Abysmal A-level grades, non-target uni, is there any point trying to peruse a career in finance

Hi everyone, Ive never used WSO before so I apologies if the formatting is wrong. But let me explain my situation. My A level grades are embarrassing EUB (I wouldn't even count the U since it's ungraded) I had some learning difficulties during my A levels with medical evidence. But there's only so much you can excuse. 

I somehow got into university on a foundation degree and am now in my second year of my economics degree. I've scored 98-99% in all my heavy maths based modules. However, I have no work experience, only virtual insight days that required no application process. I've applied to internships and got rejected (no surprise). Even to the diversity ones. Im self teaching myself financial courses to make my CV look some what better. But nothing seems to be working. Should I just retake my a levels or switch industry's into something less competitive. Please help!! 

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Comments (9)

Oct 13, 2021 - 4:37am

British system is so fucked. Your life is so much more difficult if you didn't come from a household that values education or for other reasons struggled with your secondary school education. There's no sense in giving up though, I'd just be digging deeper to find work and look into smaller companies. You'll get filtered out a lot by big firms hiring process.

Most Helpful
Oct 14, 2021 - 2:28pm

You have a few options:

1. Do a Target MSc (LBS, LSE, Imperial) and break in that way - would try and cold email to get some experience prior to the masters though

2. go into big 4 do ACA and lateral into an MM/EB at the A3 level

3. go into a diff industry for a few years do an MBA and then switch


  • 3
Oct 15, 2021 - 5:25am

Re Target MFin: possible but still very difficult. A semi-target MFin would still help in your case. But ultimately you're still going to be autofiltered by many screens.

You may need A-Level Maths for target MFin. Do you have this OP?

You'll probably also need an EXCELLENT GMAT, I would start studying for this NOW if this is your plan.

Oct 15, 2021 - 5:18am

I'm going to be incredibly frank with you: not really, no.

As the first poster said, the British system for finance recruiting is fucked. It's incredibly centric on a *history* of academic attainment (because it has a domino effect).

The people who are telling you MBA - much less useful in the UK outside of consulting. 

The people who are telling you B4 - even B4 has A-level requirements which you would not meet unfortunately.

Networking - this is pretty much your only option. It will ONLY work at smaller firms, if at all because you will simply not meet requirements for the larger ones.

Also consider Tier 2/3 professional services firms, I don't know what or if these guys have grade requirements.

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  • Associate 2 in Consulting
Oct 15, 2021 - 5:50am

apply to top10-20 accounting firms --> get qualified --> transfer big 4 --> transfer TS / CF --> try transfer banking. might take a while but if youre super keen on it might be possible. as others have mentioned, even big 4 have a-level requirements...but loads of people transfer into big 4 from smaller places post qualification as so many leave big 4 as well they need to replace them so that could be your way in. 

  • Associate 2 in Consulting
Oct 15, 2021 - 6:08am

This is your best bet, OP.

Most of (if not all) of the big 4 have scrapped A level requirements though, so I'd still apply. You'd probably have a great shot at BDO/GT if not Big 4.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Oct 15, 2021 - 9:14am

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