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Routes into finance – Apprenticeships versus Degrees

Moving On spoke found out about three young people’s routes into a finance career. One is an apprentice, one began her career in full time employment and the other is on a six-year school leaver programme to gain a paid-for degree.

AmyAmy Kirby is an investment manager’s assistant at Rathbones Investment Management in Liverpool. She is on an apprenticeship programme.

Having studied A-levels Amy knew that she did not want to go to university,

I had no particular subject I wanted to study, plus I didn’t want to start life in debt and I was accustomed to life at home and did not want to move out, so an apprenticeship offered me the chance to start working and earning money, whilst still studying for qualifications.

Being an apprentice, I get a lot more support than I would if I were employed full time at the company, which I think has been beneficial coming straight from school where I was used to teachers always being there.”

As part of the apprenticeship Amy has completed a Level 3 NVQ in Business and Administration and the CISI Investment Operations Certificate (IOC) and she has been able to begin the CISI Investment Advice Diploma (IAD). However, she told us that “On the down side, all my friends have gone to university so unfortunately I do not see them as often as I would like.”

Aimee Le Mercier is currently working for RBC in the corporate actions department.  Her job involves processing corporate action events such as mergers, takeovers and redemptions. photo.jpeg

At school, Aimee’s studies were always orientated around business and finance and she opted for for GCSEs in business, ICT, maths and French – all of which she carried on studying at A-level.  Whilst taking her A-levels, Aimee also chose to study the CISI Introduction to Securities and Investment finance course to develop further knowledge of the finance sector.

Unlike Amy, Aimee chose to go straight into full time employment after finishing her A-levels.

I chose to go into employment over going to university, due to the opportunities that are offered to me and I feel that I have made the right decision in the route that I have taken; I get to experience working life and to further my studies; all while getting paid!

Some people may think I am losing out as I haven’t had the experience of moving away and going to university, however everyone is different and for me, employment was the right decision.”

HollyHolly Welford is an Audit Assistant with KPMG, on the KPMG School and College Leaver Programme, which is a six year course.

Holly always knew that she wanted to go to university and after studying for her A-levels she joined KPMG.






KPMG put me through university at Exeter, my professional exams with ICAS and are now giving me on-the-job training. At the end of the programme I will be a fully qualified accountant with a degree and a job.

The Audit School and College Leaver Programme works well for me because I am never in one place for too long. I have already had the opportunity to live in Exeter, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Bristol.

It is quite a fast-paced course – within three months I’d done my first term at university, taken the related exams, started a new job and moved into a new house in Cambridge.

The downside is that you do go to work very quickly and hours can be long. It also means you don’t get quite the same university experience, you don’t get the long holidays and we weren’t always there in normal term times, which can make joining societies a little harder.”

Want to know more about routes into finance? – visit our dedicated finance and accounting page which has information on careers from entry level jobs in accountancy to graduate as well as information on apprenticeships.

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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