CISI celebrates global financial services talent with 79 Award winners including professionals, students and career changers

By Lora Benson | Apr 10, 2018

The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) 25th annual awards ceremony celebrates outstanding achievement amongst CISI global students, many of whom will be combining work with study, showing exceptional commitment.100418CISIAwardsGroupPhoto

The ceremony, which is a key highlight in the CISI year, takes place in Mansion House, London where award winners are recognised for their achievements across categories including Islamic finance, capital markets, corporate finance, wealth management, compliance and risk, operations and financial planning.

A new award being given this year is for the Financial Plan Assessment.

Last year more than 40,000 CISI exams were sat in 80 countries and this year winners are from 18 countries including Spain, Lebanon, Malta, Oman, UAE, Belgium, South Africa, Russia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Nigeria.

Those countries represented for the first time this year are Belgium, Hong Kong, Nigeria and Russia

The gender split for award winners this year is 28% female and 72% male (the 2017 gender split for winners was 43% female vs 57% male).

Firms with the highest number of awards were Investec (3), with Brooks Macdonald, Nomura, Schroders and Smith and Williamson Investment Management all with two award winners each.

Waseley Hills High School in Birmingham and West Midlands featured two of its students as award winners: Ben Page and Nicholas Perry for the Fundamentals of Financial Services qualification.

John Preston, CISI’s Chief Operating Officer said: “The talent, skills and commitment demonstrated by our Award winners this year has been truly inspirational. We would like to thank their firms, families, friends, teachers and trainers who together provide a critical community network which has enabled the success of these achievers.”

CISI award winners who attended the Mansion House ceremony from overseas this year included Karl Micallef (Combating Financial Crime) from Malta, Sesantha Pillay (Risk in Financial Services) from South Africa and Andres Enrique Gonzalez De Lara Sarria ACSI (Certificate in Wealth Management, Spain) from Málaga, Spain.

Seven awards were achieved in the Schools, Colleges and Universities category this year. CISI offers AS and A’level equivalent qualifications for 16-19 year olds in full time education and these are modelled on the introductory qualifications as well as more traditional business and economics subjects. This arrangement means that students benefit from the opportunity to participate in work experience and career insight days, plus achieve UCAS points.

Maisy Salsbury, student at Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys inMaisySalsbury Canterbury, Kent, received an award for the Certificate in Finance, Risk and Decision Making. She said: “I was made aware of the CISI qualification at my school and it immediately sparked my interest. I knew that the qualification was a unique opportunity for students. It is a qualification that is widely recognised in industry and compliments my three A’ levels perfectly.

“I feel that CISI has provided me with the best possible grounding for my chosen career in the financial services industry upon leaving school.

“Thanks to CISI and the insight days it introduced me to I have managed to connect with some very influential people working in the financial sectors. This is a real and unique privilege that no other students (outside of CISI) have. It’s a real benefit.

“The events I attended through the CISI qualification inspired me to apply for an internship or apprenticeship, a route I hadn’t ever considered before studying CISI. I’d strongly advise anyone to approach the qualification with an idea that “your potential future is within this course”. This attitude makes the studying required much more enjoyable than usual and will hopefully inspire you for future job opportunities.

“I did not keep my studying for the course narrow, instead I moved away from the specification and tried to incorporate things relevant to the course in many aspects of my life. This included reading the Financial Times and The Economist, following relevant businesses on LinkedIn and reading many books – the most useful I found to be John Lanchester’s ‘How to Speak Money’. This wider knowledge made exam revision much easier as not only did I understand key concepts already, I knew contextualised examples. 

 “After the summer exams I’m looking for an internship or apprenticeship in investment banking. My hope is that this will generate opportunities for me to continue my career in the financial industry.”

Our Foundation qualifications provide a comprehensive introduction to the financialMarieAnneWillans services profession and offer a perfect first step on the road to developing the essential knowledge required for working in financial services. Twenty-five winners received the award in this category for Fundamentals of Financial Services. One winner, Marie-Anne Willans, based in London is looking at the prospect of a career-change, from freelance journalist to possibly working in the financial services profession using her Fundamentals of Financial Services qualification as a test bed to gauge her knowledge for such a career move. She says: “My background is in journalism and copywriting. However I developed an interest in financial services, largely due to the work of my husband, an investment manager. As he has clients in southern Africa as well as the UK I have travelled abroad with him several times, attending client dinners and occasionally meetings.

“I wanted to explore the possibility of working in the sector, having previously studied economics and law, so some of the content is already familiar.

