The Investment Operations Certificate (IOC)
“The Investment Operations Certificate (IOC), also known as IAQ, is best known as a regulatory benchmark exam for staff in the operations sector of the financial markets. ”
The Investment Operations Certificate (IOC), also known as IAQ, is best known as a regulatory benchmark exam for staff in the operations sector of the financial markets. Although it has been taken by delegates for over two decades, its regulatory status alone does not fully explain why it currently attracts over 10,000 UK and international delegates per year. So what makes the IOC such a great entry level qualification for the financial services industry?
IOC is an open entry qualification comprising three exam units, with most delegates sitting:
• Introduction to Securities & Investment
• A regulatory paper (from a choice of two)
• A technical paper (from a choice of 11)
Introduction to Securities & Investment provides a great overview of the financial services industry. It introduces major wholesale and retail market players, features of the main types of investments and the markets where they are traded. The syllabus also has a separate focus on retail products and the taxation of individuals, and pulls the various syllabus elements together with a brief look at the bigger picture via macro economics. So overall, a great overview of the world of finance!
The regulatory unit covers financial regulation in a MiFID environment, plus the regulations and legislation that govern the conduct of investment business. Regulation affects everybody in the industry (so everybody in the industry should be aware of regulations).
Finally, a technical unit is added that either complements the day-to-day role of the delegate or satisfies a particular area of interest. Either way, the technical unit completes the IOC qualification by giving a detailed picture of a particular industry sector.
So for a good number of delegates IOC represents a regulatory hurdle. However, the excellent overview the qualification provides and, more recently, the opportunity to replace the introductory and regulatory units with international papers, has increasingly led to its wider use as an:
• awareness programme for new staff;
• update tool or competency piece for seasoned practitioners; and
• introduction to financial markets for individuals seeking a solid grounding in finance.
As noted by the CISI, completing the IOC demonstrates professionalism and commitment to high standards. It is also an FSA Appropriate Examinations, accredited by Ofqual
as a level 3 qualification and carries FSSC endorsement for the wholesale sector – and all in only five days of structured tuition.
This article was prepared by Jeremy Smith, Head of UK Benchmark Examinations at Kaplan Financial. Kaplan Financial offers courses in Financial Training and study materials, including online support, towards the Investment Operations Certificate (IOC). IOC courses are available in London and Edinburgh. More information about the IOC course
and other study materials, visit http://financial.kaplan.co.uk/TrainingandQuals/Financialservices/IOC/Pages/default.aspx
Author - Lynsey Calver
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