Investment Operations Certificate

(CISI Level 3 Certificate in Investment Operations)

The Investment Operations Certificate (IOC) qualification has been developed to enhance the knowledge and skills of staff working in the administration and operations areas of the financial services industry.

This global qualification will provide you with an overview of the financial services industry and will develop your knowledge in subjects which are relevant to the area you work in. It offers great flexibility, as you can choose from a wide selection of units and study at a time and pace convenient to you.  

The IOC is one of our most popular qualifications and is taken in over 60 countries. Completing the IOC demonstrates professionalism and commitment to high standards and offers access to higher-level qualifications and career progression.

Coming soon

Managing Cyber Security (2015)

Register your interest

Key features:
  • Suitable for a wide range of staff – no formal qualifications are required
  • Successfully complete three units to achieve the IOC qualification
  • Choose from a range of units and study subjects which are relevant to your industry and job role
  • Many of the units are internationally focused and the regulatory unit can be based on a local regulatory paper
  • Over 10,000 IOC exams are taken each year in over 60 countries
  • Regulatory approval - features on the FCA’s Appropriate Qualification Table and carries endorsement from the Financial Skills Partnership for the wholesale sector
  • Earn CPD hours upon successful completion of the qualification
  • Free CISI Student membership
  • ACSI designatory letters

Qualification Structure

The IOC is completed by successfully passing any three units from the following categories:

Introductory units

 Introduction to Securities and Investment
 International Introduction to Securities and Investment

Regulatory units

 UK Financial Regulation
 Local regulatory paper *

* Any regulatory exam supported by a national regulator will be
accepted by the CISI as the regulatory component

Unit selection depends on individual circumstances but generally candidates are either:
  • Working for a firm which is regulated by the FCA. These candidates are advised to take the following units:
    • Introduction to Securities & Investment
    • UK Financial Regulation
    • a technical unit relevant to the role

  • Working for firms, particularly those based internationally, which are not authorised and regulated by the FCA. These candidates may, if their firm agrees, select any three units.


This Certificate is regulated by Ofqual as a level 3 qualification. On the European Qualifications Framework, this equates to a level 4 qualification.


Candidates with appropriate examinations may apply for exemption from one unit, either:

UK Financial Regulation or Introduction to Securities and Investment

Exemption from the technical exam (stage 3) is not permitted.

Candidates seeking exemption must offer a qualification which was obtained after 1 December 2001.

The following are accepted for exemption from UK Financial Regulation.

Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)
  • Financial Planning Certificate (FPC) – Unit 1 (FPC1)
  • Certificate in Financial Planning (CF) – Unit 1 (CF1)
  • Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning – Unit 1 (RO1)
IFS School of Finance
  • Certificate for Financial Advisers (CeFA) – Module 1 (CeFA1)
  • Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP) – Unit 1 (CeMAP1)
  • Investment Management Certificate (IMC) – either Level 3 or Level 4 (full IMC or Paper 1)

Exemption from Introduction to Securities and Investment -
all the units above are accepted as are the following:

Academic Qualifications
  • MSc/MA awards with financial content (eg MSc Finance, MSc Investment Management) will be considered.
Professional Qualifications
  • ACA
  • ACCA
  • CIMA
  • ICAS
  • CIIA
Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Special arrangements exist. Contact

There are a number of other qualifications that are acceptable and appear in the FCA tables for operations roles. If you are in doubt, please contact  A very limited number of qualifications enable a candidate to gain exemption from two IOC units, relating solely to Pensions and Life Policy Administration. To Apply Download the IOC exemption form. Exemption from the IOC exams costs £50.

Study Options

Self-study using the CISI's learning manuals and elearning for:

Please note: The CISI's mandatory learning manual policy requires, where available, the most up to date CISI learning manual to be purchased when booking an exam, including by an ATP on your behalf. This applies to all candidates sitting CISI exams in the UK (includes Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Man). Candidates sitting CISI exams outside of the UK will receive the most up-to-date workbook in PDF format for that subject and this is included in the international exam price.

Accredited Training Providers
The CISI accredits a wide range of training providers to deliver formal training for our exams and you can register directly with the provider of your choice.

Find an Accredited Training Provider (ATP) near you

Sample papers and exam questions are available for:

Register and Book

Register with the CISI
New candidates intending to take CISI qualifications need to first register with the CISI. Upon registering, you will receive a candidate number, password and access to the CISI's online systems.

Book your exams
Candidates can book:

Register for your qualification
After booking your exams you need to register for your qualification. Please be sure you have read and understood the exam regulations and policies.

The latest prices for exams are listed on the online price list.

Post Qualification Opportunities

Obtaining the IOC qualification entitles candidates to join the Institute at Associate level. As a member of the Institute, you will enjoy the recognition of being a professional in a world of increasing competition. The extensive continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities available through the CISI’s suite of membership benefits ensures financial services practitioners can maintain competence and meet the requirements of firms and the regulator.

IOC+ (Extended Certificate in Investment Operations)
Complete a fourth IOC unit and you can achieve a further qualification, the IOC+. This is an alternative study option for professionals who may wish to demonstrate knowledge of a new technical discipline, but who may not want to embark on a qualification requiring a longer study commitment.

Higher Level Qualifications
To further theoretical and practical knowledge upon completion of the IOC, higher level qualifications to take include:

UK qualifications levels 3 4
Investment Operations Certificate (IOC) Managing Operational Risk in Financial Institutions
  Diploma in Operational Risk *
EU qualifications levels 4 5
Advanced Certificate in Operational Risk
Advanced Certificate in Global Securities Operations
Diploma in Investment Operations

* Diploma in Operational Risk

Diploma in Operational Risk = Operational Risk (IOC) + Managing Operational Risk in Financial Institutions + Advanced Operational Risk