formerly the Securities and Investment Institute

Risk in Financial Services Qualification


The following summary is intended to set out the key elements of the course, and is based on personal experience from students who have recently gained this certificate. Prospective students should consider this course in the context of other courses on offer from other bodies.


Overview of the CISI course

The CISI course offers a certificate in Risk in Financial Services and can be taken as a standalone unit or as part of the CISI Certificates Programme (CISI Level 3 Certificate in Investments) or the Investment Administration Qualification (the “IAQ”). Candidates receive free CISI student membership on registering for the course.

The option of London based study further adds to the appeal of this University, making it more accessible to a wider range of our membership.

The certificate covers the following nine chapters:

  • MSc Financial Services, Risk and Operations
  • MSc Banking, Finance and Risk Management
  • BA/BA(HONS) Finance Investment and Risk

Each chapter is given a particular weighting that is reflected in the number of questions asked in the exam. Emphasis is given on Risk Related Regulation and Policy, Operational Risk and Credit Risk.

The pass mark for the exam is 70% and the pass rate is 80%.

Further information on the course can be found on the CISI website at:

Duration of Study

The recommended study time is 100 hours. This timescale was found to be a realistic for students who are new to the material. The course can be commenced at any time but the learning material and exam content is revised at set dates. Candidates should note that the CISI course covers an evolving discipline and recent legislative and regulatory changes will be incorporated into the exams before the learning material is officially updated. When commencing the course candidates should also consider how long they have before the course is updated as the content may change significantly between revision dates.

Entry Requirements

There are no entry requirements to take the CISI exam.

To sign up for an exam you must book and pay through the CISI online shop. A workbook covering the course content can be purchased separately. The workbook is not required to gain the certificate but is highly recommended as it provides an up to date account of all relevant learning material. At the time of writing the price for the CISI exam was £165 and the workbook was £75.

Method of Assessment

A two hour computer-based test (“CBT”) consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions. The exam can be taken at any one of the CISI’s CBT centres located worldwide. Exams are scheduled on a rolling basis through the year. On completion of the exam candidates are informed if they have passed and their mark can be viewed online approximately 48 hours later. A formal certificate is issued to successful candidates at a later date.

As part of ongoing quality control, some candidates sitting the exam are required to answer up to 10% additional trial questions that are not separately identified and do not contribute to the result. Those candidates are given proportionately more time to complete the test.

An online study tool is also available on the CISI website (Revision Express Interactive), which can be used in conjunction with the workbook. At the time of writing it was priced at £35 per user.

Student Body

Generally students are employees from the finance industry but as the course is self-study there is no peer contact. As an option CISI operates formal training for the course through accredited training providers which enables study with other students taking the exam. CISI also operate an online forum though its website and a student events calendar to encourage contact amongst peers.

Course Tutors

The CISI workbook is written and updated by industry specialists and reviewed by senior figures in the financial services industry.

Accredited training courses are operated by external organisations such as universities or private training providers. CISI accreditation requires at a minimum one member of the accredited body to have 3 years teaching experience and be working towards CISI membership or already be a member of a comparable organisation. A list of accredited training providers can be found on the CISI website. As courses are not directly operated by CISI the quality of teaching may be variable and are dependent on the provider.


If the candidate opts for formal training the facilities will vary depending on the individual training centre. This is not applicable for self-study students.

The examination facilities will also vary according to where the CBT is being taken.

General Summary and Assessment

The CISI course provides a good overview of the key concepts of risk management in the finance industry and is very relevant for practitioners currently working in the field. The course is of particular benefit to individuals who are new to the sector. The exam does not require extensive experience in risk management but very detailed knowledge of the learning material is required to pass the exam. The multiple-choice format generally tests understanding of the course material but there is also some emphasis on memorisation as well. On completion of the course the workbook serves as a useful reference tool for employees in the industry.

The CISI online facilities are generally good but it was commented that the online registration process was difficult to navigate and could be more streamlined.

Overall the IOR certifies the CISI course. Candidates may find the quality of accredited training courses to be variable but these are not necessary to take the exam. The course is designed for self study and the resources provided for this are very good. The IOR would recommend the course to any student wishing to seek an introductory course in financial risk management.

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