“It may be that, in the future, I will seek out a role that combines my writing/editing skills with newly acquired financial services/investment knowledge. The CISI Level 4 exams seem doable for someone currently working outside the financial services sector.

“The biggest challenge at the moment is fitting studying in alongside work and other commitments. Having passed UK Regulation and Professional Integrity I plan to complete the Investment Advice Diploma.”

Kieran O’Dea, a Retirement Solutions Associate at Fidelity Investments was one ofKieranODea four award winners in the Introduction to Investment: The Foundation qualification category. He said: “My career in finance started following time I had spent doing work experience with a reinsurance firm in London. I decided it would be more beneficial to start a career in finance, gaining on the job experience and working towards relevant qualifications, rather than going to university. I applied for a job within Fidelity's client services team and spent a year learning about the industry, before being given the opportunity to move to the retirement solutions team to specialise in retirement products.

“I decided to study for the IOC because I wanted to develop my understanding of the industry and open the door to further qualifications and future job opportunities.

“I’m currently studying for the third module of the IOC, Pension Administration. I will then look to see which qualification will be best suited to helping make the next step in my career, financial advice.”

The CISI Islamic Finance category of qualifications has been developed to provide financial services professionals with specialist knowledge and expertise in all areas of Islamic finance including Islamic Economics, Islamic Business Ethics, Sharia and Islamic Commercial Jurisprudence, Sukuks, Islamic Insurance (Takaful) and Islamic Corporate Governance. Award winners in this category include Nur Masyitah Binte Borhan of Five Pillars for the Fundamentals of Islamic Banking & Finance and both Vinay Aggarwal of Standard Chartered Bank Dubai and Sive Ozer of Marriott Harrison for the Islamic Finance Qualification.

The CISI Operations qualifications pathway provides professionals with specialistGarySalmon knowledge and expertise to foster strong careers in all areas of investment operations including asset servicing, collective investments, platform services, derivatives, pensions, settlements and securities services. Gary Salmon ACSI of Quilter Cheviot in London achieved his award in Advanced Global Securities Operations. He said: “I started my career back in 2001 aged 16 working for the Nominee department of a stock brokers. Looking at the current climate surrounding the uncertainty over Brexit and the increased technological advances in the industry, I wanted to better position myself in a possibly diluted future market.

“It’s hard working full time and studying, but remember, it’s not forever! I have two daughters, aged one and four, so weekends were impossible as family time was my priority. I had to sacrifice the gym to fit in my study time early mornings. I also had some time in the evenings to study, but it can be difficult to concentrate when the TV is on, so try and find a quiet spot away from distractions.”

Felicity Hooper MCSI of Investec Wealth and Investment based in Dorset achieved two awards: for Global Operations Management and the Diploma in Investment Operations. She said: “The Global Operations Management exam covers a wide range of topics, so it requires a broad industry knowledge. Having this knowledge has improved my understanding of how other areas of the business impact on my role, this gives me confidence and allows me to be more effective.FelicityHooper

“I would advise prospective candidates to put the time in, it is worth it! Don’t just rely on the workbook as the exam requires an ability to analyse and to apply a management perspective to the topics covered. You will need to be aware of the current industry relevant topics, so read relevant publications such as the CISI Review.

“Some aspects of the exams covered topics where I didn’t have practical experience. I found talking to colleagues gave me a good insight into these areas. I also attended training sessions with a CISI training partner, being able to discuss aspects of the material was invaluable.

“Now I’ve completed the Diploma I’m focused on maintaining my knowledge and keeping up to date with industry changes. I find using the CISI professional refreshers really useful in maintaining my CPD, as the courses on offer are relevant and up to date.

“I would definitely recommend CISI qualifications to others as they offer high standard, benchmark qualifications that not only aid in enhancing knowledge but help with career development in the operations area.”

Felicity's exceptional progression through the Operations Qualification Pathway has been recognised and supported in the CISI member magazine The Review over the past few years. She featured in the July 2016 edition as the winner of the Advanced Global Securities Operations level 5 award; she was also on the front cover of The Review's anniversary edition in Q2 April 2017 as an "outstanding young professional" to look out for in 'The future of finance'. This prediction has now proved correct with her outstanding achievement of the highest level award in this pathway.

Eleven award winners were celebrated in the Risk and Compliance category, a key professional area for building public trust and preventing reputational and financial disasters. The skills offered by those specialising in this important area are increasingly in demand in the jobs market. Our compliance and risk qualifications provide the specialist knowledge and expertise to foster a strong career in global financial compliance, financial crime, governance and risk management or regulation and compliance.

