The following case studies will give you a taste of what it’s like to pursue – and be successful in – certain financial services careers in order to pursue your dreams.
Jennifer Miller is an administrative assistant with SurePath Group, a financial advisory and insurance practice located in Red Deer, Alberta. Already responsible for a high volume of back office support in her firm’s investment and insurance businesses, Jennifer has been looking to transition to a travel insurance agent role. The completion of IFSE’s Accident and Sickness Insurance (A&S) course was a vital component in this new step in her career.
Jennifer knew some of what to expect from the course; several colleagues on the insurance side of the practice had enthusiastically recommended the A&S course to her. While she already had a solid foundation of experience in investments and financial planning, Jennifer found the A&S course particularly useful in providing new insights into this specialized area.
The subject matter of the A&S course is deep and detailed, but Jennifer found that it fit very well into her existing work and family life. Jennifer reports that by committing herself to cover one chapter a week, plus practice quizzes and practice tests, she was able to fit her A&S studies seamlessly into her busy schedule, which includes her full-time job and two school-aged children.
How has the A&S course helped Jennifer in her day-to-day job?
“It was interesting and practical to learn about all the groups, programs and individual benefit types in the insurance industry. The A&S learnings were very useful to me in my changing role and in my own career progress. If I were to look again into expanding my role, I’d definitely go with IFSE.”
Advice from Jennifer for other students taking the A&S course
“I’d advise them to study! Even though the exam’s open book, I found I needed to know the material. You don’t want to spend an hour during the exam looking up the answer. I met a couple of people at my exam who had already failed the previous day, so you don’t want to spend your time taking the exam multiple times.”
Dallas Skoda works in a client-facing administrative role for Braun Financial Services Ltd., a financial planning firm located in New Westminster, British Columbia. He’s well on his way to becoming a certified financial planner, and says IFSE’s Life License Qualification Program (LLQP) has been a big part of fulfilling that goal.
Dallas’s work mainly involves the segregated fund, life insurance and disability insurance markets, and he’s currently shadowing a senior advisor to learn how to build up his own book of business. IFSE’s online LLQP came highly recommended to him by colleagues.
Although Dallas already came into the LLQP with a professional and educational background in finance, he found that the LLQP further expanded his existing expertise. Not only did Dallas learn about the intricacies of the insurance industry, the LLQP gave him the knowledge base to be able to convey complex information easily to clients.
How has the LLQP helped Dallas in his day-to-day job?
“The program gave me a better handle on how to explain technically oriented subjects, such as how some insurance products work, to clients. So instead of giving them a technical definition, which no client really has the knowledge of, background in or inclination to even listen to, the LLQP helped me explain these matters to someone who doesn’t know anything about finance.”
Advice from Dallas for other students taking the LLQP
“Get a background in finance first. I have a degree in finance, but anything helps. I would suggest even a one-year certificate or diploma. There were a lot of things in the LLQP in which it helps to have somewhat of a background on.”
Ella Arsenault is a Branch Manager and Compliance Officer at Excel Private Wealth. While she had already been a Branch Manager prior to taking the Officers', Partners', and Directors' Course (OPD), she was looking to expand her responsibilities. Ella viewed the OPD as the next logical career step, since the course would allow her to gain capabilities related to compliance – an area of growing importance in financial services. The OPD helped her reach her goals, as she became qualified for the Compliance Officer role and now serves as backup to the company’s Chief Compliance Officer.
Ella chose the OPD because of IFSE’s reputation as a leading education provider. She had taken IFSE courses before – namely the Canadian Investment Funds Course, Exempt Market Proficiency Course and Branch Managers' Examination Course – so she was familiar with IFSE’s ease of registration, user-friendly course format and “study at your own pace” flexibility.
When considering her experience with the OPD, Ella thought all the content was valuable and equipped her with the knowledge to succeed in compliance. Learning about suitability rules, “Know Your Client” requirements and risk management procedures helped her immediately in her compliance duties. She found the OPD to be well planned and comprehensive. The course helped her achieve the next level of responsibility and opened the door for future career advancement.
How has the OPD helped Ella in her day-to-day job?
“From a compliance perspective, I understand the rules and regulations as they pertain to the client-advisor relationship, and this knowledge is crucial in my role. As an example, when we were revising certain client information forms, I knew exactly what sections were needed and what details we had to gather from clients. This made the process more efficient and resulted in accurate, compliant forms.”
What advice does Ella have for other students taking the OPD?
“Be sure to do the test questions, as they help you learn the material. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t just guess because you’ll likely be wrong. Go back to the course content, find the right answer and then return to the test to reinforce your learning. Otherwise, both the right and wrong answers could pop into your head at the exam, since your mind will recall having chosen both answers during the practice test.”
Rosemary Barber is an Administrative Assistant at Les Associés Redsell-Séguin & Associates, IPC Investment Corporation. While she had been productive in her position, she knew she could contribute even more to the team. One day, she was discussing professional training with a colleague and asked her which course she had taken to become a Licensed Assistant. Rosemary’s colleague directed her to IFSE’s Canadian Investment Funds Course (CIFC).
Rosemary decided to take the CIFC since she knew that once she became licensed, she would be able to accomplish much more in her role at work. She also intends to take the Branch Managers' Examination Course to help her advance further in her financial services career.
When considering her experience with the CIFC, Rosemary found that the interactive testing throughout the online course greatly assisted her in identifying areas to which she needed to pay added attention before proceeding to the next component. The testing helped her learn the course content more thoroughly and better prepare for the exam.
