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Now, more than ever, the “wait and see” approach doesn’t work when it comes to investing. Everyone works hard for their money and wants it to work equally hard in return. That’s why many people are taking their investment strategy into their own hands, while others are pursuing careers in the investment field to help Canadians better manage their investments in an ever-changing financial services industry.
Part of that path to more knowledgeable investing, or a new career, may include taking a Canadian Securities Course (CSC) and likely following that with the subsequent CSC exams to earn a CSC designation. For serious personal investors, the course provides a basis in understanding securities, while those pursuing a career in the financial services industry will see the education and earned designation as their initial step towards advancing a fulfilling career.
The CSC is the baseline regulatory requirement for an individual to conduct transactions in securities and mutual funds in many financial services positions. After passing the CSC exam, the opportunities for future designations opens up, but let’s start at the start.
As mentioned, for many, taking the course and earning the CSC designation provides the ability to get into a financial services career. More and more financial services organizations are looking for CSC graduates because the education ensures they have a better understanding of the current landscape in the financial services industry and how it is structured, they know the features and benefits of a number of financial instruments, they see how to assess market performance including the ability to analyze corporate financial statements, they understand the portfolio management process, they gain a deeper knowledge of industry standards and ethics and they achieve a greater ability to serve financial services clients.
The CSC designation may be enough for some individuals in terms of their career paths, for others, it’s what they need to proceed to next step in obtaining the career they want such as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Certified Financial Analyst (CFA).
Aside from using the CSC course as a step in a career path, for the serious personal investor, taking the course provides more than just further education (although learning something new is always good). For one, it allows the ability to better understand financial reports in print or online. Many people, while relatively investment savvy, find the markets confusing. The education in the CSC course helps to simplify and create an understanding around the reports that dominate the financial landscape. Secondly, because the CSC is really the ground level investment course, if you have an interest in investments, investing and the markets, this is best source of quality education at the initial, yet specific level. Third, and perhaps most important, is that the CSC Canada course allows for a greater sense of control over a wider range of investments.
All in all, whether the exam and designation is essential for your goals or not, taking the course is a great idea to provide a base knowledge of useful information about the world of investing. The focus is heavier on the investment products so those looking to broaden their knowledge of these will certainly benefit. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of the Canadian Securities Course is that it clarifies how investment advisors get paid and the various fees involved – this is important for those who invest on their own as well as those who don’t which is knowledge anyone investing should have.
Both types of students will benefit from learning about the market and economic events that impact investments; understanding about various financial instruments like fixed income, equities, derivatives, managed products and structured products; understanding the portfolio management process and asset allocation; setting financial goals and understanding the financial planning process and more.
For the personal investor, taking the exams is just a matter of preference. If the designation and proof you passed the exams is important to you, by all means, take them. It’s a two-step process where, after completing the course you sign up with the Canadian Securities Institute (CSI) for the first multiple choice exam. Additional study is required before the second exam can be taken, which is also multiple choice.
If you achieve 60% or higher on each two-hour exam, you will be eligible to apply for your CSC designation through CSI. If you don’t pass on your first attempt, don’t worry. Take some time to thoroughly study the information before your second try. There are three attempts allowed per exam.
Anyone looking to the CSC as a career path stepping stone likely already knows taking the exams is essential as the designation counts as much as the education. Passing the CSC allows those in the financial services industry to move on to courses and designations like the Personal Financial Planner (PFP), Chartered Investment Manager (CIM), MTI Estate and trust Professional as well as certificates in: Financial Services Advice, Investment Dealer Compliance, Advanced Investment Advice, Fixed Income Trading and Sales, Equity Trading and Sales, Advanced Mutual Funds Advice and Personal Banking.
Taking the course is easy. In addition to the methods offered by CSI, a number of education institutions offer the CSC course in varying degrees. The course itself was established as a self-study program, but institutions recognized the value of providing a structured format for students to digest the information. Course set ups vary depending upon the education institution so look to one with a structure that fits your personal needs and study style.
Some people prefer to be self-studiers, while others need the formal sit-down in-class approach to supplement their own studying practice. This latter version is often designed to give students the best of both worlds: the ability to go through materials in their own way but also to have a forum for questions, exploring concepts and sharing while also gaining footing to feel prepared for the exams.
Learning about investments and understanding financial instruments isn’t necessarily for everyone. Those who are interested in pursuing a career in the financial services industry, are already in financial services and want to advance into different roles or personal investors who want to learn more may benefit from taking the Canadian Securities Course and earning a CSC designation.