You might work in a range of areas including accountancy, banking and insurance, but also business, management, finance, media and the public sector. Graduate level entry opportunities may be greater for qualified accountants. As a stockbroker, you would manage investments for your clients, getting the best return by buying and selling stocks and shares for individual people or companies and other large organisations.
To become a fully qualified accountant, you must qualify with one of a group of professional bodies. See ACCA, ICAEW, ICAS, ICAI or AIA for details. You will need a good degree in any subject, although some firms offer training contracts with good A level grades or Scottish Highers. Stockbrokers will usually have a degree in a relevant subject at class 2:1 and employers may ask for postgraduate qualifications such as an MSc or MBA.
If your degree is not in a business-related subject, you must be able to show employers that you understand how financial markets work. Find work experience in an investment bank or stockbroking firm.
Accountants typically work standard office hours, but you may work later at busy times. Stockbrokers work long hours, typically 7am until around 6pm, Monday to Friday, but can be more irregular if dealing with overseas markets where there are different time zones.
Trainee accountant salaries can be around £17,000 - £25,000 rising to £27,000 -£50,000 when qualified. Starting salaries for stockbrokers range from £24,000 to £35,000 a year rising to £45,000 - £80,000 with experience. Some stockbrokers earn over £150,000 a year and can earn bonuses based on personal or company performance.
You could work for local or central government, the NHS, colleges and universities, the voluntary sector, or private sector firms that deal with public services. Stockbrokers could work for stockbroking firms, investment banks or private banks. Most jobs are based in London but there are opportunities in other major UK cities and overseas. Jobs may be advertised in the local, national and financial press, employers’ websites, the CIPFA website, and financial recruitment agencies.
Graduate profile: Archi Shrimpton from Lloyds Banking Group
1. What subject(s) did you graduate in and from where?
LLB Law, The University of Sheffield
2. What is your current job role? Please provide a brief description of your duties
Business Technology Manager, Commercial IT. I manage Group IT’s relationship with key stakeholders in the Commercial business unit. I am responsible for a segment of the IT change portfolio, particularly Business Critical Change which focuses on legal or regulatory driven projects. This involves consulting on project initiation, assuring portfolio delivery and monitoring IT expenditure against sanctioned budgets.
3. What skills, knowledge and qualities does your job require?
Strong stakeholder management skills, financial awareness and an ability to manage ambiguity are important to my role. A degree of tenacity and the courage to act on your own initiative are essential when mobilising new projects.
4. What are the benefits of the degree/qualification(s) you studied for?
At work, the biggest benefit from my law degree is the ability to craft and communicate clear, rational and structured arguments to support the direction I want to take. This is a skill I use everyday. The risk management aspect of my role benefits from my enhanced understanding of the legal and regulatory pressures upon our operations.
Outside of work a law degree empowers you to know your right as a consumer, an employee and as a citizen.
5. Are there any additional activities or work experience that helped you?
My involvement with British Judo helped me demonstrate a lot of the competencies necessary to pass my assessment centre and secure my role. I was Captain/President of my university judo club, I have run large competitions and I referee judo at the highest national level. All of these activities have helped to develop valuable skills that I can transfer into to the working environment.
6. Is there any other advice you would give to someone interested in working in a similar field?
Everyone applying for a graduate position will have a degree, so a degree alone is not enough to get the job. Focus on what makes you different, what you have done in addition to your degree.
7. How did you find your current job and what was the application process like?
I found my job by looking at the various graduate recruitment websites such as ‘Prospects’ and also searching the job sites of UK banks. The application was similar to the other jobs I applied for – an online application form followed by verbal and numerical reasoning online tests, a telephone interview followed by a day long assessment centre. The telephone interview, like most graduate telephone interviews, was an uncomfortable, awkward experience.
8. What do you think are the main keys to success in your field?
A strong delivery and results orientated focus is valued in IT, as is an ability to develop innovative solutions to challenges, or negotiate acceptable outcomes between stakeholders.
9. What are your future career options?
In an organisation as expansive as Lloyds Banking Group there are a lot of options. I can continue on my current path to become a senior Business Technology Manager taking responsibility for a more significant IT portfolio, or take a change management role in another business unit, or try my hand at something completely different.
10. How has being lesbian, gay or bisexual impacted your career, if at all?
My involvement with the Lloyds’ LGBT network has given me exposure to senior colleagues across my organisation and externally which I wouldn’t have received otherwise. This has grown my network and understanding of the industry.
11. How important was it that your university provided specific services/advice for you as an LGB student?
I didn’t consider this when applying for university places and I don’t think it is easy to gauge the support and services available to LGB students from prospectuses. I was fortunate that The University of Sheffield had a very good provision for LGB students, but I feel that the general atmosphere towards gay people around the campus is the most important, and telling, consideration for me.