Having successfully completed the CIFC, Rosemary became a Licensed Assistant and has now expanded on her responsibilities. For instance, when a representative is away from the office and a client calls looking for assistance, she is better able to help with their needs.
How has the CIFC helped Rosemary in her day-to-day job?
“Recently, I assisted several clients while a representative in our office was on vacation, so we were able to maintain a high level of service in a seamless manner, contributing to continued client satisfaction. This would not have been possible if I hadn’t taken the CIFC.”
What advice does Rosemary have for other students taking the CIFC?
“I would recommend doing plenty of practice exam questions. I found the Study Guide and also the CIFC Exam Preparation Live Webinar recordings to be extremely helpful. Hearing the instructor on the webinar go through each question and answer was very beneficial.”
George Donnery is a Senior Customer Service Representative at CIBC. Having been in customer service for several years, first in the U.K. and then in Canada, he decided he was ready to take his career forward and work towards a more financial advisory role.
That’s when he turned to IFSE for training and education that could help him reach his career goals. He took the Canadian Investment Funds Course (CIFC) and found it to be comprehensive, effectively covering all aspects of the Canadian financial environment. George believes the course offered excellent value as his company benefits from partnership pricing with IFSE.
When considering his experience with the CIFC, George cites the video tutorials (Web Trainer for CIFC™) as being very helpful. He states that not only were the tutorials informative, but they also presented the information clearly, breaking down the material in an efficient manner and helping him understand the content quickly.
Having successfully completed the CIFC, he started exploring other positions within his company. He advanced from being a Customer Service Representative to his current senior role. George envisions transitioning into a sales position down the road.
How has the CIFC helped George in his day-to-day job?
“In my role I don’t advise or discuss investing specifics with clients, but I can provide general information. For instance, I spoke to a client about RRSPs. She’s in her 20s and wasn’t focused at all on retirement savings, so we discussed the benefits of starting young and building a strong foundation for her future. I also informed her about the LLP and HBP as potential ways to help finance education and home buying, respectively, and how RRSP funds can play a role, if needed. I made the client think about her financial needs for now and in the future, as well as the value of an RRSP.”
What advice does George have for other students taking the CIFC?
“I suggest that students take advantage of all the ways that the course facilitates learning (e.g., videos, tutorials, online content) to broaden and deepen their understanding of the course materials.”
In 2013, David Berliner (CEO) and Raphael Bouskila (President) co-founded an online investment platform for clean energy projects such as solar energy and efficiency installations.
Their company’s platform pools the money of predominantly institutional and accredited individual investors who seek access to investment opportunities in such projects that align with their community and environmental values.
Since David and Raphael needed registration as dealing representatives of an exempt market dealer, they fulfilled the regulatory requirement by completing IFSE’s Exempt Market Proficiency Course (EMP). They found the course to be extremely valuable because the content was straightforward and focused precisely on the areas they needed. Raphael, who also completed IFSE’s Officers’, Partners’, and Directors’ Course (OPD), calls the EMP “the industrystandard course in our field.”
When considering their experience with the EMP, Raphael and David found the entire learning process to be practical and targeted. For instance, the sections that covered products like principal-protected notes and flow-through shares served to expand their minds to the possibilities of what financing-related products their company could offer its investors.
Completing the EMP was critical for David and Raphael when launching their “impact investing” company. They embrace going beyond minimum compliance requirements as they value taking a careful approach to running their business in order to protect investors’ capital.
How has the EMP helped Raphael and David in their day-to-day job?
“ We spend all day in the exempt market world, so everything we’ve learned is useful. For example, when we launched our Green Bond, we considered all the possible types of qualified investors so we could better grasp the potential market. Ultimately, we are committed to meeting our clients’ interests, and what we’ve learned from the EMP helps us achieve that.”
What advice do David and Raphael have for other students taking the EMP?
“ Use the course content to put compliance rules into perspective. When you consider the course material in context of exempt markets, you’ll better understand important concepts such as the motivation behind the regulatory requirements (i.e., protecting the crucial relationship between issuer, investor and dealer).”
Jatinder Bajwa is a Banking Centre Leader (also known as a Branch Manager) at CIBC. As he was streamed at the bank to become a Banking Centre Leader, Jatinder proactively turned to IFSE before his promotion and took the required Branch Managers’ Examination Course (BM).
He chose IFSE to fulfill his training needs because his employer highly recommended the BM. Jatinder also consulted with colleagues who had competed the course and he received positive feedback about their experience. Jatinder enrolled in the BM and soon discovered why the course is highly regarded. The content was well organized and easy to understand, equipping him with all of the requisite knowledge for his new position and expanded responsibilities.
When considering his experience with the BM, Jatinder found that the risk management material was invaluable. He learned how to mitigate (and, wherever possible, avoid) risk from both the bank’s and the client’s perspective. Jatinder also views the section on effective supervision as extremely practical, since he must often coach sales staff on determining client suitability and providing financial advice.
Having been the preferred candidate for an opening as Banking Centre Leader, Jatinder met all of the requirements in advance, with the BM being an important component.
How has the BM helped Jatinder in his day-to-day job?
“Recently, our banking centre underwent an internal process assessment. Although such audits are standard for us, it can be stressful if you don’t know what to expect. Having taken the BM, I understood the concepts and was able to coach my staff (and prepare myself!) for the audit interviews. The assessment went smoothly and my team appreciated my help.”
What advice does Jatinder have for other students taking the BM?
“Preparation is key, learning all of the concepts inside out. Also try to apply the course content to your job so it becomes relevant and not just theoretical. It’s also great that IFSE provides ongoing access to your course, even after you’ve completed it, so go back to the content when needed. I still refer to it now when certain questions arise.”
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