Seshantha Pillay of Investec Bank based in South Africa travelled over to the London awards ceremony, having achieved her award for the Risk in Financial Services qualification. She said: “I am new to banking, as a Chartered Accountant and wanted to study something to help me with deepening my knowledge of the financial services industry, hence choosing the International Introduction to Investment module and the Risk in Financial Services Module. Given that I am based in South Africa the international focus of the course appealed as it provided a holistic view of the industry and was not limited to regional issues.SeshanthaPillay

“The foundation that this qualification has provided me has helped me to engage with stakeholders on a more level playing field because I am able to have the right conversations about the pertinent risks in their respective environments.

“I would suggest that if you are prepared to dedicate the time to working through the material the reward will be well worth the effort. There is a level of confidence in knowing that what you are studying is on par with candidates across the globe. The qualification is internationally respected and I think being able to reference this on a resume really does set you apart from the pack.”

CISI’s Corporate Finance/Capital Markets qualifications provide specialist knowledge and expertise for a candidates’ chosen technical discipline from securities, derivatives, financial derivatives, corporate finance transactions, financial markets, bonds and fixed interest markets or fund management. Award winners in this category were Jonathan Mida of Royal Bank of Canada for the Certificate in Corporate Finance, Nicholas Hawkins of Grant Thornton UK for the Diploma in Corporate Finance, Alexander Jones of Merrill Lynch International for the Capital Markets Programme, Ricky Shah for the Financial Derivatives (Diploma) and Sharon Nwankiti MCSI of Nomura International who was Diploma Overall Winner.

The Wealth Management/Financial Planning category marked 11 achievers. CISI wealth management and retail qualifications provide the specialist knowledge and expertise to support a strong career in wealth and investment management, qualifying professionals to advise clients under the UK’s Retail Distribution Review, in addition to other global jurisdictions.


Andrès Gonzalez de Lara Sarria ACSI of Caixabank in Spain attended the event to receive his Certificate in Wealth Management (Spain). He said: “CISI qualifications have allowed me to update my knowledge on important issues as they related to my private banker responsibilities towards my clients and employer. In such a globalized world a CISI diploma qualifies you to the highest professional standard, allowing you to
add an internationally recognized high-quality layer to your CV.”

Nicholas Thompson, Chartered MCSI
of Redmayne Bentley in Leeds achieved his award for the Private Client Investment Advice and Management qualification. He said: “I first started at my current firm as a placement student as part of my sandwich degree, it was a great route into the profession.

“The PCIAM features a very broad syllabus, therefore I acquired a breadth of wealth management knowledge by undertaking this exam. It is often referred to in the examiners report was a “GP’s exam for Wealth Management” and I think that is a very good way to describe it. It equips you with a great knowledge base to move forward with. NicholasThompson

“I completed over 300 hours of private study before the exam and found practicing past papers to be the most effective way of preparing for the exam. I am currently studying for the Level 7 Chartered Wealth Manager qualification which is very well recognised across the professional and the obvious choice after completing PCIAM.” 

William Vaughan MCSI of Brown Shipley in London achieved his award for the overall highest mark achieved in the Chartered Wealth Manager Qualification. He said: “I chose to study for the CISI Chartered Wealth Manager qualification owing to the relevance of the syllabus to my role at Brown Shipley. The application of knowledge learned to practical examples and how the objectives of clients can be best met was what appealed to me most.WilliamVaughan

“My role focuses on portfolio management and the knowledge gained from study for the Chartered Wealth Manager qualification has helped me to become more proficient in my role. My biggest challenges were covering the syllabus and finding the hours in the day to revise but by being organised with my time and the area of syllabus I was going to cover I found that being both structured but also flexible with my study schedule not only made revision management but it ultimately culminated in my success.

“The best thing about the Chartered Wealth Management qualification is that it is a combination of theory and application.”

In the UK award winners were based in the following regions: London, South East, Yorkshire, Bristol and Bath, Southern, South Coast, Liverpool and North Wales, West Country, Essex, Birmingham and West Midlands, Thames Valley, Manchester and District, Northern Ireland, East Midlands and Lincoln, Wales and Scotland.

The Islamic Finance and Operations categories were sponsored by DST Systems, the Risk and Compliance category by FSTP, the Corporate Finance/Capital Market category by Fitch Learning and the Wealth Management/Financial Planning category by Glascow.