The awards celebrate outstanding achievement among 68 Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) global finance students, demonstrating personal dedication and focus while combining work with study.
The awards ceremony took place at Mansion House, London recently and the award winners were 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 included Botswana, Egypt, Mauritius and Tunisia.
The gender split for award winners this year was 38% female and 62% male, whereas 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 winning two awards won each.
The UK regions with the highest number of winners were 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, an investment strategist with Caixabank, attended the CISI awards evening after travelling from Navarra, Spain. He achieved 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.”
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. 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, 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.”
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 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.
CISI’s foundation qualifications provide an introduction to the financial services profession and were described as an important first step in developing the essential knowledge required for working in financial services.
In this respect Keolebogile Kgololo was 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.”
Edwin Davies (left), 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.”
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).
She is a senior business analyst with Sygnita SA in Poland.
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.”
Julie Hedley 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 MCSI, of RPMI, achieved awards in both Regulation and Compliance and the Diploma in Investment Compliance.
The CISI Corporate Finance and Capital Markets 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 Diploma in Corporate Finance in this category.
In the Wealth Management and Financial Planning category, Alex Waddington, Chartered MCSI of Smith & Williamson Investment Management and Stuart Robinson, Chartered MCSI of Royal Bank of Scotland, were among the achievers.
Mr Waddington 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."
“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.”
Mr Robinson is the first achiever to receive the new CISI Pensions Transfers and Planning Advice award.
The wealth manager with Royal Bank of Scotland 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.”