So what exactly are financial services?

Financial services help with the making, investment and management of money for both people and organisations; for example, trading shares in the stock market, or helping people put money away for a rainy day.

Banks are places to keep your money but it doesn’t just sit there in a vault. Banks use that money and lend it to people who need it; for example, people who want to buy a house or a car. The borrower will then pay that money back to the bank, plus an additional cost in the form of interest.

Organisations other than banks also deal with money. Trust funds and stockbrokers may buy and sell commodities like coffee or oil. They aim to buy at a low price and sell at a higher one, much like a coffee shop, except they don’t keep the product in a warehouse.

The financial services sector also serves the public by giving out advice on how they might make the most of their savings.

It sounds easy, but it isn’t…

Financial services companies are competing against each other. When everybody wants to buy the same thing or the product is popular but in short supply, the price will rise. There may also be other factors that affect the price, such as production costs or events in the country where it is produced.

Let’s take the example of a country which is a large producer of coffee. It may have a bad harvest which will reduce the amount of coffee that is available. Because it is still in demand, but there is less of it, people will compete for it by offering more money to buy it.

But it’s not just about money…

Job roles within financial services are varied and not just about buying and selling. There are also roles to do with supporting the processes, such as analysts and economists.

The UK regulators are independent bodies which regulate the financial services sector in the UK. These regulators oversee the professional sector and make sure that customers are treated fairly.

Whether your ambition is to work in a highly charged and competitive environment of institutional dealing, or to build relationships with clients, or you want to support others… the finance sector has a place for your talents.

Are financial services for you?

A career in finance makes use of a variety of skills. You won’t need all of them but an interest or talent in one area may make you a valuable addition to a company or bank.

More than 2 million people in the UK work in financial and professional services

Computer Studies & IT

There is very little in the world that is not affected by computers and information technology. In a world that is changing all the time, it is important that people making decisions related to the buying and selling of products have all the up-to-date information at hand. Financial services is highly dependent on IT systems.


English is very suitable for many roles in the business sector. You will be required to think analytically and you will need to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with people. Presentation skills are essential – you may be required to present a project to three people or 300! Job roles in financial services could include public relations, financial journalism, research and sales and marketing.


History equips you with good analytical skills. Financial services professionals are required to gather research and analyse trends to determine and evaluate the most suitable products in which to invest to ensure their clients receive the best rewards.


Economics is the study of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. Knowledge of how the world of finance works is essential to being successful in the industry. Understanding connections between what’s going on in the world and how that affects the price of goods and services and the needs of people can make the difference between success and failure.


Geographers have lots of skills that can be applied to a career in financial services including research, data collection and analysis and evaluation. Understanding the economy and its changing influences, possessing knowledge of urban planning to explain why financial services hubs are built in cities and how transportation and infrastructure impact upon the success of a business, will all be beneficial. All of the world’s resources are enveloped in Geography and those who know and understand this can make good use of their knowledge in wealth creation.


Numeracy skills are used for a variety of roles within the industry. Being able to count obviously helps when dealing with money but it is also used in the analysis of data; such as profits, margins (how much profit you are making on a product) and even predictions about the future!


Finance is a global industry and being able to speak other languages can help make sure everything runs smoothly. A good level of English is also required when dealing with a range of people in order to make sense of the technical language used. Even though a large proportion of people in financial services speak English, better relationships can be built by understanding the language and culture of other nations.


The global nature of financial services means employees need to be adaptable to changing situations and understanding of different work practices, timezones and cultures. Citizenship teaches you to be active, informed and responsible and knowledgeable about the social and political world. Financial services professionals must act ethically and responsibly and be honest, fair, open and transparent in all business practices.


While not absolutely necessary for a successful career in finance, knowledge of specialist areas of investment, such as technology, and how they work, can often grant you an edge in what is a competitive area. For example, mobile phones use copper, silver, gold and palladium, all sold on the London Metal Exchange.

Introduction to Securities & Investment

This is a 10 part video series produced by the CISI to help you learn more about some of the key components of the financial services sector.

Financial Services

Introducing Derivatives

Forwards and Futures

Options explained

Bonds explained

Government Bonds

Corporate Bonds

Bond Equity

Money Markets

Risk & Rewards

The services of a bank are generally broken into three areas...

Front Office 👈

Middle Office 👈

Back Office 👈

Front Office

Teams in the front office generally deal with customers, provide services, and are responsible for the production of revenue for the company. So, in a high street bank, front office job roles are the tellers, loan officers/mortgage specialists and advisers. In the investment banking area, the front office are the investment managers, investment advisers, traders and relationship managers.

Activities include: mergers & acquisitions, corporate e and professional investment management for or high-net-worth individuals, professional analysis of companies and markets, wealth management, private equity and investment strategy formulation.

Example Job Role: Investment Analyst

Hours: 40-50 per week
Starting salary: £20,000 + per year

Investment analysts provide information and reports to help stock market traders, stockbrokers and fund managers make decisions about investments. Working in this role, your research would highlight new investment opportunities or show when an investment is starting to lose some of its value.

In this job you will need to understand economics and business. You will need communication, maths and IT skills. If you enjoy research and analysis, and you are interested in financial markets, this job could be perfect for you. Most investment analysts start out with a degree at class 2:1 or above, in a subject such as economics or business. You would usually start as a graduate trainee in an investment bank or a stockbroking firm.

Select an area below for more information:

Asset Management

Asset management is the professional management of assets or investments for a wide range of clients including government agencies, pension funds and companies and collective or pooled schemes such as investment trusts, ISAs and mutual funds.

Retail & Corporate Banking

Retail Banks: More commonly known as high street banks, retail banks provide banking services, loan facilities and financial advice to businesses and members of the public through large branch networks. Jobs in retail banks are predominantly customer-facing, such as working as a cashier, financial adviser, small business or branch manager.

Corporate banking: Corporate banking provides financial services tailored to meet the needs of larger companies. Commercial banking requirements can be quite different when compared with small businesses, as the volume, size and complexity of transactions are significant and therefore potentially riskier.

Wealth Management

Wealth management is all about managing money. Investment managers advise people on where they should invest and help them get the most from their money.

Sales & Trading

The functions of sales and trading within an investment bank is to help large organisations, governments, commercial and non-commercial organisations - raise money through selling securities such as bonds and equities on the capital markets. Practitioners in this area can deal with anything from stocks and bonds to foreign exchange, while researching the market for the best opportunities.

Financial Planning

Financial planning involves interviewing a customer to discover not only their financial goals but also whether these are achievable given the estimated level of income and other factors or constraints such as debts owing, dependents to provide for, health, age, and tolerance to investment risks.


Insurance brokers analyse clients’ needs and negotiate the best deal with insurance companies. This could be for individuals or for businesses. Within the insurance industry there are lots of opportunities. These range from highly specialised, analytical roles to general business management.