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Sunday, 14th April 2024
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International Financial Services Institute’s training programme Back  
The recently established International Financial Services Institute offers courses to train the next generation of financial experts - from short programmes through to BA and MA qualifications. Nicola Carroll explains what's on offer and why it is increasingly important that Irish financial workers are educated to the highest international standards.
TThe successful growth story of the international financial services (IFS) industry in Ireland has been well documented and, in particular, the rapid growth in employment within the 15.8 hectare site which houses the IFSC has been remarkable. More than 16,000 people are presently employed in the IFSC with many more employed indirectly. Of course, none of this success would have been possible without the people who work within the sector, because at its heart, the financial services industry is a people business. Its success has been inextricably bound up with the quality and the skill of the people who work within the industry. However, as with any people businesses, it is vital that the financial services industry in Ireland maintains its competitive edge against competing financial centres by continuing to invest in training and skills development for its employees.

The good news, not only for IFSC-based companies, but all Irish-based financial organisations, is that investing in their employees’ training and educational needs has never been easier since the launch of the International Financial Services Institute (IFSI) right in the heart of the IFSC in January 2004. The Institute is providing, for the first time in Ireland, an accredited, fully integrated and progression-based educational platform for the financial services community. This new Institute, which is supported by the Department of the Taoiseach and the IDA, provides a new and rewarding learning experience for both first time entrants to the sector and for its experienced professionals. The Institute offers a suite of programmes ranging from short six week academic courses in areas such as treasury management and insurance right up to Master’s level qualifications.

The IFSI’s learner-centred ethos derives from the philosophy of its host institution, the National College of Ireland (NCI). It operates on the same principles, providing education and training services to the sector at a time, pace and place that best meets the needs of the learner. It provides an advanced, state-of-the-art and learner-centred environment for a continuum of educational supports to the sector.

Programmes are structured, but with sufficient flexibility to suit the needs of busy professionals.

Maurice O’Connell, chairman of the IFSI, described the Institute as a ‘critical piece of the IFSC and financial services infrastructure.’ He explained that the companies within the sector, the IDA and policymakers all agreed that education, and particularly continuing education, is vital if the growth of the past 17 years is to be sustained. ‘Ultimately, as financial services become ever more complex, there is a real danger that skills shortages could put Ireland at a significant disadvantage compared to competing centres in Europe and further afield.’

Programmes offered through the IFSI
So what can finance professionals study at the IFSI? The Institute offers part-time programmes from undergraduate right through to Masters level, with the Masters in Finance course being regarded by industry as one of the pre-eminent qualifications for finance professionals in Ireland. Existing students on this programme are already realising the benefits of this course. According to second year student D?nal Kelly, fund accountant, ‘I chose the Masters in Finance at the IFSI as I was looking for a qualification that would enhance and transform my skills as a practitioner in the banking industry. I can already say that the programme has played a major role in strengthening my self-confidence and knowledge, it has broadened my employment horizons and I am certain that I will be a better professional and a more informed decision maker when I finish the course. The fact that the IFSI is based right in the heart of Dublin’s International Financial Centre and offers all its programmes part-time made my decision to return to study a lot easier.’

The existing suite of programmes being offered by the IFSI includes:
- MA in Finance - commences January 2005: The MA in Finance provides participants with a unique opportunity to gain a Masters qualification while preparing for the CFA examinations. The IFSI worked closely with the CFA Institute University Relations department in designing this part-time Master’s degree programme which prepares individuals to sit all three levels of the CFA examinations. Around the world, employers and investors increasingly recognise the CFA designation as the definitive standard for measuring competence and integrity within the profession of investment management. A combination of a Masters in Finance and the CFA charter will make a candidate far more competitive in the global jobs market.

The programme is run part-time over two years and equips participants with a strong foundation in the principles and practice of finance and with the analytical tools and perspectives that provide a sensible basis for decision making. This Master’s is uniquely designed to develop financial management skills that are required in a competitive business environment and is particularly suitable for individuals who already have an honours degree in a relevant field of study and who are now looking to deepen their insights into practical applications of financial analysis.

- BA (Honours) in Financial Services - commences September 2005: The BA (Honours) in Financial Services is ideal for individuals who are already working in financial services and are looking to develop their careers. This programme, which is delivered over three years part-time, provides the knowledge and tools needed to understand concepts and frameworks used internationally in the financial services industry, enabling participants to expand their theoretical and practical knowledge in this field.

Graduates of the programme develop skills that will allow them to appreciate the complexities of the financial services industry, which will enable them to display an awareness of best practice and to contribute to organisational capability.

Short academic courses in finance - January - March 2005
The IFSI offers a suite of short (six to seven weeks long) academic programmes that have been designed to introduce participants to basic concepts and frameworks used in the international financial services industry.
All of the short courses offered are ideally suited to candidates who are looking to develop their knowledge and skills in a particular area without committing to a longer term academic programme. As the short programmes are tied into the BA programme offered by the IFSI, it enables individuals to try a programme of study before committing to the full three year programme as successful completion of the exams at the end of each short course will give the participant an exemption towards the BA in Financial Services.

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