Financial Services


The Northern Ireland Financial Services sector is thriving, with 36,000 people currently working in the sector. The industry is made up of a variety of sub-sectors which covers finance, banking, insurance, defence and healthcare.

In recent years, Northern Ireland has gained an international reputation for their expertise in trading and payments technologies, as well as analytics and cybersecurity. A report from the UK Parliament found that financial services in Northern Ireland generated £1.2bn in economic output. Belfast also holds the title for being the number one city in the world for foreign direct investment in the Fintech (financial technology) sector. Not bad for such a small country, eh?!

The local universities are keen to keep up the momentum, with Queen’s opening the UK’s largest cyber-security focused university technology research, development and innovation centre. The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) aims to be a global innovation hub for cyber security, accelerating new value creation, driving new venture creation and building capacity for the cyber security industry.


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For such a small city, Belfast has a thriving industry in Financial Services. With the industry encompassing many different sectors, including: insurance, professional services, fintech and IT, there are many different companies based in Northern Ireland for you to start your career with.

In the Insurance industry, there are firms such as Dickson & Co and the Kerr Group, whilst in the financial services sector there are firms such as St James’ Place, as well as global players such as: PwC, FinTrU, EY, IQEQ, KPMG, Citibank and Pearson.

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The financial services industry employs more than 36,000 people in Northern Ireland, and that number is set to grow over the coming years

Belfast was voted 3rd globally for 'Fintech Locations of the Future 2019/20', behind London & Singapore (fDi Intelligence, 2019)

Belfast is the number one destination globally for fintech investment

Queen's opened the UK’s largest cyber-security focused university technology research, development and innovation centre - the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT)


Salaries for graduates in the financial services sector differ based on your role and experience (as with every sector). An entry level role such as a Client Advisor can earn you around £18,000 to £22,000 depending on if you have experience through a placement or internship etc.

If you choose to study the LIBF Level 4 Diploma for Financial Advisers, this can increase your earning power. Salaries for someone in an admin role with a Diploma can start anywhere from £23,000 to £26,000.

Someone in a financial advisory role with a Diploma can earn upwards of £28,000 to £40,000. This doesn’t include commission and bonuses, which can bring your on-target-earnings (OTE) to £100,000.

Benefits too?!

A role in this industry doesn’t only offer a generous financial package, you can also receive a generous benefits package as well! Popular benefits offered by employers in this industry include: remote working (work from home), flexible working, a healthcare plan, an above average pension and enhanced holidays.

Why wouldn’t you want to work in this industry?

If you decide to go down the self-employed route, you obviously won’t receive these benefits. However, as a self-employed advisor you can end up earning significantly more money, if you are comfortable with the lack of job security, that is.

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If you are thinking about going to university to have a career in financial services, a degree the most commonly studied subjects for undergraduates in this area fall into a category called FAME. FAME covers Finance, Accounting, Management and Economics. Other subject areas that can lead to a career in finance include: Maths, Business Studies and even Law!

Queen’s and Ulster both offer lots of courses if a career in financial services is up your street. At Queen’s you can study Mathematics with Finance, Economics with Finance & Accounting. If the cyber side of financial services is more appealing, you can choose to study a course such as Software Engineering with Digital Technology Partnership, Computer Science and Computing & Information Technology.

Ulster also offer a range of courses, including Finance and Investment Management, Business Economics and Accounting & Management. They also offer lots of courses on the more digital side of things, including Software Engineering, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence.

Courses Available

Ulster Uni

Ulster University

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Queen's University

24+ Courses
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Belfast Met

Belfast Met

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Some roles in the financial services industry you won’t need a degree for. If you want to enter the industry as a Financial Services Administrator for example, a degree is not always essential, though it may be preferred.

If you decide this is the career path for you, in order to be able to provide financial advice, you have to study for what is called the LIBF Level 4 Diploma for Financial Advisers. This qualification is an industry benchmark which meets the Financial Conduct Authority’s requirement for investment advisers. It helps give you the knowledge and skills you need to be able to provide independent advice to your future clients. The benefit of this is that you can greatly increase your salary if gain professional qualifications, early retirement anyone?

NI Direct offer an assured skills pre-employment training programme for people who are unemployed, under-employed (employed in a job you are over-qualified for or who want to change career.

The programme is delivered in an academy-style training and works with local companies to offer training specifically tailored to meet the needs for those jobs. If you successfully complete the training programme, you are offered a job interview with the company.

Companies offer assured skills programmes in Financial Services. The benefit of this is that you are paid a weekly training allowance of £150 and you are reimbursed with your weekly travel expenses, whilst also being potentially fast-tracked into a career.

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Industry Partners

Chartered Institute of Insurance

The Chartered Insurance Institute is a professional body for the insurance sector. The CII’s purpose, as set out in its 1912 royal charter, is to ‘Secure and justify the confidence of the public’ in its members and the insurance sector as a whole.

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Chartered Management

The Chartered Management Institute is an accredited professional institution for management based in the United Kingdom.

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