• Background South West

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    Sector Overview

    Finance & Law

    • The number of solicitors has more risen by over a third since 2006

    • The legal services sector’s turnover is more than £25 billion

    • Non-solicitor and barrister legal services account for about a third of the legal sector

    • There are 100 different banks incorporated in the UK

    • Over 1 million people work in audit, tax and accountancy businesses

    • Starting salaries in the financial sector are typically around £23,000 – £24,000

    • There are around 24,000 business providing financial services and more than 37,000 offering accountancy services

    Finance covers a wide range of different careers but the main theme running throughout is, you guessed it, money. The main subsectors are dealing with personal finance, so financial advisors and bank clerks, and corporate finance, which covers accountancy and more commercial bankers.

    Legal careers can range from being an administrator to a barrister. In terms of office based jobs, legal administrators and paralegals will be checking on case law and arranging meetings, and may well have their own clients. Barristers are usually the ones dealing with the high-profile court cases, whereas solicitors are more office focused, dealing with contracts and commercial law.


    Finance & Law


    Accountancy is all about crunching numbers and keeping track of both companies and individual people’s finances. Every company has an accountant, no matter what trade it’s in and you might be tasked with anything from profit forecasts (how much money the company is expected to make) to calculating how much tax is owed to the government (how much money the company is expected to pay in tax. Obviously.)

    Financial Advice

    Everybody needs financial advice at some point; whether it’s getting a mortgage for a new house, making a big purchase (a new car or big holiday) or planning for a baby, people need to know how to manage the funds they have to get the most out of their money. You’ll be giving out advice to a whole host of clients, from individuals and families to multi-national corporations.


    Banking is a broad term for everything to do with personal and corporate finances. It’s a huge sector that comprises 3 different sectors; Commercial Banking (local banks such as HSBC, Lloyds and Natwest), Corporate Banking (for businesses) and wholesale banking (for the government and other international banks). You’ll be tasked with managing money, approving loans, exchanging foreign money and paying in/cashing cheques.

    Legal Administration

    A court of law isn’t just a judge, council and jury; there are lots of people working behind the scenes to make sure the legal process is as smooth as possible. You could be arranging evidence for a case, making sure reports and studies are all in order and even taking notes in the court room on a hearing.

    What can I expect to earn?

    Salaries in the Finance sector vary depending on how qualified you are. Starting salaries are usually between £10,500 and £13,000, but in some sectors, such as banking, you receive yearly bonuses which increase as your salary goes up. Legal salaries tend to start a bit higher, somewhere around the £14,500 mark and then tend to go up based on your role and qualification. The average fully qualified legal administrator earns around £27,000.


    Finance & Law


    There are a few Apprenticeships you can undertake to get you into this sector. Apprenticeships count as a Level 2 qualification and you it will take the form of an NVQ, Diploma or BTEC.
    Accounting • Payroll • Marketing and Communications • Providing Financial Services

    Advanced Apprenticeships

    These are the equivalent to A-Levels and can usually be joined after completing the associated Intermediate Apprenticeship. They are ideal for people who want a practical role as they learn while gaining valuable employment experience. People with Advanced Apprenticeships tend to progress up the ladder a lot quicker than those without, as the skills they learn are more suited to management and supervisory roles. Here are some of the Apprenticeship Frameworks for this sector and all of these will result in a Level 3 qualification such as a BTEC, a Diploma or an NVQ.
    Accounting • Advising on Financial Products • Payroll • Providing Financial Services • Legal Services


    A-Levels are the most popular gateway into university and are sought after by employers. Here are some of the relevant A-Levels for this sector:
    Maths • Economics • Business Studies • Law • Accounting • Statistics

    Foundation Degrees

    A Foundation Degree combines university lifestyle with practical, hands on work. It’s sort of like a cross between an Apprenticeship and an Honours Degree. They are often used as gateway qualifications to a full time Degree as they count towards the first two years of an Honours Degree. They usually take two years to complete and you’ll be both in the work place and on the university campus.

    Employer funded study

    If you don’t fancy going to uni but still want to be an accountant, you can train through organisations such as ICAEW and PwC. KMPG are ideal for school leavers and offer a 6 year course which will result in an internationally recognised award instead of an honours degree.

    Professional Qualifications

    You can also undertake short courses to boost your credentials and specialise in a certain area of the Finance and Law sector. For example, to work in investment banking you could gain a CISI Introduction to Investment award.

    More Info

    Finance & Law

    Case Study

    Finance & Law

    Chris Hainsworth, Managing Director, AV Pictures, London

    I didn’t always want to be a chartered accountant, in fact one of my early aspirations was to be a film director!

    I now run a small international film sales agency where I have oversight of all distribution agreements, and am directly responsible for all business operations, including finance, IT, marketing and human resources. We advise film producers and financiers about the market value of the international distribution rights of their films.

    A typical week for me means meeting with producers, watching rough cuts of films, and assessing the commercial value of the film with different elements such as cast and budget level. I’ve travelled to festivals in Melbourne and Goa, where I have spent time with aspiring producers who have spent years finding and refining stories.

    A highlight for me was my first trip to Los Angeles. It’s easy to romanticise about the city, staying in Beverly Hills and meeting agents. I even found myself in the waiting room at an emergency doctors, sitting next to someone working on a draft script for series one of Ugly Betty!