Finance and Accounting
Overview of the Sector
The financial sector is broad and covers many different types of organisations, each with a wide variety of roles. While the sector revolves around the management of money, many of the roles within it focus on working with people as much as with numbers.
The main sectors within it include:
Banking and investment – including a small number of large investment banks and a larger number of smaller investment companies. It is worth noting that insurance and pension companies have investment management roles within them.
Financial services – including insurance, reinsurance and pensions
Accountancy – which has different qualifications leading to different types of work including Management Accounting, Public Finance Accounting, Chartered Accounting and Tax. Chartered Accountancy is characterised by a small group of large companies who hire hundreds of students and graduates every year, balanced with a large number of smaller companies who may recruit just a few graduates in any year.
In recent years, the Finance sector in Northern Ireland has seen significant growth and there is currently a big demand for trainee Chartered Accountants. For Banking and Actuarial work, while there are some opportunities in Northern Ireland, there is a greater number of opportunities in Dublin and London. Other major cities for Finance include Edinburgh, Manchester and Bristol.
- Main areas of work are:
Accounting overivew Accounting Technician Chartered Accountant Chartered Certified Accountant Chartered Management Accountant Chartered Public Finance Accountant
Senior Tax Professional/Tax Inspector Tax Adviser
Acturial Work, Pensions and Insurance:
Actuarial overview Insurance overview Pensions overview Actuary Chartered Loss Adjuster Insurance Account Manager Insurance Broker Insurance Risk Surveyor Insurance Underwriter Pension Scheme Manager Pensions Consultant
Investment Banking and Corporate Financial Services:
Banking, Investment and Financial Management overview Financial Services overview Corporate Investment Banker Corporate Treasurer Financial Manager Operational Investment Banker
Financial Trader Investment Analyst
Retail Banking and Personal Finance:
Retail Banker Financial Adviser
- What do I need to gain graduate employment?
- Communication and interpersonal skills to work with clients
- Commercial awareness to understand business needs and processes
- Analytical skills to be able to critically assess and make sense of complex information
- Numeracy to be able to quickly and accurately make decisions
While a relevant degree can be of benefit, particularly in Accounting and Actuarial work where the degree can provide exemptions against professional qualifications, the big employers are keen to recruit from all disciplines and they provide a considerable amount of training on-the-job.
These big employers tend to specify that candidates meet high academic standards demonstrated through both UCAS points and degree classification. Some employers have relaxed these criteria recently e.g. PwC have dropped their UCAS points limit and EY have dropped their degree classification limit, but many of the other employers are still holding on to these entry requirements.
The big employers operate a graduate pipeline, engaging first year students with Insight programmes, penultimate year students with Placements and Internships and final year students with Graduate Schemes. These opportunities are well advertised through MyFuture and other student and graduate websites.
To make yourself a strong candidate:
- Participate in opportunities such as the Stock Market Challenge, QUTIC and the Student Managed Fund
- Apply for placements, jobs and internships as early in the academic year as possible – employers will sift applications as they get them
- Get involved in extra-curricular activities – the type of activity is often less important than the skills you are able to develop through it
- Practise psychometric Tests
- Build your commercial awareness – read relevant newspapers, books, magazines and websites. Attend as many employer events as possible
- Research each firm and make sure you match their culture, values, who they compete with and how they differentiate themselves.
- Some key employers:
Northern Ireland: (Plus key global employers e.g. Citi, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC)
Augentius BDO Northern Ireland Baker Tilly Mooney Moore Cavanagh Kelly Davy FinTrU First Derivatives FSCom Goldblatt McGuigan Grant Thornton Harbinson Mullholland RSM
UK and Global:
Deloitte AON Citi EY Allianz Goldman Sachs KPMG Liberty JP Morgan PwC Willis Towers Watson Morgan Stanley
- Local/ Northern Ireland opportunities
On Campus resources:
- Careers Fairs– many key employers in this sector attend on-campus fairs throughout the year including the Graduate and Placement Fair in October and the Work Experience and Placement Fair in January. Some also deliver presentations and workshops throughout the year.
- MyFuture– Internships, placements and graduate opportunities.
- Hard copy resources at the SGC Hub– A number of very useful magazines come into the Hub every autumn e.g. TargetJobs:Finance, INSIDECareers: AccountancyCareers. These are free to take away from the Hub and are also available online.
Advertised roles: Opportunities in this sector are well advertised on MyFuture.
Unadvertised roles & networking: While opportunities are advertised, competition is fierce. Networking with alumni and potential employers is highly recommended to build commercial awareness and stand out from the crowd.
Job search websites specific to Northern Ireland include:
UK and Global Opportunities
On Campus resources:
- ‘Going Global’– database of jobs and internships, key employers and country guides available through MyFuture -> Jobs -> Going Global
- Graduate Recruitment & Placement Fair– annual showcase of NI and international firms with vacancies
Useful sites for finding student and graduate jobs in this sector in UK, Ireland and further afield:
Professional qualifications in Accounting, Actuarial & Investment are recognised globally and many of the key employers are large international organisations with opportunities around the world. Home students who want to work overseas are advised to apply locally and then move once they are employed by the company.
International students may find it easier to apply for opportunities in their home countries and then move.
- Further Reading and Information
Prospects industry insights and Gradireland sector career guides will help you to search for employment in this employment sector.
Prospects: Accountancy, banking and finance
Further information resources are available at the Student Guidance Centre Hub (Opening hours: Mon- Fri 09:00- 17:00), including free copies of Gradireland, TargetJobs and Prospects guides plus self-help guides and employer brochures. The Student Guidance Centre Hub has free wifi, tea and coffee.
This information is obtained from a variety of sources, including the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), Association of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS), Prospects, Gradireland and relevant professional organisations and other appropriate resources, as available.
We endeavour to ensure that our online resources are current and contain relevant information. However, we cannot accept responsibility for the contents of external websites.