The CISI 26th annual awards ceremony celebrates outstanding achievement amongst 68 Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) global finance students, demonstrating personal dedication and focus while combining work with study.
The awards ceremony takes place at Mansion House, London and award winners are recognised for their achievements across categories, including Islamic Finance, Operations, Risk and Compliance, Corporate Finance/Capital Markets, and Wealth Management/Financial Planning.
Last year more than 40,000 CISI exams were taken in 80 countries and those countries represented for the first time include 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 were Barclays (4), Brewin Dolphin (3), with Caja Rural de Navarra, Spain, Emirates EAD Egypt, RPMI Ltd, Schroder & Co Limited and University Santo Tomas, Philippines all had two awards won each.
The UK regions with the highest number of winners are London (23), Scotland (7), Birmingham, Bristol and Bath, North East, Northern Ireland, South East, Southern and Thames Valley, each had two winners. 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 (left), an Investment Strategist with Caixabank, attended the CISI awards evening travelling from Madrid, Spain achieving top marks in the CISI Certificate in Wealth Management. 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 you don’t have to cram when the test date approaches.” 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. His challenges during his study included: “Being able to combine the preparation of the exam with an intense working day and family life.”
Six awards were achieved in the schools, colleges and universities category this year and CISI offers 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. The CISI currently works with 40 schools and colleges across the UK where students also benefit from the opportunities presented to them via career insight days and CISI student membership. CISI also partners 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.
The University of Ulster produced two achievers in distinct categories: Simon Watterson for top marks in the Introduction to Investment and Luke Mulligan for achieving Top Performing Undergraduate in the Educational Trust Awards 2018/19.
The youngest achiever in this schools, colleges and universities category was Mason Humphris-Day (right) aged 18, of Coopers School, a mixed secondary comprehensive in Bromley, who achieved top marks in his 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 an industry recognised qualification. I knew this would stand out in the financial industry 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 Certificate for Introduction to Securities & Investment.
Maisy Salsbury of Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys made her second appearance in this category, following her achievement last year for the Certificate in Finance, Risk & Decision Making. She achieved top marks this year in her Diploma in Finance, Risk & Investment. Maisy is currently working as a Client Account Management Intern at JP Morgan Asset Management.
CISI’s foundation qualifications provide a comprehensive introduction to the financial services profession and are an important first step in developing the essential knowledge required for working in financial services. In this respect Keolebogile Kgololo is CISI’s first ever award winner from Botswana. He said: “I am a Mechanical Engineering graduate and I wanted to work in the financial services profession especially in Corporate Finance. I chose CISI qualifications as they were designed by industry experts, making them more practical and applicable and also because they are recognised globally and in Africa. My advice for students is to allocate your time and to know what is happening in the financial services profession around the world by reading magazines and newspapers such as Bloomberg and the Financial Times. Reading the CISI magazine is a great benefit to staying informed.”
Edwin Davies (right), a Risk and Controls Associate at Aberdeen Asset Management
picked up an award for his CISI Introduction to Investment: The Foundation Qualification. He said: “I was encouraged to take the exams by my managers and knew from friends at my company and elsewhere in the industry that it had helped further their careers. I wanted a deeper understanding of the industry and the knowledge to have more of an input in our day-to-day operations. I studied for the Introduction to Securities exam via self-study. The biggest challenges for me were firstly getting back into the routine of studying for a formal exam, as it had been a few years since I last sat one and secondly 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.”
The CISI’s Operations qualifications pathway is designed to provide professionals with specialist knowledge and expertise to foster strong careers in all areas of investment operations. Ewa Kurkowska achieved highest marks in the Investment Operations Certificate (IOC). Ewa is a senior business analyst with Sygnita SA in Poland. Her desire to learn English terms related to capital markets prompted her to study the CISI IOC. She said: “I’m a big fan of self-study and the workbook contained all the necessary material to pass the exam. I dream about early retirement but it’s quite possible that I will be taking other qualifications because I’m addicted to learning.” In order to balance her work and study with relaxation, Ewa is passionate about growing and propagating exotic plants.
Julie Hedley (left) Chartered MCSI, Senior Operations Risk Manager with Brewin Dolphin achieved her award in Global Operations Management. She said: “I wanted to study for a globally recognised industry 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.”
In the CISI Risk and Compliance category of qualifications, Danielle Waterman (below) MCSI of RPMI achieved awards in both Regulation and Compliance and the Diploma in Investment Compliance. Danielle said: “Time management and dedication to my studies was 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 was extremely useful as it 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.”
The CISI Corporate Finance and Capital Markets qualifications provide specialist knowledge and expertise to foster a strong career in these technical disciplines. Zoë Nateras (right), a Corporate Finance Manager at KPMG achieved the Diploma in Corporate Finance in this category. She said: “The qualification gave a broad coverage of most topics touched upon in the early stages of a Corporate Finance career. The difficulties were fitting studying in with work. I learnt that really I had to sacrifice my weekends completely 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. Best thing I did was just exam practice alongside book study – this helps you identify the most important areas of study. 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, go out with friends etc.”
In the Wealth Management and Financial Planning category, Alex Waddington (left), Chartered MCSI of Smith & Williamson Investment Management and Stuart Robinson, Chartered MCSI of Royal Bank of Scotland were amongst the achievers. Alex said: “I took the CISI CWM exams in order to obtain my level 6 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 across the world and signify an individual’s ability to provide up to date knowledge as well as practicing 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 did find 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 Robinson (right) is the first achiever to receive the new CISI Pensions Transfers and Planning Advice award. He is a Wealth Manager with Royal Bank of Scotland. He said: “Whilst I already have relevant industry pensions examinations, these were taken over 15 years ago. With all the changes in pensions legislation I felt that 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 industry experience and existing knowledge helped. Following the exam success I was invited to join the Pension Transfer and Planning Advice Exam Panel with the CISI which I believe is a real mark of professional standing and has been an enjoyable experience. In terms of relaxation, the week before the exam I was playing tennis in Romania.”