Can I succeed in Business without Finance related A-levels?

The short answer is yes! The business world is a complicated place, with a whole load of different jobs you could potentially undertake. All these careers require a range of skills and don’t rely solely on those little bits of information people memorised from their finance related A Levels.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the information you are taught in a finance related A Level like maths, further maths, economics or business studies certainly won’t hurt if you want to succeed in business. And having a CV which boasts top grades in these A-level subjects will definitely support your personal brand as a keen banker, accountant or financial adviser to-be!

However, it’s by no means unheard of for school leavers and graduates from non-finance backgrounds to gain a foot in the door in the financial world! Work experience is just as important here. And a diverse set of A-levels is often encouraged by universities offering a degree in business subjects.

So what are the skills you’ll need?

To succeed in most jobs in business there are some core skills that you need.

These are:

  • Commercial awareness
  • High-level of numeracy
  • Analytical skills
  • Determination
  • Tenacity
  • Organisational skills
  • Negotiation and communication skills
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making.

Try out some work placements and internships, keep up to date on news and participate in entrepreneur activities run by your school (like Young Enterprise, for example) to develop some of these skills and demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to a finance career.

Get some work experience…

Getting some work experience during your A-level studies will show some serious commitment to business. The hands on experience will provide you with more skills than a finance related A-level alone!

Financial firms are now starting to realise the potential of young people and some are opening their doors to A-level students to come and experience the world of business. Lots of large firms (including KPMG, PwC, Deloitte and EY) offer Open Days and Insight Days for students at various stages of their education. These events will give you a taste of the business world, and showing your interest at an early stage can be essential for school leaver and graduate positions with some employers. Get on their websites and fill in the form – it’s that simple!

Read all about it…

The business world is constantly changing and it can be hard to keep up. What you learn in a finance related A-level could prove to be out of date quite quickly! Instead keep up to date with the business goings on by reading a business/finance related publication. It may seem a little alien at first, and you may need to google some of the terms as you go, but the more you do it the easier it gets.

Try reading the Financial TimesThe EconomistThe Spectator or The Week (see our guide to reading these publications for more information). Do this, and you’ll be on your way to gaining what employers love – commercial awareness!

Be an entrepreneur…

Most colleges will run the Young Enterprise scheme. This scheme aims to equip students in further education with the skills, attitudes and entrepreneurial experience to build successful careers and achieve in business. Sounds good to me! The scheme lets you set up and run a real firm for a year and get the practical skills needed for success in business in the future. It will allow you to develop your skills in organisation, negotiation, problem solving and decision making (spotting any parallels with the list above…?)

To find out more you can check out the Young Enterprise website.

From all of this you’ll see that business is about more than a finance related A-level, so don’t let it worry you too much if finance is the career path you want to follow in the long run. You can gain the skills needed to succeed in business in many different and interesting ways – and these don’t all take place in a classroom!