During my time at Investec, I had the opportunity to sit the Investment Operations Certificate through the CISI, and of course I jumped at the opportunity! I am always willing to learn, and I knew that if I wanted to progress my career in the Investment Industry, the IOC would be a necessity.

Now that I recruit for the Investment industry, I come across many candidates who are currently undergoing the IOC qualification, so I thought I would share my experience and give some of my tips for successful completion.

1. Do the practice questions over and over

Obviously the first thing you need to do when you receive your study book is thoroughly read it! Depending on your study provider, you will normally be given multiple choice practice questions for each subject. After each chapter I would recommend doing the practice questions over and over, until you know them inside out. Similarly, once you have read the whole book, sit the mock exams, and do them over and over until you’re getting over 90%.

2. The exams will be worded differently to the practice questions

I was shocked during the first exam at just how different the questions were, and I’ve heard the same feedback from a lot of people! The key is to take a deep breath, calm down, and realise that you do know the answers. If you’ve done all of the preparation, you will have the answer somewhere in your brain.

3. Trust your instinct

As the exams are multiple choice, it can be easy to start to second guess yourself. Normally (not all of the time, but normally!) your instinct is correct – don’t change your answer unless you’re 100% sure you’ve made an error.

4. Keep the momentum going

Once you’ve completed the 1st exam, keep the momentum going and order the next set of study materials as soon as possible. I completed the IOC within a year – I know this isn’t always possible as life can get in the way, but if you can, try and get it done as quickly as possible. You’ll be on such a high from passing the 1st exam that you’ll be more determined to carry on with the next.

5. The 3rd unit

When it comes to picking your option for the 3rd exam, think carefully about what you want to do. It’s a good idea to do something that genuinely interests you, but also keep in mind potential further studies. For example if you want to sit the Level 5, Advanced Certificate in Global Securities Operations, you will need to make sure you sit the correct 3rd exam. Just something to bear in mind.

I would always highly recommend completing the IOC if the opportunity is offered to you. If you want to progress your career, many senior/specialist roles within Investment Operations will require you to have the IOC qualification.