Pathways to banking: improving access for students from non-privileged backgrounds

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Boston Consulting Group
Sutton Trust
Date of publication
28 January 2014
Employment, Education and Skills
Social welfare
Material type

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The financial services sector is a vital and vibrant part of our national economy but it recruits from a small and relatively privileged segment of society. This report, which summarises research from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), shows for the first time the extent of the challenge of improving access to careers in the sector for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Over a third of all entrants into the sector were educated at independent schools which make up just 7% of the country’s schools. At senior levels, the picture is even more skewed: 60% of leaders in financial services were educated privately, and a significant proportion are Oxbridge graduates (highlighting again the importance of access to elite universities). The picture in banking in particular is slightly more balanced. But even here over half of all leaders went to independent schools.

The BCG study estimates that in the UK 30-40% of those earning over £120,000 a year work in financial services. Consequently, talented youngsters from low and middle income backgrounds find it difficult to access one of the main routes to a high-income career. And the situation isn’t getting any better: the educational backgrounds of the youngest and oldest in the sector are remarkably similar and show the same preponderance of those educated at independent schools and elite universities.

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