CV Spotlight: Financial Services

Financial Service jobs aren’t for everyone – it can be an intensely competitive industry, which means your CV will need to shine in order to make it through to the interview phase of a job application. Follow the advice below, and give yourself the best chance of success.

Qualifications and Experience

The most important sections of your CV are your qualifications and experience, so shine the light on these things first. Keep your education section short and sweet, simply listing the schools you’ve attended, and the qualifications you received. Only include impressive grades, and be mindful of the achievements that are actually worthy of attention. One day workshops probably won’t impress the right people – and the hiring manager won’t need to know where you went to primary or secondary school.

If you have experience in private equity, real estate, commercial broking, forecasting or budgeting, these will be beneficial – but employers have expanded their hiring criteria in order to access a larger pool of talent, so entry-level hiring is possible.

A Note On Hobbies

Interests can be good for making yourself stand out from the crowd, but don’t overdo it. Ensure that anything you include is relevant to the job you’re applying for, and try to stick to active, or mind-sharpening activities like marathon-running or the learning of musical instruments. Passive hobbies just won’t strike the right tone.

A Note On Detail

CV expert Victoria McClean says that approximately 68% of hiring managers will reject a CV that has a typo – yes, just one spelling mistake or grammatical goof could cost you the job. Make more than one error, and that rejection rate goes up to a whopping 97% – so check your spelling religiously. Try to be consistent with style and formatting – don’t use more than two different typefaces, and check you’re being consistent with the way you’re using language – don’t jump between ‘and’ and ‘&’, for example – these details seem tiny, but they make an impression.

A Note On Bots

Be aware that you’ll need to get your CV past the resume bots before a human will get a chance to see it – most recruiters in the financial services industry now use an application tracking system (ATS) to filter applications. These bots will scan your CV for specific terms and keywords – which seems tricky, but as long as you pay attention to the job description, it should be fairly simple to include the appropriate terms throughout – and make sure you check our keyword bank at the end of this article for a few suggestions of popular keywords for this industry.

Make sure you submit a Microsoft Word version of your CV, as this is the preferred file type for bots. Finally, ensure you’re not using hyperlinks, photos or tables in your layout, as these can interfere with an ATS. 

Skills

This section of your CV should include any banking or insurance systems you’ve used in previous roles, along with any systems experience you have, such as proficiency with Excel (if applicable), and if appropriate, evidence regarding your soft skills.

Technical Skills

Accounting and finance: IFRS, SOX and UK GAAP knowledge will definitely work in your favour, but strong IT skills are the most important asset you can bring to the table. You should be proficient on Excel, for example. For investment management, employers will be looking for evidence that you can lead multiple projects. For investment banking and brokerage, you should bring senior-level insight, and ideally be savvy with Basel III and ICAAP

Banking operations: Thanks to systems advancements in the industry, candidates with expertise in systems will have an advantage. Some exposure to EMIR, the Dodd-Frank Act, AIFMD and AML is desirable – but you should definitely be able to provide evidence that you’re capable of delivering impeccable client service. 

Risk and compliance: Exposure to EMIR, the Dodd-Frank Act, FATCA and AEOI are all crucial for candidates. Hiring managers are looking for people who are clued-up on anti-bribery and corruption, and anyone skilled in AML will be in high demand. 

A Note on Location

Some of these requirements are regional, for example Dodd Frank is most relevant for companies who have a large involvement with the US. Always check the focus of operations of the place you’re applying to.

Soft Skills

Commercial Skills: Demonstrate that you understand the nature of the business, the role you’re applying for, and the core values of the organisation. Business knowledge, especially relating to financial services, will demonstrate that you’re committed to a career in the industry, so be sure to include this in your CV.

Communication: Since most roles in financial services require candidates to communicate with people at all levels, and tailor communication styles as necessary, any experience of comms under pressure is worth mentioning.

Teamwork: Employers are looking for candidates who will be able to fit seamlessly into existing teams, so ensure your CV demonstrates your ability to work effectively as a member of a team, and add value when you work alongside colleagues. 


Organisation: Financial service hiring managers are always on the hunt for candidates who are capable of juggling tasks and working on a number of projects at once. Use your CV to reveal your ability to hit deadlines and use resources in the most efficient way possible.

Creativity: Specifically, problem-solving skills are useful in the financial services industry. If you have any experience of making things work more effectively in previous roles, make sure you include evidence of this on your CV.

Emotional Intelligence: Strong relationships are key in the financial services industry, from investors, to clients, to partners and other parties. Self-awareness is key, and employers are hungry for individuals who are capable of understanding how their actions affect others.

Leadership: A savvy hiring manager is always looking for future leaders, and people who’ll be able to take the organisation forward over the coming years. If you have experienced success in a leadership role before, make sure you acknowledge this in your CV. 

Keyword Bank

Advanced Excel
Pivots
Macros (especially building macros from scratch)
Financial Modelling

SQL
VBA
Real EstatePrivate Equity
Commercial Broking