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19th Mar, 2024

Olivia Maguire
Olivia Maguire
Job Title
Content Marketing Lead

Types of careers in finance

The finance sector plays a crucial role in the economy, providing essential services to both individuals and businesses.

If you are interested in the dynamic world of finance, there are several exciting career paths to explore, and the sector is continuing to grow.

According to the government’s ‘State of the sector: annual review of UK financial services 2023’, financial and professional services is one of the most productive industries in the UK, generating £278 billion in economic output. The sector employs 2.5 million people, and the UK attracted the highest amount of foreign direct investment in Europe in 2022; where more than £2 billion was invested in financial and professional services firms – creating almost 15,000 jobs.

Your choice of career path, and salary, depends on your interests, skills, and long-term goals. You could go into financial analysis, accounting, payroll, investment banking, or corporate finance, to name a few.

Whatever avenue you decide to pursue, to excel in a career in finance, you’ll need a combination of technical, interpersonal, and strategic skills. Emotional intelligence, collaboration, leadership skills, business acumen, strategic thinking, good analytical skills, and technical skills such as financial modelling, data analysis, budgeting, and risk assessment are essential. Continuously developing these skills will help you progress even further in your career, enabling you to progress into higher-paid positions.

Best paying jobs in finance

If you are seeking well-paid finance jobs, we have listed the top paying careers in finance for 2024, taken from our 2024 accountancy and finance salary guide, starting with the highest. These figures are for accountancy and finance roles in-house rather than within private practice firms.

Group financial controller

A corporate group, also referred to as a group of companies, comprises a set of ‘parent’ and ‘subsidiary’ corporations that operate as a unified economic entity. Typically, the finances of the group will be managed by the group financial controller. They take ownership of the group’s finance function, including reporting, tax, and treasury. They are responsible for ensuring that robust accounting and reporting is in place across the group.

Group financial controllers will need to be strategic thinkers, with excellent analytical and technical skills, as well as great leadership and communication skills. This is a highly senior position which will require extensive experience and the highest qualifications in the field of finance.

As one of the highest earning finance jobs, the average salary across the UK for a group financial controller is around £84,000. However, this varies across regions: for example, a group financial controller in Yorkshire and Humberside can earn an average of £72,400 yet the same role in London would be £95,800 on average.

Financial controller

The role of a financial controller is similar to the above group financial controller; however, they will be responsible for the finances of a single organisation rather than a group of companies.

Responsibilities include managing all the finance and accounting operations, coordinating and preparing the company’s budget and financial forecasts, as well as developing internal control policies and procedures. Finance controller responsibilities will also include financial risk management.

Financial controllers will also need to be strategic thinkers, with excellent analytical and technical skills. As a highly senior position, it will require many years of experience and excellent financial qualifications.

The average salary across the UK for a financial controller is £65,700 and in Scotland it’s £62,000.

Finance manager

Working closely with chief executives and financial data departments, finance managers oversee the financial health of a business. They help plan their company’s long-term financial targets as well as generating financial reports and overseeing a team of finance professionals.

Typically, finance managers will need to have a degree and at least five years of experience in a finance role, such as accountant or financial analyst.

The average salary in the UK is £57,900. It is one of the best paying jobs in finance but this depends largely on location. For example, a finance manager in London can earn an average of £69,800.

Finance business partner

Finance business partners are senior professionals who work alongside different departments, providing financial information and analysis to senior stakeholders, helping them make more informed decisions when driving business strategy. They are usually a qualified accountant and business partner who help identify financial and commercial risks and mitigate them.

This requires a high level of analytical and communication skills and the ability to engage with stakeholders. Good finance business partners are forward-thinking, analytical and commercially minded.

The average salary of a finance business partner across the UK for 2024 is £56,700. In the South East, you could expect an average salary between £53,200 and £61,500 and the average salary in East Anglia the average salary is £49,700.

Project accountant

One of the highest paying jobs in accounting, project accountants are responsible for monitoring the progress of projects, approving expenses, and ensuring that all income and expenditure is recorded correctly for each project. They will need to create bespoke financial reports tailored to each project, and also work with senior management post-completion to review the success of the project.

Project accountants will need to have great attention to detail, exceptional planning and project management skills – with qualifications to back this up.

On average, project accountants can earn £55,000 per year in the UK. In the South West, you could earn £55,600 but this drops slightly in Wales, where the average salary is £46,300.

Financial accountant

Financial accountants gather and monitor financial data, prepare statements, generate forecasted costs and revenues, manage tax payments, and conduct audits to ensure they are compliant with accounting regulations.

A keen eye for detail is essential, as the role requires the ability to not only spot errors but see where things can be improved. It will also involve sifting and understanding large amounts of data and possessing strong commercial awareness.

In the UK, the average financial accountant can expect to earn an annual salary of £52,600. In the North West, this dips slightly to £47,900 and goes up in London to £61,100.

Commercial accountant

Another one of the highest paying jobs in accounting, commercial accountants are essentially financial accountants who work for a business or corporation. They analyse financial information and irregularities, create forecasts, report on commercial activities, analyse data, generate financial analysis reports and elements of business partnering.

Commercial accountants need to have extensive knowledge of current market and sector conditions, as well as the company’s competitors. They play a key role in strategic and commercial decision-making.

This role is best suited to accountants who like working with data and are interested in using technology to help with analysis.

The average salary across the UK is £46,800 – however this goes down to £39,000 in the North East.

Payroll manager

Moving away from accountancy, the next in the list of highest paying jobs in finance is a payroll manager, who plays a vital role across all organisations. They oversee employee compensation, maintain accurate payroll records, and ensure compliance with legal requirements. They calculate wages, manage payroll systems, and address employee enquiries.

A degree in finance or accounting is typically required as well as strong leadership and problem-solving abilities, good communication skills, and in-depth experience with all aspects of payroll management.

The average salary a payroll manager can expect to earn in the UK is £45,400 – but again, this is highly dependent on location. In the East Midlands, the average is £39,800 and the West Midlands it jumps significantly to £48,100.

Management accountant

Management accountants make the final spot in the top 10 highest paying jobs in finance. Ultimately, they are responsible for helping businesses manage their finances. But there’s much more to it. They are business leaders, innovators, decision-makers, and forecasters.

In their day-to-day role, they interpret financial data, prepare reports, and use their extensive business knowledge to help senior management make decisions.

Management accountants need to have excellent analytical and mathematical skills and a strong attention to detail. They also need a deep understanding of business along with the ability to communicate effectively with senior stakeholders.

The average salary across the UK is £43,400. The highest average salary for management accountants can be found (unsurprisingly) in London, at an annual wage of £51,800. The lowest region in the UK is Northern Ireland at £35,700.

If you are looking for an accountancy and finance professional, or seeking a new role yourself, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today.