There’s a good reason so many clever students graduate into finance: the work pays quite well. According to Reed, the average salary for an entry-level U.K. financial analyst is £42,080 per annum. That’s right out of university, to be clear.
Dig a bit deeper into Reed’s data and the picture brightens further. A great mass of young analysts earn £50,000 or less, but that’s because many have yet to earn full licensure. They’re working for a pittance, in other words. Fully credentialed analysts earn far more. More than one-third of Reed’s sample earned £60,000 or more per year. Even in London, that’s enough for a place of one’s own.
These figures apply to all financial firms, mind you. Blue chip companies with deep reserves of cash and immaculate reputations to protect hire only the best and brightest graduates, and they’re willing to pay a premium to attract them. Above-average pay, coupled with excellent benefits and increasingly flexible working cultures, set these organisations apart from the rest.
These eight companies aren’t the only firms targeted by whip-smart U.K. finance grads. Many, for example, opt for smaller U.K. finance companies. But the companies below do routinely appear on lists of the best U.K. finance companies to work for. And they’ve done it again this year. In no particular order, here they are:
- Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse is a financial firm’s financial firm. The flagship U.K. office is located in Canary Wharf, and the company employs hundreds of highly paid analysts, traders and risk managers in Greater London.
First-rate salaries and industry-leading benefits go without saying at Credit Suisse. More interesting is the company’s culture. Despite its impenetrable Swiss veneer, Credit Suisse is actually quite progressive: it’s been carbon-neutral since 2010, one of the first major financial firms to take that step. And, since the start of the decade, Credit Suisse has actively worked to expand its sustainable investment portfolio – going so far as to subject all prospective transactions to a proprietary climate risk analysis.
KPMG in the U.K., as it’s properly known, is the semi-autonomous U.K. outpost of KPMG, a storied network of loosely affiliated financial firms.
Like single-location shops, KPMG in the U.K. looks and feels like a cohesive unit. It conducts business with minimal central oversight, simply because there isn’t a tremendous amount of central oversight to be had. Independent, self-starting finance professionals do well here.
KPMG in the U.K. is supported by an immediately recognisable brand, boasts an enviable client portfolio, and has ample resources to compensate its employees handsomely. What’s more, the firm is better positioned than most to excel in the post-Brexit environment, thanks to a strong background in tax compliance and business risk analysis.
UBS is a distinguished wealth management firm that serves countless members of the proverbial 1%. Though UBS has adjusted its compensation model to reflect increased competition among wealth management and financial advisory firms, it more than holds its own against semi-automated upstarts and smaller, scrappier full-service firms. And, despite its pedigree, UBS has a robust impact investing enterprise – perfect for idealistic finance professionals whose desire to improve the world stands on equal footing with the profit motive.
UBS also has a legendary investment banking arm, the U.K. branch of which is officed – where else – in the City. If you find yourself on the lucrative i-banking track, it’s hard to do better than UBS.
- Grant Thornton
The main U.K. offices of this staid U.S. auditing and tax advisory firm are conveniently located in Central London. There’s also a satellite in Chelmsford – perfect for rising finance professionals for whom the City’s bustle wears thin. And Grant Thornton’s approach is quite hands-on, attracting motivated advisors and consultants who prefer to measure their impact with their own eyes and ears.
Do you own a car, a home, a rental property? Do you travel for business or leisure, supplement NIH with private health insurance, or require medical services abroad? Do you have your own business entity or commercial van? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, there’s a good chance you’ve at least considered using AXA’s insurance products.
You know Paris-based AXA is a massive insurance company, but did you also know they have a significant presence in the U.K. – and that their employee treatment is the stuff of legend? The laissez-faire French working attitude has certainly followed AXA across the channel. All the better for ambitious finance grads seeking exceptional pay and exceptional work-life balance.
EY, formerly Ernst & Young, is an American auditing and tax advisory firm with tentacles in nearly every developed nation, including the U.K. EY’s London operation is the firm’s de facto European home office, even post-Brexit. If you’re a recent graduate aspiring to balance the cultural autonomy of a fiercely independent continental headquarters with the backing of a truly global finance firm willing to outbid the competition for talent, EY is the gold standard.
Deloitte is a global financial advisory firm that specialises in audits, tax compliance and business consulting. It’s unusually student friendly, with well-financed study-to-employment programs for students and even school leavers – who, while encouraged to work over a gap year to gain some practical experience, can proceed straight through to full-time work with Deloitte.
Always a focus, Deloitte’s risk management vertical has grown substantially in recent years. It’s keen on tech-savvy grads with backgrounds in cybersecurity and white-hat hacking – the sorts of skills one doesn’t necessarily learn at university.
- First Derivatives
First Derivatives’ unassuming Newry home office belies its ambition. Populated by a staff of brilliant quants and continually adding to a client list that includes some of the largest and best-regarded finance firms on the planet, First Derivatives quite literally makes the world of finance go round. If you’d rather apply your impeccable maths credentials to solving the incredibly complex problems posed by an ever more connected global financial market than fake a smile through the latest in an interminable series of client meetings, First Derivatives is for you.