Finance and consultancy

Office workers pointing pens at a graph on a table

Discover other sectors

This sector not for you?  Don't worry, there are plenty of others to explore.

Accountancy and business services cover many areas, including auditing, insurance, taxation and financial management. Roles can be within the private, public or voluntary sectors.

Consultancy offers independent advice and expertise to clients on a variety of issues (like improving company performance and business planning).

Finance and consultancy make up one of the largest sectors to recruit graduates. Employers range from international companies to small businesses. Some firms have in-house finance departments, while others hire external consultants and accountancy providers.

Find out about finance and consulting

Key resources

Research the sector and keep up with current issues by reading:

What skills do I need?

Jobs in finance and consultancy are often high pressure and involve working long hours. Depending on the kind of role, you will need to demonstrate these skills:

  • business/commercial awareness
  • analytical skills
  • problem-solving
  • communication
  • accuracy
  • negotiation
  • initiative
  • time management
  • organisation
  • interpersonal/people skills
  • numeracy.

While graduates of any discipline can go into these careers, for a career in finance you may have to take on-the-job finance qualifications to progress. Some graduate schemes include further qualifications as part of their schemes. For more information, read about finance qualifications from Prospects.

Work experience

Work experience is essential for this competitive sector. You should think about:

  • Insight days and shadowing opportunities - many large graduate recruiters run insight days to give you a taste of the sector. You can also send speculative applications to smaller finance companies to try and arrange short work shadowing opportunities to help you decide if a certain job is suited to you.
  • Internships during your first year - some firms offer short internships open to first year undergraduates. These are typically shorter than the summer long internships offered to second year students. You can see a list of opportunities on Student Ladder.
  • Summer internships with finance and consulting firms are very competitive but give valuable experience. Some students are offered graduate jobs with the firm they intern with. Internships are advertised on Careers Gateway and on websites like Target Jobs and Prospects. Student Ladder also has a link of firms that usually offer summer internships.
  • You can gain experience in other ways. Look into opportunities available with York Community Consulting. or volunteer for a finance/treasurer role in any student society.

There are opportunities exclusively for students from black, asian or other ethnic minority backgrounds (BAME) to gain work experience in finance and consultancy. Some popular schemes include SEO London, Uncovering Prospects and the Windsor Fellowship. Visit the drop-in in Careers and Placements for help finding more schemes.

Finding jobs

Large graduate schemes are advertised through general graduate vacancy sites like TargetJobs  and Prospects. You will also find these on Careers Gateway.

Many consultancy firms are based in London; Grad Interview Prep have a comprehensive list of London-based firms with the industry each works in, Glassdoor ratings and starting salaries.

If you’re interested in a particular area of finance and consultancy, look on these specialist vacancy sites:

Accountancy

Banking (investment and retail)

  • City Jobs lists job opportunities across all specialisms.

Insurance, pensions and actuarial

Recruitment process

Most large employers in this sector have multi-stage recruitment processes, which may include any of the following:

  • online application form
  • online interview
  • psychometric test
  • assessment centre, including presentations
  • interview.

Applications close very early for some schemes - some in December - so give yourself enough time to apply.

Smaller companies may have simpler recruitment processes. This may include applying with your CV and an interview for shortlisted candidates.

What can I do at York?

There are lots of things you can do right now at university to help you get the skills and experience for a career in finance or consulting: