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Compared with other sectors, financial services has a much larger administrative and secretarial workforce. Despite a sharp fall between 2000 and 2004 more than 360,000 people, or 20% of the financial services workforce, are currently in administrative or secretarial roles. Counter clerks, pensions and insurance clerks, as well as account clerks are the most common administrative occupations.

Professionals and technical staff are the primary producers and caretakers of the sector’s knowledge, specialist know-how and expertise. The sector employs almost 400,000 people in these roles: about a third of the total workforce. Financial advisers, brokers and IT professionals are the most common technical and professional occupations.

Managerial roles, including proprietors in private companies and the self-employed, account for more than a quarter of the workforce, over 310,000 jobs. Branch managers, financial managers and marketing and sales managers are the most common managerial roles in financial services.

Sources: FSSC The Skills Bill: Analysis of skills needs in UK financial services 2007

New and emerging roles

The sector is undergoing constant change. The diversification of services and products in order to offer retail and corporate customers varied financial solutions means that job roles are also undergoing ongoing change. Currently, there is a trend for an increased need for:

  • compliance, risk management and corporate governance professionals, which is in response to an increased need for a review of regulation policies and practices
  • customer services and relationship management roles and skills as there is an increased focus on customer service, both to retail and corporate customers
  • people with knowledge and skills to work in the growing Islamic banking and finance area
  • people able to deal with financial crime as there is a higher demand placed upon strategies and mechanism to deal with fraud
  • people with higher level skills, which is the result of the increase in the use of technology

Source: FSSC LMI report 2009

Occupational skills gaps

Employers often report management skills gaps, especially around the areas of leadership and relationship management. This is because managers are often selected on the basis of technical expertise or sales ability, not the ability to manage staff.

In highly specialist sectors, for instance in the London Market for wholesale insurance, employers are also concerned about the effects of a silo mentality on skills. Specialists often become exclusively concerned with their particular area of expertise, to the exclusion of a generalist view of the business or a full understanding of customers’ needs.

Administrative and customer services staff, most of them new entrants to the industry, often appear to be ill prepared for the world of work. What is lacking is a combination of basic literacy and numeracy, communication and presentation skills, empathy, a positive attitude and a strong work ethic. Employers generally believe that this lack of work-readiness represents a failure of the educational system.

Junior staff often enter the industry with insufficient understanding of business and financial services in particular. Employers believe that financial capability, the ability to manage one’s financial means and engage the financial services industry, should be taught at home and at school. To that extent the industry contributes to financial capability initiatives in order to educate future consumers and employees.

Source: FSSC The Skills Bill: Analysis of skills needs in UK financial services 2007

Salary and working hours

Financial services workers generally earn more than their counterparts in other sectors. The average annual salary of a full-time employee in financial services is 87% higher than the average earnings across industries. Average salaries in high-value-added sectors such as investment and fund management are more than twice that.

With increased earnings come longer working hours. Financial services staff work longer than their counterparts in most industries and some City workers, in particular, are often on call 24 hours a day. Financial services jobs that must track global money and capital markets (e.g. trading) tend to have working hours adapted to those of the markets they deal in.

Sources: FSSC The Skills Bill: Analysis of Skills Needs in UK Financial Services 2007 and ONS ASHE 2007

Occupational roles and sources of information

The Financial Services Partnership Directions website provides employee profiles, testimonials and career advice from practitioners on the following common occupations include: Premium manager; Savings department manager; Compliance officer; Head Start trainee; Loan consultant; Administrative assistant; Underwriting manager; Claims handler; Medical underwriter; Account executive; and Financial planner.

The Gradaute Prospects website (a graduate careers website) includes information on: Banking, investment and insurance. This section includes information on: job roles entry and progression; typical employers; opportunities abroad; future trends; case studies; plus a list of contacts and resources.

The National Careers Service website also have detailed occupational profiles for some occupations in the financial services. These profiles include information on entry points, training, working environment, employment opportunities and expected annual salary.

Careersbox has films of those working in the finance sector, including:

  • Finance and investment banking graduates
  • Accounting technician trainee
  • Group financial accountant

Films are from those already working in the sector offering an insight into what it is like and what their role involves.