Investment Operations Certificate

Level 3 Certificate in Investment Operations

Why study the Investment Operations Certificate (IOC)?

The Investment Operations Certificate (IOC) is our most established qualification and is taken by practitioners globally to enhance their knowledge and skills of the administration and operations areas of the financial services sector. The qualification will provide you with an overview of the financial services profession and its regulation, whilst also covering technical units relevant to the area in which you work. It offers 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 50 countries. Completing the IOC demonstrates professionalism and commitment to high standards and offers access to higher-level qualifications and career progression.

Is the IOC right for me?

The IOC is suitable for all staff working in, or aspiring to work in, the administration and operations areas of financial services. There are no entry requirements and the exam is open to all levels.

The qualification is increasingly used as a benchmarking tool by major banks and investment firms to ensure that staff possess practical knowledge which can be immediately applied to business activities.

Key features:

  • Taken in over 50 countries – reflecting the global importance of operations
  • Offers a progressive study pathway – the IOC is the first step in the CISI’s operation qualifications study pathway and offers access to higher-level qualifications
  • Recognised by the FCA – the IOC features on the Financial Conduct Authority’s Appropriate Qualification Tables as a suitable exam for those in a number of overseeing roles (dependent on technical role chosen: regulated activities 15, 16 and 17)
  • Flexible study options – you can choose from a range of technical units allowing you to focus on topics relevant to your job role. The UK regulatory unit can be replaced with a regulatory paper recognised by your local jurisdiction
  • Free CISI Student membership – become associated with a Chartered professional body and take advantage of an extensive range of benefits
  • ACSI designatory letters
  • Exams available online via remote invigilation or at one of our global test centres

Qualification factsheet

Qualification Structure

Unit selection depends on individual circumstances but generally candidates are either:

  • Working for a firm which is regulated by the FCA. These candidates that are in FCA regulated roles 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 or in FCA regulated roles. These candidates may, if their firm agrees, select any three units.

Exemptions from certain units are available. View exemption list.

Select an exam to view full details:

Total Qualification Time:
243 hours

The total qualification time (TQT) for this qualification is 243 hours. TQT is an estimate of the number of hours that a typical candidate might reasonably spend in achieving the qualification. This will vary depending on your previous experience, and includes any formal study as well as self-study and assessment time.


Exam Details

Exam Availability

Pass Mark / Pass Rate

The current pass rate for this exam is and the pass mark is . The exam grades are as follows:

Regulated Qualifications Framework

credits on the Regulated Qualifications Framework are awarded upon successfully passing this exam

Feedback and Appeals

For further details on how to give us your feedback and / or Appeal your result, please refer to our Exam Policies.

The Investment Operations Certificate is recognised by Ofqual as the level 3 Certificate in Investment Operations. This qualification is regulated by Ofqual as a level 3 qualification on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). Success in this qualification carries with it a minimum of 24 RQF credits and on the European Qualifications Framework, this equates to a level 4 qualification. + These exams are regulated by Ofqual.

Study support


A CISI workbook is required to be purchased when booking each IOC unit exam. This is to ensure there is one standard workbook from which all exam candidates can prepare. You can also choose to purchase CISI elearning to support your exam preparation.

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Accredited Training Partners

You can choose to complete formal training for our exams with a CISI Accredited Training Partner (ATP).

Find an ATP near you

Post Qualification Opportunities


Obtaining the IOC qualification entitles you 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. Total qualification time for this qualification is 324 hours.

Higher Level Qualifications

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