Students at the awards ceremony, held on 19 March 2019, were recognised for their achievements across categories including Islamic Finance, Operations, Risk and Compliance, Corporate Finance/Capital Markets, and Wealth Management/Financial Planning.
In 2018, more than 40,000 CISI exams were taken in 80 countries. Those countries included, for the first time, Botswana, Egypt, Mauritius and Tunisia.
The gender split for award winners this year is 38% female and 62% male (the 2018 gender split was 28% female and 72% male).
Firms with the highest number of awards are Barclays (4), and Brewin Dolphin (3). The following firms have two awards each: Caja Rural de Navarra, Spain; Emirates EAD Egypt, RPMI; Schroder & Co; and University Santo Tomas, Philippines.
The UK regions with the highest number of winners are London (23) and Scotland (7). The following regions had two winners each: Birmingham; Bristol and Bath;North East; Northern Ireland;South East; Southern; and Thames Valley. East Anglia; Essex; Manchester; South Coast; and Yorkshire had a winner each.
Susan Clements, CISI global director of learning, said: “We are delighted to celebrate the achievements of our 68 award winners. Their awards are testament to their hard work and commitment to learning and also to the support of their community of family, friends and firms on their self-development journey. We wish them every success in the next phase of their careers.”
Pedro Real de Asúa Guinea, an investment strategist with Caixabank, is winner of the level 3 Certificate in Wealth Management. He travelled from Navarra, Spain to attend the awards evening.
Schools, colleges and universities
He said: “The certification has allowed me to complete and reinforce the knowledge necessary for the development of my work as an investment strategist. One of the main keys to my exam success was setting a study schedule broad enough so that I didn’t have to cram when the test date was approaching.” One of the challenges he encountered was balancing his study time with "an intense working day and family life".
Pedro commended his employer’s online training platform and its emphasis on quality investment strategy when advising clients, and the opportunities for professional growth provided by Caixabank.
We work with 40 schools and colleges across the UK, offering level 2 and level 3 qualifications for 16–19-year-olds in full-time education. They are modelled on the introductory qualifications as well as more traditional business and economic subjects. Students also benefit from the opportunities presented to them via career insight days and CISI student membership. We also partner with universities to offer their finance students the opportunity to sit CISI exams alongside their core modules, providing them with a competitive edge when they graduate.
This year we handed out six awards in the 'Schools, colleges and universities' category. The University of Ulster produced two achievers: Simon Watterson for top marks in the level 3 Introduction to Investment
and Luke Mulligan
for achieving Top Performing Undergraduate in the Educational Trust Awards 2018/19.
The youngest achiever in the schools, colleges and universities category is Mason Humphris-Day, aged 18, of Coopers School, a mixed secondary comprehensive in Bromley, who achieved top marks in his level 3 Certificate in Finance, Risk & Decision Making.
He said: “I was making my choices for A-levels and saw this opportunity to take an exam that will enable me to achieve a recognised qualification. I knew this would stand out in the financial services sector more than an A-level in a different subject. The majority of the course content was covered during school and we had four lessons a week spanning 1 hour and 15 minutes. I revised and did my exam practise independently. I made revision notes that summarised each topic and made flashcards to help me remember the facts and figures. I went through every past paper and saw how to pick up marks in the 45-marker, as this comprises over half the marks in the exam.”
Other winners in the full-time education category include Akshat Vyas of ICMA Centre, University of Reading for the CISI Education Trust 2018/2019 Top Performing Postgraduate and Raphael Mizrahi of City of London School for Boys for the level 3 Introduction to Securities & Investment.
Maisy Salsbury of Simon Langton Grammar School made her second appearance in this category, following her achievement in 2018 for the level 3 Certificate in Finance, Risk & Decision Making. She achieved top marks this year for her level 3 Diploma in Finance, Risk & Investment. Maisy is currently working as a client account management intern at JP Morgan Asset Management.
Foundation qualificationsOur foundation qualifications provide a comprehensive introduction to the financial services professions and are an important first step in developing the essential knowledge required for working in financial services. Keolebogile Kgololo is our first ever award winner from Botswana – he won the level 3 International Introduction to Investment Award. He said: “I am a mechanical engineering graduate and I wanted to work in the financial services sector, especially in corporate finance. I chose CISI qualifications as they were designed by sector experts, making them more practical and applicable, and also because they are recognised globally and in Africa. My advice for students is to allocate their time and to know what is happening in the financial services sector around the world by reading magazines and newspapers such as Bloomberg and the Financial Times. Reading The Review is also a great benefit to staying informed.”
