CISI Educational Trust sponsored project – Liverpool

September 2017 marks the start of the fifth academic year that the CISI Educational Trust has sponsored an educational programme in Liverpool, and the success of the programme goes from strength to strength
by Anne Chisholm, CISI regional education development liaison executive


Academic year 2014–2015: speed networking; 2015–2016: presentation by Brian Sloan, deputy agent for north west at the Bank of England; 2016–2017: students presenting to the panel in a ‘Liver Bird’s Den’ activity

The CISI Educational Trust sponsors a teacher to deliver lessons to students from schools across the city, who come together for weekly classes, held in a local school. The teacher also gives monthly lessons on participating firm’s premises, with input from local practitioners.

Students study for the CISI’s Certificate for Introduction to Securities & Investment for schools and colleges over two years, in addition to their core A levels. In the first year (Year 12, Lower Sixth, 16–17-year-olds) they study towards an exam on financial products, markets and services and in the second year (Year 13, Upper Sixth, 17–19-years-old) they complete an extended project, 3,000–4,000 words on a title from a list provided by the CISI. The qualification is at level 3, is the official equivalent to an AS level and comes with up to 24 UCAS points. Successful students can apply for an exemption to the professional Introduction to Investment qualification, an introductory module of the Investment Operations Certificate.

The number of students participating in the programme has increased year on year, as has the pass rate. In the first year of the programme, 14 students completed the course; in the second, 15; third, 18, and for the academic year 2016–2017, 32 students from schools across the city completed the course, with a pass rate of 83% in financial products, markets & services and 100% in the extended project and completion of the certificate.

The CISI’s recent registration event for the 2017–2018 academic year saw 66 students in attendance, 55 of whom applied for a place. The number of available places was increased from 25 to 30 to help meet the growing demand and accommodate more students. As there are also 21 students taking the second year of the course, this means that the programme has 51 students taking part this year. Lessons began on 27 September.  

The unique element of the Liverpool scheme is the high level of involvement from local practitioners – a benchmark for other CISI branches to aspire to.

Background of the project

Jon Walker, Chartered FCSI, investment director for Investec Wealth & Investment in Liverpool (pictured right), was instrumental in setting up the programme in 2013 when he was president of the CISI Liverpool branch.

He said: “The original idea was for local firms to get more involved in the Liverpool schools to raise awareness of both the sector and the CISI.

"Our region is one of the most active in wealth management in the UK and many people are employed locally in firms such as Rathbones, Investec and Tilney. Qualified staff at a number of these large firms have been willing to give up time to help give something back to the local community. As well as the firms and the members, the local city council got behind the project and offered support.

"Our objective was to give young people in our area the chance to study for a CISI qualification which they would be able to use for entry to the workplace or in further studies.

"With help from the CISI Educational Trust, a teaching post was funded and we recruited a teaching professional to deliver the topic to sixth form students. We then offered presentations across the city to raise awareness of the qualifications and the CISI.

"The CISI Liverpool & North Wales committee offered up office space to host the sessions on a weekly basis, although the student uptake is much larger now, so most lessons take place in schools. Each week a subject matter expert working within one of the local firms attended the session to offer the teacher support and to share their expertise with the students (now monthly).

"We are now starting to see some of the students join the local firms in apprenticeship roles or applying for positions post university."Practitioner involvement

Local practitioners have embraced the initiative, lending their expertise not only to groups of students at schools and in the workplace, but also participating in a mentoring scheme for more individualised guidance.

Students taking the extended project in Year 2 of the course are all allocated a practitioner mentor based on their chosen CISI subject. There were so many volunteers from last year that each student had two mentors! And for this academic year, we already have enough mentors to support the biggest second-year group we have ever had.

All participating students are also offered the opportunity to apply for a three-day work experience place and are guaranteed a place on a two-day Careers Insight Conference each year in the same week in July. There were 28 work experience places available in Liverpool in July 2017, and 50 students attended the two-day conference at Rathbones in the Port of Liverpool Building, which was also open to other CISI students within the wider Merseyside area.

