Non Conventional Routes into Banking and Finance

If you want to get into a front office role (investment decision-making roles) in finance in an establised financial centre like London or New York, and as a fresh graduate if you haven't graduated from a target university, your chances are very slim. Alternatively, if you are from another industry and trying crossover into B & F front office then you also face problems. 

​Does that mean you are stuck with no solution whatsoever ? After all you might have graduated with a really good degree from a good university, are you to give up your dreams just like that ?


​I don't think so, fortunately there is a plan you can follow. Why not re-locate out of London to another establised centre for a couple of years , get your experience then return to London as an experienced hire. 


​The place I am talking about is Singapore , a well established financial centre but with lower entry requirements. After you return to London from this place with 2 years as a fund manager or whatever, then you can apply on equal footing with other London based applicants.  After all what is the difference between a successful fund manager of East Asian stocks and another managing an East European portfolio when applying for an emerging markets vacancy in London ? Very little, congratulations you have beaten the system.


​Of course you want to know how low are lower requirements ? Well, whilst it is true that the standard has been increasing in recent years but still I know of very senior staff who are graduates of Essex, Exeter, Arizona state, Manchester, SOAS, St Andrews, UEA, Surrey, Birmingham, Aberswyth, Plymouth even and many others. Many of these are fine universities but they are not targets in London. Some did not even go to Uni, yet they became senior managers !


Though I do agree that the cat is getting out the bag and Singapore firms are raising their entry standards to save “ face “ but I still feel it is still a cut below London.

Furthermore there are things you can do to mitgate this development like get a good strong masters from a good uni or a professional qualification like an ACA, this tactic of course is well known to London firms and it is not viable here.

Why ? Because if the financial industry were top consider top – up entry level candidates (Masters and professional) then it would push out a lot of the graduates of target unis. This would not go down well politically as politicians would face a voter revolt over incurring huge debts but ever decreasing chances of getting the job of their dreams.

If you spent £45,000 on a degree at Imperial only to know you've been pipped by a guy from Newcastle with an ACA, you'd be fuming. 

This is why the top-up route does not work in London.

There is nothing intrisically sly about taking a masters ( or a pro-qualification) from a better uni than the one you did your UG at, not at all, it's very legit ! Take this as a free tip but the Orient always value better qualifications with high grades, the more the merrier is the attitude. You could do this and try you luck there, may take you a few months but your chances are better than wasting time in London.

And this is also an important consideration for time has a value, that's why we in finance say there is a time value of money . Or a money value of time in your case ( oppurtunity costs) !

Just think about this, you just graduated from a top 20 non target uni with a 2.1 in economics, you are aware of the target uni policy but sub-consciously you harbour ambitions, quite natural why wouldn't you? On a whim you email around some banks and other finance institutions and explaiin your situation; you got a 2.1 from a good non target uni blah blah blah. Then you get the stock reply “ Errr thank you for your interest, Mr. Smith , you are advised to apply through our custom application page on our website ...“

HR will have a come one, come all policy knowing full well, 90% will be culled at the first hurdle, why do they do this ?

Simple it's to create work for themselves so that their position has the mirage of being in demand. Loads of applications = loads of HR to sift through them, HR's job is secured.

Great, so you then spend the next 9 months doing nothing but filling up these damn things (you know how involved this process is) and ringing / emailing follow ups. At the end you get nothing except you have confirmed to yourself that your non target 2.1 is being ignored.

The oppurtuniy cost of this a year of your vital life wasted for nothing whereas if you did the same thing in Singapore, then your chances would have been better.

Take a look at this guy, graduated from Manchester , above average place but no great shakes, topped up with an ACA and after a few months in SG he's now with Blackrock. Cross over applicants should also take note, his previous experience was in accounting and not Banking and Finance.

If he can do it so can you, I know this because this is the route I took but the window is closing.

Be careful as many Singapore nationals will feign that the entry reqs now are very high, for fear of facing competition from you,but this would be false propaganda for their government has a definite policy to attact foreign executives to work in SG on an equal (some say on a superior level) footing to locals

I now offer a service which will inform you of how to go about this, where and who to target your applications, the kind of qualifications that are best, what the various job functions are (so you won't get shunted off to a post you don't want) the job areas that are in demand, the approach you should take, how to get a legit income source for a year or so whilst you are there applying, insider tips, places to avoid, accomodation tips, applying for an SG employment pass, internet links, how to take a side route job to make contacts and then apply and how to approach if you are a cross over candidate from unrelated industries.

By the way,doesn't matter where you graduate from. Singapore takes anyone from India to Canada, there is no bias.

  • Skype consultation between 2-3 hours based on above topics and more

  • Power point presentation

  • 1 year's email support and document updates

  • Price: £60 or use the ask a question service for £25 

  • 50% Discount for clients of delveloping nations.

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NOTE: I do not represent Singapore in any way.

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