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Public Sector & Defence careers

Business, Finance & Tax

Why get into business, finance & tax?

Tax issues, financial systems and business operations affect every aspect of society in some way or another. Consequently, the regulation and development of the UK’s financial and business systems are forever at the forefront of the government’s agenda.

A range of organisations are responsible for formulating policy on business, finance and tax, regulating the operations of financial service companies and making sure the UK’s economy is secure and stable. The primary government departments involved in this area are:

What do these people do?

If you open a newspaper, watch the news or check out the latest scoops online, you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear the words ‘recession’, ‘economy’, ‘tax’ or ‘finance’ at some point, even if you skip past the “boring” stuff and head straight for the sports news and celebrity gossip.

The world revolves around money and consequently, the economy has always been, and always will be, a major priority for the UK government. The recent recession has placed even more focus on the economy, so whilst you’re tucking into your ‘credit crunch lunch’, you should probably investigate how your career can help to bring about social reform and stabilise the economy.

The importance of the economy means that the majority of government organisations which focus on business, finance and tax have a particularly healthy recruitment policy, with their own graduate schemes, work experience programmes and a range of job opportunities for school leavers too.

Understandably, the organisations that operate in this area of the public sector provide a wealth of opportunities for economists, financial analysts, accountants, risk analysts, statisticians and other people with a mathematics background.

However, you don’t need an academic background in economics or mathematical sciences to pursue a career in this area. Indeed, you could work as an administrator, researcher, policy advisor, lawyer, HR professional, marketing executive or I.T. specialist.

What roles exist within business, finance & tax?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) are responsible for regulating the UK’s financial services industry. They monitor the markets and make sure that firms adhere to strict rules and regulations when they are making financial deals and transactions. They enforce these regulations and, in doing so, they aim to stop financial crime, fraud and other dodgy dealings.

For entry-level positions, the FCA focuses its efforts on recruiting talented graduates through its Graduate Development Programme. This gives graduates an insight into its different units:

  • Authorisations
  • Communications and International
  • Corporate Services
  • Enforcement and Financial Crime
  • General Counsel
  • Internal Audit
  • Markets
  • Operations
  • Policy, Risk and Research
  • Supervisions.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) make sure that all of the tax which is owed in the UK is paid in a timely and accurate fashion. Essentially, the organisation’s remit focuses on administration and enforcement.

If you take the non-uni route you can start your career with the organisation as an administrator, where you might be carrying out data input, filing, liaising with customers, processing statistical information and managing invoices.

If admin doesn’t float your boat and you want a more interactive role, you could take on a position in the HMRC’s customer service department, where you’ll be dealing with customer enquiries over the telephone from the comfort of an HMRC contact centre.

The HMRC also has its own graduate scheme, the Tax Professional Development Programme, which develops the organisation’s new breed of expert tax professionals.

Furthermore, the department employs trainee accountants through its Accountancy Programme, trainee solicitors and barristers through the Government Legal Service and economists, researchers and statisticians via the Civil Service Fast Stream. Moreover, the HMRC employs marketing executives and I.T. specialists.

Headed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) is the central government department that looks after the UK’s policy on economics and finance. This is the ministry behind the Budget.

HMT offers opportunities for budding policy analysts, economists, accountants, lawyers, and researchers, which help the department to formulate and deliver policy. The organisation, however, would be nowhere without the administrators and corporate service departments that support its operations and deal with HR, finance, procurement, communications and I.T.

HMT takes on a number of grads each year via the Civil Service Fast Stream. Summer work experience schemes and sandwich placement opportunities are also on offer for university students.

The Bank of England issues banknotes in England and Wales and is responsible for setting the UK’s interest rate. The people that work within the organisation help to maintain monetary and fiscal stability in the UK. Career opportunities are available for graduates, postgraduates and school leavers.

The Bank runs a graduate scheme, known as the Analyst Career Training (ACT) Programme, for talented grads with an excellent academic background and awesome analytical skills. They also offer a postgraduate scheme for postgrads with a Master’s in economics or finance. The analytical role that you will adopt via these entry routes will allow you to have a direct influence on financial policy.

The organisation also employs specialist economists with PhDs, and school leavers who are recruited via the Initial Entry Scheme. After finishing their A-levels, students can enter the scheme and take on essential administrative roles in the Bank’s Banking Services and Monetary and Financial Statistics Divisions, where they will be tasked with processing financial information and statistical data. School leavers with an active interest in I.T. can also work in technical support and application development.

If you’ve got money on the mind, and you’re happy to get friendly with those figures then you might be on to something with a career in the business, finance and tax sector!