Phil Kirwan, Chartered MCSI, investment manager at Blankstone Sington, has been directly involved in all aspects of student/practitioner engagement this year.

He said: Assisting the teacher is a fantastic way for us to interact with the students and present practical applications of the theory they are learning. As part of our CPD obligations, the CISI mentoring sessions offer a unique way of developing our skills as well as the satisfaction that goes with being able to pass our skills on to the next generation of investment professionals. Students have the opportunity to engage with their mentors, and some of the questions have been extremely thought-provoking. All of the students that have come to us on work experience in the past couple of years have been enthusiastic and engaging, and we have received positive feedback.”

The practitioner offer to students is arranged with representatives from the local firms by the CISI Liverpool, Chester & North Wales Committee’s current education secretary, Robert Shutt MCSI, senior manager in operations at Investec Wealth & Investment. Anne Chisholm, CISI regional education development liaison executive, oversees coordination of the programme, liaison with the firms, schools and students, event organisation and logistics.

The core firms who all provide lesson support, mentoring, work experience and speakers/networking for the conference are: Blankstone Sington; Investec Wealth & Investment; Pershing, a BNY Mellon company; Rathbone Investment Management and Tilney. Other programme supporters include Cenkos Securities, Mercer, Pavis Financial Management and Quilter Cheviot.

Doing our bit for the next generation

James Charlton, Chartered FCSI, investment manager at Tilney Investment Management Services, and current president of the CISI Liverpool, Chester & North Wales Committee, explained why firms want to get involved.

He said: "The wealth management sector has strong roots in the region and in particular the City of Liverpool. Rathbones can trace its origins back to 1742 and, along with Tilney which was founded in 1836, and Rensburgs (now Investec) established in 1873, this triumvirate laid the foundation that ensured Liverpool’s strength in the wealth management sector.

"Today Liverpool is home to some of the most talented wealth and investment professionals in the country and we are delighted to be doing our bit to nurture the next generation.

"Since 2013, the Institute has invested heavily in the region’s education programme. The committee works tirelessly to help develop our outstanding talent pool, but it cannot, and does not, succeed by operating in isolation. Thankfully, we have an incredible network of volunteers and supporters who are passionate about the education and development of young talent.

"We have seen results improve year-on-year and there is a positive correlation between grades and levels of practitioner engagement.

"After just four years, we have begun to see students graduate from the programme, move into practice, and mature into promising young professionals, with a lot to offer their sector and indeed the Institute. We maintain close links with former students and many now volunteer at our annual Investment Management Insight Conference, which students cite as a key experience that helps to differentiate them from the competition when applying for jobs, university places or apprenticeships."

Benefits of the programmeThe practitioners involved have the opportunity for their own self-development in public speaking, coaching and networking as well as contributing to the development of others and the community, and the hours they put in are rewarded by CPD.

The local financial services community also benefits by a boost to the recruitment pool, with firms looking to recruit from the successful students and keeping in touch with them as they go through university for graduate recruitment purposes.

Paul Loughlin, Chartered MCSI, deputy chief operations officer at Rathbone Brother in Liverpool, explains the impact that the programme is having on the sector locally:

"The quality of investment management services, and financial services more generally, is dependent on the quality of people delivering the service. As businesses grow and stakeholder expectation changes (ie, increases) it is important that firms supplement the existing pool of talent with intelligent, capable individuals who have a real interest in, and an appetite for, delivering a high-quality service.

"Given financial services does not have the lustre that some other sectors do, and investment management specifically is not particularly high profile or well understood, the CISI Liverpool programme has been a huge fillip for the sector, enabling young people to be exposed to the myriad of opportunities available.

"Because of this, as well as our own apprenticeship programme, we are now seeing more young people apply for roles within the sector rather than go to university and, most impressively, we are seeing young people who are already armed with relevant qualifications, meaning that the quality levels of new recruits is increasing as a result."