Edwin Davies, a risk and controls associate at Aberdeen Asset Management, picked up an award for Introduction to Investment: The Foundation Qualification
, level 3.
He said: “I was encouraged to take the exams by my managers and knew from friends at my company and elsewhere in the sector that it had helped further their careers. I wanted a deeper understanding of the sector and the knowledge to have more of an input in our day-to-day operations. I self-studied for the level 3 Introduction to Securities exam. The biggest challenge for me was getting back into the routine of studying for a formal exam, as it had been a few years since I last sat one, and structuring my revision without guidance. I found it easiest to plan out and build study time around my daily working schedule and treat revising as an extension of my job. I found running regularly was useful in breaking up the long days of working and studying and staying focused.”
Julie Hedley, Chartered MCSI, senior operations risk manager with Brewin Dolphin, achieved her award in Global Operations Management, level 6.
She said: “I wanted to study for a globally recognised sector qualification in operations, which provided flexibility to fit around my job and private life. My advice would be to plan your study time, don’t underestimate how much studying you need to do. Ensure you study each week to keep the momentum going, make the best use of travel time to and from work to fit in as much study as possible, and dedicate the month before the exam to focus on answering exam questions. Also practice handwriting, as writing for three hours is a long time when you are not used to it.”
Risk and compliance
Danielle Waterman MCSI of RPMI achieved awards in both Regulation and Compliance, level 6; and the level 6 Diploma in Investment Compliance
Danielle said: “Time management and dedication to my studies were key to my success in these exams. I also attended a Fitch learning study course for the Regulation and Compliance exam which was extremely useful. As part of the course I completed a mock examination which made me more familiar with the exam structure and time restraints. I now sit on exam boards for two of the CISI compliance exams as an external specialist.”
Capital markets and corporate finance
Our Capital Markets and Corporate Finance qualifications provide specialist knowledge and expertise to foster a strong career in these technical disciplines.
Zoë Nateras, a Corporate Finance Manager at KPMG achieved the level 6 Diploma in Corporate Finance
. She said: "The qualification gave a broad coverage of most topics touched upon in the early stages of a corporate finance career. The difficulty was fitting studying in with work. I learnt that I had to sacrifice my weekends, as in the week there was no time to study. You need to be determined and also be realistic that you will not be able to learn every single item in the book. The best thing I did was exam practice alongside book study – this helps you identify the most important areas. Exercise helped me clear my head from work/study – whether that’s going for a run outside or powerlifting! Also it’s important to continue normal life, going out with friends.”
Wealth management and financial planning
Alex Waddington, Chartered MCSI, of Smith & Williamson Investment Management; and Stuart Robinson, Chartered MCSI, of Royal Bank of Scotland, were amongst the achievers in this category.
Alex said: “I took the CISI Chartered Wealth Manager exams in order to obtain my level 7 qualification. This allows me to progress at work as it is required by Smith & Williamson in order to practice investment management. It also helps to give us credibility with our clients and professional network, given the CISI exams are known around the world and signify an individual’s ability to provide up-to-date knowledge as well as practising the CISI’s ethics. My advice to candidates is that they need to be disciplined about allocating the appropriate amount of time to the exams. I strongly believe that by allocating part of each day to this I was able to stay on top of the workload.
“I tried to get in at about 7.15am each morning and was able to devote about an hour and 15 minutes each morning to studying. On top of this, I would try to fit in half an hour in the evenings, but found I was far more productive in the mornings. This meant that I rarely had to do any work over the weekend until the last couple of weeks. I would suggest that candidates find a routine that works for them and stick to it.
“The CISI has a fantastic reputation across the market and is one of the very few exam bodies to have a truly global footprint, giving candidates the flexibility and credibility that few can offer.”
Stuart, a wealth manager with Royal Bank of Scotland, is the first to receive the new level 6 Certificate in Pension Transfers and Planning Advice
He said: “While I already have relevant pensions examinations, these were taken over 15 years ago. With all the changes in pensions legislation I felt that I needed to challenge myself to stay up to date with advice standards. I decided to undertake self-study, the main challenge being that I left things a bit late because, as always, life finds a way of getting in the way! When I took this exam there was only one past paper, so that was tricky. My sector experience and existing knowledge helped. Following the exam success I was invited to join the CISI Pension Transfer and Planning Advice Exam Panel, which I believe is a real mark of professional standing and has been an enjoyable experience.”