The three (or four) years you spend at University are often heralded as the best years of life, and that is something that those of us who have experienced it find hard to disagree with. When graduation comes around (and it creeps up on you much faster than you would expect) it is often met with a mixed range of emotions: the celebration of completing your degree; the sadness of leaving behind the friends you’ve gained; the trepidation (and sometimes fear?) of moving away from the comforts of the education system and into the big wide world of work.
This will of course be different from person to person. There will be those of you who are raring to get started, and those of you who don’t want to leave behind the life of pot noodles, long weekday lie-ins and £1 Student Union drinks. I speak here from experience. I saw the mix of those who wanted to jump straight into work and those who even now, some two years later, still aren’t entirely sure what they want to do and where they want to do it – and still enjoy a diet of Pot Noodles for dinner. (London rents will do that to you!)
At Talentedge we see many a graduate pass through our doors – with particular spikes in activity during the summer months both pre- and post-graduation. With a team full of experience of placing graduates into their first finance jobs (many of whom are graduates themselves), we have a wealth of information and advice to give to University leavers.
So, let’s hear the answers we give out to some of our most frequently asked questions.
“I didn’t do a Finance/Accountancy/Maths degree topic…can I still work in Finance?”
In a word: yes. In more words: it all depends on your experience and the skills you bring to the table. The reason a numerate degree (Finance, Accountancy, Economics, Maths etc) tends to be beneficial is that the skills you learn on these courses can provide you with exemptions when it comes to studying for your professional accountancy qualification, and they also provide the fundamental skills used in graduate finance jobs.
If you haven’t done one of these degrees then there are still options available to you. What is particularly beneficial is experience, but you can still look at doing one of the ACA, CIMA, or ACCA qualifications – it will just be a very steep learning curve for you if you don’t have a numbers-based degree. If you are coming to accountancy from a degree that is completely left-of-field (such as something in the arts or a creative-type degree) then you might want to look at getting an AAT qualification to get your foot on the ladder. You can find out more about the AAT here.
See our current graduate roles | See our ACA career advice | Speak to a member of our graduate team
“ACA, CIMA, or ACCA…which one should I choose?”
This one is really up to you, but to help you are out here is an overview of the three qualifications:
“The ACA qualification is one of the most advanced learning and professional development programmes available. It has integrated components which give you in-depth understanding across accountancy, finance and business. Combined they help build the technical knowledge, professional skills and practical experience needed to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.” – “What is the ACA qualification?”
In short, the ACA Qualification tends to be more technical, and is almost always studied in practice. It is a particularly competitive qualification, especially for the places offered by the ‘Big 4’ practices.
Read our ACA Career Advice
“The CIMA syllabus is strong on the core accounting skill, but also includes ‘Big Data’, sustainability, integrated reporting and finance function transformation. We also study risk, as well as costing and cost management.” – Why choose CIMA?
The CIMA qualification is for Management Accountants, and provides training in Finance for Business. It has a focus on Management Functions and tends to be studied whilst in work and in industry, and very rarely studied in practice, if at all.
“There is a strong focus on professional values, ethics and governance. This is essential because the profession is moving towards strengthened codes of conduct, regulation and legislation, which is why our qualification has an increased focus on professionalism and ethics in accounting.
Professionalism and ethics is examined at the highest level in the ACCA Qualification. It is also a main part of the practical experience you must complete to qualify.” – The ACCA Qualification at a glance
The ACCA is usually studied in conjunction with an accountancy related role in either commerce or within accountancy practices.
“What do companies look for in recent graduates?”
The main thing that makes a good graduate stand out above the rest is experience, which can sometimes be hard to come by during your time at University. It is here that degrees with sandwich years prove useful, as they give you a great experience base to take with you into interviews and job applications. If you didn’t take a sandwich year, then any part-time work or internships you have undertaken could really help.
As ever, good academic results will help you stand out, especially if you can show that the skills you learned through your degree are going to be relevant to the role you are applying for.
Aside from past experience and academic record, how you present yourself at interview is also vital. You need to show that you have a real interest in the company you are interviewing at, which means good research beforehand that puts you in a position where you are able to ask company (and interviewer) specific questions.
Read Our Graduate Interview Advice
“What can I expect to earn as a recent graduate?”
Graduate entry salaries do vary depending on the industry and sector, location in the UK and the grades and experience you have attached at the point of application.
In the current market we are seeing salaries starting from about £18,000, going up to £25,000 for the very best candidates.
And if we haven’t answered your question…
…then please just give us a call! We have years and years worth of experience in placing graduates into their first roles into finance in the media, marketing services and tech sectors in London, and we would be happy to talk to you about your experience and any further questions you may have about graduate jobs and opportunities in finance in London.