Banking and financial services industry overview

Australia is a sophisticated economy that’s part of the fastest-growing region in the world, which means the industry holds enormous opportunity for graduates.
Erin Delaney
Team GradAustralia
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A role in the banking and financial services industry could see you working anywhere from a giant blue chip to a government-backed regulatory body, working across money-related functions. You might be involved in investing, borrowing, raising, insuring or managing it.

If you’ve got a head for numbers and are good with people, retail banking, investment banking and insurance are intuitive choices. If you enjoy solving complex problems, actuarial or regulatory work may be more for you. If you’ve got an interest or qualifications in technology, fintech is where the cutting-edge fun is.

Working in the banking and financial sector is exciting, fast-paced and can come with a lot of perks for the pressure of making decisions about money — especially when you start dealing with larger amounts.

The average package is $73,000 and the average hours worked per week is 44, making this a slightly above average value profession for grads on a dollar-per-hour basis.

Banking sector overview for graduates

Job market outlook

Retail banks offer structured graduate programs each year and there are always plenty of opportunities for talented grads — though, while graduate positions are in no short supply, the competition is still tough because of the sheer volume of applicants.

Investment banking is growing in opportunity as the sharemarket strengthens post-global financial crisis, though brokerage specifically is still soft. This sector is extremely popular with grads, so competition is fierce.

Insurers are in the midst of an identity crisis, with some slow to respond to technology’s challenges to their traditional model of business. With more and more challenger brands springing to life, the older model of aggregate insuring is moving towards direct sales and artificial intelligence is driving down underwriter headcount across the industry. There will be more and more opportunity in customer-tailored, peer-to-peer insuring as the population becomes more savvy, demanding and connected. Grads will need to be adaptable to a changing market and able to learn new business models to thrive.

Fintech is where you’ll find entrepreneurs making waves post-crisis, and Australia is an emerging player on the global market. Incubator programs are popping up everywhere, and there are opportunities as endless as the number of ideas people have — everything from new platforms for foreign exchange and investing, to concepts like peer-to-peer lending and robo-advice.

How to get hired

You’ll usually be expected to apply to a particular business area, so it’s important to undertake internships and work placements to determine which spheres of financial services you’d like to enter. Other ways to get the inside scoop include learning about companies and graduate experiences on the GradAustralia website (gradaustralia.com.au), researching company websites to get a feel for their projects, clients and culture, and attending presentations and open days.

If you’d like to ‘try before you buy’, it’s a good idea to apply to a large organisation that can offer you lots of opportunities to give different roles a go — particularly those that offer rotational graduate programs, where you work across different business areas or specialties in a structured program.

Fintech placements are easier and harder to come by — it’s hard to find a graduate job, but it’s easier than ever to toy around with your own ideas and get them into an incubator program, effectively creating your own job.

Key skills you need

Analytical thinking

Grads need to be able to grasp new concepts and process information quickly — whether it’s gathering and absorbing new data, managing a project or meeting a new client. While academic performance is important in this field for ensuring your ability to do the work, recruiters will want to see that you are able to apply this ability to fast and practical problem-solving.

Communication

Banking and financial services involves conveying complex information in a relatable and professional manner to clients and stakeholders, so learning to communicate in this manner is crucial. Recruiters will be assessing your communication abilities from the moment you complete your application form to your final interview, so make sure to show what you can do from the start.

Innovation

Employers are looking for forward thinkers who can provide fresh ideas for the company, and will gravitate towards those with a can-do attitude and enthusiasm for innovation.

Alternatives to banking and financial services

If you’re considering banking and financial services, you might also like to consider…