Do I need top GCSE grades for a finance career?

The pressure is always on from teachers and parents to nail the best grades you can in your GCSEs or Scottish Standards. And let’s not beat around the bush; the better your results are, the better it looks on your CV! But do you need to ace your GCSEs or Scottish Standards to be in with a shot at a career in finance?

The financial sector is one of the most competitive and lucrative sectors out there. Banks, consultancies and financial institutions are therefore always on the lookout for the best applicants: people with great credentials to help them make as much money as they can! High-quality applications with strong GCSE/Scottish Standards grades to boot do need to be part of the package to help you to break into this sector.

So how good do my grades need to be?

Well, you don’t need to have more stars than the US flag to fit the bill. Firms running school leaver programmes, apprenticeships and graduate schemes will have their own specific eligibility requirements but a grade B or higher in Maths and English will usually be a must-have.

Strong skills in maths and English are very important in the finance world. Many roles will obviously require you to be switched on with the old numbers. In the modern business environment it’s no good being a whizz kid with maths if you aren’t able to communicate your findings to your colleagues and clients in a clear, refined manner as well—hence the focus on excellent abilities in English. If you can manage to keep your grades for your other subjects in the same sort of bracket, then all the better!

Another reason for the requirement of strong GCSE/Scottish Standards grades is to do with professional qualifications that form part of many entry-level jobs within business and finance. Some professional qualifications such as the ACCA can amount to the equivalent of a master’s degree on completion, so they need to know you have the ability to potentially take on high levels of study alongside your work.

What if I don’t get the grades I need?

In such a competitive sector, it can be difficult to progress if you fall short of the grades you need. However, there is potential to earn a chance if you also display a genuine enthusiasm for an industry or role in an application. Commercial awareness is essential for a finance career; if you can show that you are making an effort to develop this with concrete examples in your application, you may just nudge an employer into further considering you application.

And if you do have the grades, don’t think it’s all plain sailing from here! Get reading the Financial Times, start to develop your knowledge of businesses and the industries that interest you and think about what makes you suitable for a particular role. It takes more than good grades to stand out!