What will working life in finance be like?

What will working life be like?
Boost your confidence by finding out what to expect when you start a finance apprenticeship.

All apprenticeships and school leaver programmes in accountancy, investment management, banking, insurance and the actuarial profession include a structured training programme that runs throughout the scheme. Most employers offer networking events as well, where you get a chance to meet with colleagues at all levels of the organisation. Programmes kick off with a comprehensive induction designed to familiarise you with the company, products, services and culture, after which work and study will begin. Apprentices and graduates will usually spend quite a bit of time working and training alongside each other. The overview below is only a guide as there’ll be variations across organisations and programmes but it gives you an idea of what to expect.

Education and training on finance apprenticeships

In addition to working, you are likely to study for academic and/or professional qualifications for the duration of your finance school leaver programme or higher apprenticeship. In most cases, you’ll be allocated time during your working hours to study and prepare for exams. Teaching and learning methods will vary across companies and schemes, but common formats include:

  • attending a local college or university part-time for courses specifically chosen by your employer
  • training sessions in the office with teachers hired by your employer
  • online and virtual workshops combined with face-to-face sessions
  • home study with workbooks and e-learning materials

On-the-job training, which will take place while you’re working, will run parallel to your education. There are several methods that can be used, and your finance employer may use one or a mix of them. Examples include:

  • working alongside an experienced colleague and observing what they do
  • being taught processes, such as cashing up, by an experienced team member
  • having a buddy, mentor or coach who guides and helps you
  • rotating across different areas of the business (read more below)
  • soft skills training, such as leadership, with one-to-one guidance

Hands-on experience from the get-go

You’ll be expected to get stuck into real work soon after joining the business, as you’ll learn by doing and your employer will want you to contribute. Your day-to-day role will differ depending on the area of finance and the particular division within a business you join. Typical tasks you’ll do when you first start may include:

  • developing an understanding of clients or customers and their needs
  • assisting customers or clients with their queries in person, via email and over the phone
  • escalating issues and problems to your line manager
  • acting as a go-between for your employer and a client
  • supporting colleagues and department events
  • handling customer money and transactions

As you progress through the scheme, your responsibilities will become more challenging and technical. Typical tasks may include:

  • identifying products and services that will help customers/clients
  • building statistical reports and calculating performance measurements
  • developing software and hardware (for those in IT roles)
  • managing content and creating and maintaining web pages (for those in marketing roles)
  • drafting client reports
  • supporting large projects within different divisions of the company
  • processing pension transfers and helping people as they come to retire (if you're in investment management)
  • client ‘on-boarding’, which involves processing documentation and information when a firm acquires a new client

Rotations

Some finance school leaver programmes and higher apprenticeships are rotational, which will see you work in different divisions of the business for a period. Rotational schemes often include up to four rotations (depending on the length of the programme) and are designed to give you wide-ranging experience and knowledge of a company and different divisions and roles. For example, you could work for five months each in the audit, tax, corporate finance and consulting divisions of an accountancy firm. On each rotation, you’ll do a real job with responsibilities and will be expected to meet your deadlines.

Teamwork and collaboration

You will work and interact with colleagues at all levels of the business. For example, in some roles you’ll work with business partners across the organisation and, in some others, you’ll support larger teams, such as sales and investment teams. If you’re hired alongside other school leavers, you’ll also spend some time with other apprentices. Some training sessions will probably be held together. However, it’s likely this will only be temporary as you split up and join different departments.

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