A word from the teacher

Lessons are delivered by Joanne Welsh, business studies teacher at Archbishop Beck Catholic Sports College in north Liverpool, either at the school, at firms’ premises or at another host school in the south of the city – King David High School. Joanne is an experienced teacher who is now into her fifth year of teaching CISI qualifications. Her expertise shows in the excellent programme results, although she always strives for better.

Joanne said: "The CISI has in place an excellent support network and this has been instrumental in the success of the Liverpool programme.

"Anne Chisholm has played an integral role in the growth of this programme. As a result of her involvement and support, the number of schools involved is increasing each year. Matthew Bolton, CISI’s teaching & learning specialist, has provided PowerPoint presentations, accompanied by worksheets and regular assessment materials, which are available on the CISI teacher portal and which never need supplementing. As any teacher will tell you, resources like this are well received and greatly appreciated! Finally, the Liverpool CISI Committee has shown a commitment that goes above and beyond. Over the past four years, Jon Walker, James Charlton and Rob Shutt have organised many guest speakers, who not only cover theory as outlined in the specification, but also explain to students how they entered the profession. They are also happy to answer questions about their job, which provides further insight into the sector.

"Students are determined to enter the financial services sector due to the increasing number of apprenticeships that are being offered. They feel a job in the industry is accessible and that is what a programme like this is all about: giving students opportunities. I’m pleased to be part of such a supportive team and look forward to seeing many of our students returning as guest speakers. This year, we had the privilege of seeing one of our past students attending the Insight event as a judge for current student’s presentations."

As well as students from Archbishop Beck Catholic Sports College, eight other schools sent students to participate in the programme: Calderstones School; Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School; The King David High School; St Francis Xavier’s College; St Hilda’s Church of England High School; Studio@Deyes and The Belvedere Academy. As this programme is funded by the CISI Educational Trust, schools do not pay for students to participate.

And from participating students

Andrew Muguluma from King David High School has just completed his first year of the qualification.

He said: "The CISI qualification has given me a valuable insight into the financial workplace and has helped me decide and refine my future pathways. Not only did I learn about aspects of finance which helped further my knowledge in economics but it also gave me the opportunity to gain extremely meaningful work experience at Pershing – I was exposed to some of the roles and responsibilities, which have been invaluable in helping me to apply and contextualise what I learn in lessons."

Having left school in July 2017, Haris Ellahi is about to start a new apprenticeship.

He said: "To say that the CISI course has been a great help would be an understatement. The work strengthened my desire to pursue a career in the sector. Experience at Investec and Quilter Cheviot gave me an insight into the sector that my school did not offer. The Careers Insight Conference also helped to build my networking abilities, which helped me to secure a position as an investment operations analyst on the apprentice programme with Mercer. Taking up the opportunity to study the course has been one of the best decisions I have made."

James Bartels, a former student, is just about to complete his first year as an asset transformation apprentice with True Wealth Planning Solutions in Leeds

He said: "Without the CISI course and the work of the teacher and everyone else from the sector who assisted in the classes, work experience and annual conference, I can quite confidently say that I would not be in the position of having an apprenticeship I enjoy and the foundation for a future career in the financial sector."

Rachel Bailey, one of the first students to successfully complete the two-year Liverpool programme back in 2015, is taking a four-year economics major, with a minor in creative writing & English, at the University of Chicago, completing in June 2019. Rachel told us that having the CISI diploma on her CV gave her a competitive advantage when applying for the place. She credits completion of her diploma with her ability to answer some of the entrance interview questions.

Do you want to get involved?

Would you, your firm, or your local Committee be interested in finding out more about how you can become involved in educating the professionals of the future and your potential future workforce?
Get in touch with the CISI Education Development Team at or call 020 7645 0714

Published: 29 Sep 2017
  • Features
  • Insight
  • Educational Trust
  • CISI Liverpool

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