Finance, Banking and Insurance

"Individuals with a science background can develop unique and rewarding careers in the finance industry that cannot typically be achieved by those with conventional finance qualifications." TOM PRICE, GLOBAL COMMODITIES ANALYST AT UBS AUSTRALIA

Looking for excellent job prospects on top of a rich and rewarding career path? Consider the sector of financial services. Combining the fields of finance, banking and insurance, financial services is Australia’s largest industry, which contributes $129.8 billion to Australia’s $1.2 trillion economy and employs 400,000 Australians.

Even with obvious changes in the current economic climate, Tom Price, Global Commodities Analyst at UBS Australia, agrees that the financial services industry will always offer stability and diversity in employment.

“High quality expertise is always in demand in this sector throughout the business cycle,” he says.

Science-trained individuals are a major source of this high quality expertise, because the analytical and numeric skills developed in a science degree – particularly model-based, applied mathematical skills – are entirely transferrable to the finance sector.

Also, organisations see the benefit of having expertise from a range of academic backgrounds, including humanities and sciences, to add to their economics and finance base. “We actively seek skills from as wide a professional sphere as possible in order to enhance our research capability. A dual-degree across science and finance, such as Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Commerce, or an appropriate mix of education and industry experience will make you highly sought after by organisations such as UBS,” says Mr Price.

Further, Mr Price adds that science training can even give you an added edge and will open doors to a range of employment possibilities in finance. “Individuals with a science background can develop unique and rewarding careers in the finance industry that cannot typically be achieved by those with conventional finance qualifications, covering roles as diverse as analysis, consultancy and investment,” he says.

Finance organisations certainly look for high-calibre graduates, but technical skills and academic results are not the only focus, says Mr Price. “Degree subject is less important than a graduate’s ability to prove they can analyse problems, plan ahead, make decisions, demonstrate sound judgement, and communicate with others. The other qualities we look for in graduates are ambition, integrity, a commitment to accuracy and a desire to work as part of a friendly but driven team,” he says.

As a science student looking to branch into this industry, a number of financial services organisations offer holiday work experience programs for university students. Others, such as UBS, offer highly prized internships or graduate positions, and those who have not majored in economics or business are especially encouraged to apply. Although competition for these places can be intense, these programs offer an excellent entry point to an organisation, and are the best way to get a good overview of the industry and your chosen organisation.

Statistics and salaries

  • The industry contributes $129.8 billion to Australia’s $1.2 trillion economy.
  • The industry has been the largest industry contributor to the Australian economy since 2006.
  • The industry currently employs over 400,000 people in Australia, 3.6 per cent of total employment.

Average salaries:

  • Financial advisor/manager: $82,000
  • Analyst: $97,000
  • Finance executives: $146,000 plus (depending upon the industry and the specific role)


Industry bodies/associations

Government bodies

Courses to consider

Consider enrolling in one of the following courses and majors to prepare yourself for a career in Finance, Banking and Insurance.

Our courses:

Also see the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the University of Sydney Business School.

Our majors: