Professional Finance Qualifications Explained: All You Need To Know About Studying For A Career In The Industry
If you’re organised, logical and good with numbers, a career in the financial industry can be a great fit. The salary can be hugely rewarding too, with finance being one of the best paid career sectors as you progress through the ranks. For example, salaries for experienced financial managers start from around £65,000.
To get your foot in the door, you’ll need some finance qualifications under your belt. This can help you path out your career and build up your knowledge in a specialist area, making you more employable.
For those of you who might be interested in pursuing a financial career and want to know more about specific professional pathways, we’ve put together a useful summary of key qualifications needed for different roles.
If you’re interested in an accounting career, an undergraduate degree is usually required. To become a chartered accountant in the UK, you’ll study for further qualifications and need to secure a training contract authorised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
You can start your training by completing a Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (CFAB). This is a stand-alone qualification in its own right but is often used as a step between a university degree and securing a training contract. The qualification is comprised of the first six core modules of the ACA qualification.
ACA – The training contract stage involves 450 days of practical work experience and 15 exam modules. Successfully completing the ACA qualification enables you to use the title ‘ICAEW Chartered Accountant.’
If you plan to work internationally, a global route to becoming chartered could be more suitable for your career aspirations.
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) – The qualification is made up of two levels: fundamentals and professionals. The modules cover a variety of topics from corporate and business law to audit and assurance.
Chartered Insurance of Management Accountants (CIMA) – A globally recognised course structured in three levels – operational, management and strategic. This is the qualification required to achieve the esteemed Chartered Global Management Accountant designation.
It’s worth taking the time to decide which area of accounting is most interesting to you and tailoring your qualification pathway to suit.
Financial / Investment Analyst
For aspiring financial analysts, the Master’s in Finance (MiF) provides a solid route to achieving Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) status.
The MiF will equip candidates with the skills required for a career in the financial industry, from banking, corporate finance or broking in both the public and private sectors.
Institutions offering this degree through the CFA University Affiliation Programme include the University of Exeter, Imperial College London and The University of Warwick Business School
To study a postgraduate finance course, you’ll usually need an undergraduate degree in a maths-related course, while some universities require work experience to be accepted onto a course.
The Chartered Banker Institute offers a distinct route into banking for graduates and working professionals aspiring towards chartered bank status.
Associate Chartered Banker Diploma – Develops core technical knowledge and key practical skills that a professional banker requires.
Professional Banker Diploma – Supports the development of your technical knowledge and job-specific skills.
Professional Banker Certificate – A suitable pathway to the sector for professionals currently working in different specialisms such as marketing, human resources or IT.
Many finance graduate schemes combine on-the-job training with the opportunity to gain professional qualifications.
There are two main graduate entry routes into the profession.
Direct entry involves becoming a tax trainee with a firm of accountants or solicitors, or with the in-house tax department of an organisation.
You will then study for the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) qualification. This is a prerequisite to sitting the CIOT Chartered Tax Advisers (CTA) examination.
Indirect entry is possible for chartered accountants who are willing to study for the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification.
A joint programme is available that enables students to achieve the CTA and ACA qualifications, leading to ICAEW Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser Status within four years.
In order to become a qualified financial adviser, you must gain a Diploma in Financial Advice (DipFA). The DipFA is the minimum level qualification required to become a financial adviser, as laid down by the Financial Conduct Authority. The course is comprised of two units and typically takes nine months to complete.
The Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT) offers a progressive learning path for aspiring treasurers.
Their qualifications are mapped to four treasury job levels: tactical, operational, managerial and strategic. This means there’s a specific qualification to suit your career aspirations.
The key ACT professional qualifications are as follows: Certificate in Treasury Fundamentals (CertTf), Certificate in Treasury (CertT), Diploma in Treasury Management (DipTM) and Advanced Diploma in Treasury Management.
Entry tends to be competitive due to the lack of direct-entry graduate training roles, so working towards professional qualifications as soon as possible can aid career development.
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