towards school leavers and graduates with the right skills.

“The finance industry is very welcoming, and currently there is a great desire within the industry for school leavers and graduates,” says Anita Parkin, Manager of AP Personnel Jersey.

Victoria Peace, Manager of AP Personnel Guernsey, elaborates by saying, “the industry is very welcoming to students with an excellent academic background, particularly graduates.” 

“In fact, we do have a number of trainee positions available at the moment – fund administrators, actuarial trainee, insurance admin trainees.  We recently placed for the position of a trainee trust accountant and a trainee fund accountant,” she adds.

A career in finance requires strong numerical and IT skills as well as the ability to grasp complex matters. If you have excelled at A-Levels and can demonstrate these skills, your chances of getting a break are higher.  But if your A-Level score is poor, it is highly unlikely to fetch you the job you want. So you must focus on getting good academic grades, particulary in Maths and English.

“School leavers should prepare by making sure that they acheive good grades - this is a requirement of most firms but they are also willing to look at CVs that do not necessarily meet the required criteria. However, it will be an advantage if you have above average grades and can demonstrate a genuine interest in finance,” Anita advises.

“Most of the roles we have are for graduates and school leavers with excellent grades – candidates don’t have to have any relevant professional qualifications, but they must have a good academic background,” Victoria adds. “If they get a chance to do any work experience within a financial services  environment this also helps as it shows that they have a genuine interest in this area.” 

As a leading offshore finance centre, the Channel Islands boasts a highly dynamic and diversified finance industry. This means that school leavers and graduates get the flexibility to choose from a wide range of specialised areas, such as banking, accounting, audit and tax, insurance, corporate finance, financial advisory and consultancy and so on. That’s quite an overwhelming range of options to choose from - so how should an inexperienced school leaver or graduate go about this?

“As the industry is quite vast, school leavers must do some research and know the different areas of specialisation. This way you can narrow down your options and find out which sector appeals to you the most. Before attending an interview, you must also know about the company and their niche expertise,” Anita explains.

But finding a career that fits your skills and ambitions is easier said than done. This is where recruitment agencies can help. They can provide insightful industry information and help you decide a career that matches with your skills and future goals. As well as getting you infront of employers, some staffing agencies like AP Personnel can also offer expert advice on further professional training and qualifications, which is important in order to choose the right course/training for you.

Training courses equip you with the skills needed to thrive in your chosen field, as well as give you a taste of the industry you are about to enter.

“Training courses are always an advantage and I would suggest that anyone looking to start their career in finance should undertake any relevant courses. Although most companies provide support to pursue any professional qualification, undertaking a short course or training shows that you are willing to progress,” explains Anita.

Once you have decided what you want to do, you can choose one of the two possible routes to enter the industy. You can either join a school leaver/training programme or apply for a trainee position.

Training programmes are a great way for school leavers to get on the career ladder. They help you gain valuable hands on experience while working towards a professional qualification.

But if you want to get into work directly after A-levels then it’s best to go for the second option. Some employers accept school leavers on trainee roles and offer financial assistance for further qualification.

Even if you are not sure which area you want to specialise in, you can still apply for school leaver/training programmes or trainee jobs. Most employers will help you make the right decision during the interview process.

Whichever route you choose, you will have plenty of career development opportunities down the line.

How Can We Help…..

Job hunting can be a difficult and time-consuming exercise, especially when someone is not sure about the best career path for them and lacks experience and the knowledge about the market and the options available. We understand that school leavers and graduates usually face these problems while job hunting; therefore, we work closely with them throughout the entire process.

With our years of experience and industry-knowledge, we aim to not just find our candidates an ideal role but also maximise their career prospects. We provide career guidance and counselling, interview preparation and support, CV writing tips, as well as expert advice on further professional qualifications and training.

Our specialist consultants are able to assist school leavers and graduates with a wide range of roles across finance, banking and insurance sectors.

Some of the finance roles we cover are:

  • Trainee funds/trust administrators
  • Trainee accountants
  • Entry level finance administration roles/administration assistants
  • Trainee company secretarial roles
  • Trainee actuarial roles
  • Entry level banking opportunities
  • Trainee HR jobs
  • Office trainees

If you are looking for a trainee job in the finance sector or simply want to discuss your career options, our consultants will be able to help. Speak to us today!