Pioneering Qualifications for a Financial Career

The financial services sector, like many other industries, has literally shrunk in terms of access within the global arena. E-Commerce rules, and the development in information technology is accelerating at an awe-inspiring rate. Realizing that the career development of graduates within the financial sector may depend on applied knowledge of this dynamic method of transacting business, the Institute of Financial Services, being one of the foremost professional financial sector bodies in the world, has introduced a Master's in E-Commerce (MA).

The MA has been developed by the Institute of Financial Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Chartered Institute of Bankers, in collaboration with Canterbury Business School, a Department of the University of Kent at Canterbury. The MA is a pioneering management qualification and will put students at the forefront of developing tomorrow's business models. The MA is a rigorous programme that not only explores the emerging theories surrounding e-enterprise management, but also illustrates these theories through case studies based on many technologically-advanced and innovative enterprises.

Delivery of the course will be primarily on-line, augmented by a number of face-to-face events. There will be opportunities for students to discuss and explore issues with fellow students via email chat rooms, and tutor support will be available over the phone. An induction weekend is required at the start of the course, plus workshops and a residential school. All students registering for the course will automatically be given a complimentary subscription to the Institute's E-Commerce and Technology Faculty during their period of study.

For those graduates considering a career in financial services, the reality of job opportunities is not very different to many other professions and industries, as technology, downsizing, mergers, takeovers and competition have all had a dramatic effect on staff numbers. It is important to understand that jobs are no longer for life, whatever career you choose! However, the major employers do realize the importance of 'graduateness' and what graduates can bring to an organization with regard to their learning experience, fresh ideas and initiatives. Indeed, at least one major financial services organization in the UK employs graduates regardless of degree discipline, as they feel the very fact that they are a graduate enables their personal development to progress in tandem with company goals.

With established worldwide recognition of the Institute, a strong basis was in place from which to develop a complete range of examinations and services for the 21st century. For example, the image of the traditional 'banker' is no longer appropriate in this day and age, and the marketplace no longer wants or would accept just a professional banking qualification. Therefore, in 1997, the Institute's Associateship examinations were linked with a BSc (Hons) in Financial Services awarded by UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology), giving the added portability of a degree with a professional qualification. This enabled members of the Institute to gain 'graduateness' and provide them with the skills to conceptualize. The BSc (Hons) in Financial Services and Associateship, as it is known, can either be studied at approved Academic Centres or by distance learning courses provided by the Institute, where students are allocated their own personal tutor. Students are studying throughout the world, as the use of technology enables the students and tutors to be in almost instant communication wherever they are.

The Institute of Financial Services offers various other qualifications. These range from:

  • Certificate for Financial Advisers (CeFA) - a regulatory benchmark qualification approved by the UK Financial Services Authority regulators;
  • Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP) - a ground breaking mortgage-related examination that is setting the standards for an as-yet unregulated market;
  • Certified Documentary Credit Specialist examinations developed in collaboration with the International Financial Services Association and endorsed by International Chamber of Commerce (ICC);
  • Credit Card Management examinations developed in collaboration with VISA International;
  • Certificate in the Marketing of Financial Services and the Diploma in the Marketing of Financial Services - specialized marketing qualifications developed in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

The Institute has been reorganized with a new faculty structure designed to make it more responsive to the needs of its customers and members. In addition to the E-Commerce and Technology Faculty, the new structure also includes the Regulatory and Retail Faculty and the Banking and Finance Faculty. The latter aims to provide education and on-going learning for all those operating as financial and mortgage advisers, as well as those armies of people performing key customer-facing functions in the front office or through call centres. There is also a special competency programme for financial and mortgage advisers, the Institute of Financial Services Register.

In addition to offering a wide range of qualifications, encompassing financial services management, marketing, and specialist qualifications such as documentary credits, the Banking and Finance Faculty aims to support individuals throughout their careers. It offers a range of complimentary products and services, including a career management service, Internet-based learning, executive training programmes and a quarterly publication.

Set in the heart of the City of London, still regarded by many as the financial capital of the world, is the Institute's library, one of the most comprehensive libraries specializing in financial services in the UK. A 'virtual' library service is also available via the Internet. The Institute is a major publisher of financial service books and allied material, ranging from award-winning magazines to dedicated study texts for the examinations.

The Institute has helped to establish and encourage many 'sister' institutes of bankers throughout the world. Recently the Institute of Bankers in Eastern Europe has been established, and has asked The Chartered Institute of Bankers, the parent body of the Institute of Financial Services, for assistance in moderation of examinations to ensure that the correct procedures and standards are put in place. The Institute of Bankers of Sri lanka is significantly enhancing the international recognition of its qualifications by having a range of banking and finance qualifications accredited by The Chartered Institute of Bankers.

For more information about the Institute and the services it offers, visit the Institute's web-site on, call the customer services team on 01227 818609, or e-mail [email protected].

With thanks to: Sarah Southon, The Institute of Financial Services


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