The Accredited Funds Professional – a new designation from IoB supported by Irish Funds
Those working in the Irish funds industry are well aware of the enormous success of this sector over the last 30 years and the continuous change to the operating environment during that period. Perhaps however it is the pace of change that is now noteworthy, particularly in more recent times. Globalisation, technological advances, the focus on sustainable investing and increased scrutiny from regulatory authorities have all led to changes in how funds are managed and operated and will continue to do so.
The funds sector in Ireland
The funds sector plays a critical role in the functioning of the financial system – facilitating savers to prepare for their longer-term needs and facilitating capital allocation to direct funds from savers and investors to companies and borrowers. Ireland is an important player in the global funds sector and the activities of Irish fund service providers in relation to both Irish and non-Irish funds contribute strongly to the Irish economy.
In order to ensure continued success, it is more important than ever to maintain competitiveness that organisations upskill their employees on a continuous basis. Employees themselves need to ensure continuous personal development so that they are well placed to take on opportunities as they arise. It is in this context that the Institute of Banking (IoB), supported by Irish Funds, have introduced a new designation – the Accredited Funds Professional.
Educating, enabling and empowering funds professionals
IoB is a recognised college of UCD and is a centre of excellence in the provision of specialist education and lifelong learning to the financial services sector. Educating, enabling and empowering a community of professionals to deliver financial services to the highest standards, contributing to better customer and client outcomes is at the heart of the IoB purpose. The new designation seeks to achieve this purpose by maintaining levels of competence in the industry and providing a structured community of professionals. Irish Funds has a long-standing partnership with IoB to provide a range of programmes aimed specifically at those working in the funds industry.
The Accredited Funds Professional designation explained
The Accredited Funds Professional is available to industry professionals who have completed the Professional Certificate in International Investment Fund Services programme1 delivered by IoB and who agree to meet an annual continuing professional development (CPD) requirement. The Certificate is a three-module, level 7 programme, accredited by UCD. The programme is delivered over two academic trimesters, with enrolment in both January and September each year. The programme delivery consists of six practical workshops (Saturdays), eLearning tutorials (both live and recorded), module recap sessions, Course Manuals, Study Guides and sample assignments. On successful completion of the programme graduates may apply for the designation.
The Professional Certificate in International Investment Fund Services, like all IoB programmes, is regularly reviewed by IoB, in consultation with Irish Funds and industry participants, to ensure it remains current and relevant and reflects the changing environment and industry priorities. The CPD offering relating to the designation will be continually updated to ensure that Accredited Fund Professionals receive high quality training in contemporary and emerging topics.
The designation is also available to those who have completed the new Financial Services Elective as part of the Final Admitting Examination to Chartered Accountants Ireland. In addition, for a limited time, fund professionals with four or more years of relevant experience confirmed by their employer, who meet the programme competencies, may also apply for the designation. The total CPD requirement is ten hours per year, of which a minimum of five hours of Accredited Funds Professional specialist content must be completed through IoB/Irish Funds events and/or IoB online modules. Hours may also be attained through completion of approved training programmes and attendance at relevant industry events including conferences and seminars.
For individuals, becoming an Accredited Funds Professional provides a demonstration of their expertise, their client focus and their professionalism including their commitment to life-long learning and to continuously improving their skills and knowledge. It also provides a connection to their peers – a network of like-minded fund professionals.
For employers, supporting employees taking up the designation will assist them in attracting, developing and retaining talent. It will provide an external assurance of professional competence to clients and to regulatory bodies.
Finally, the designation fulfils an action identified in Ireland for Finance 2025 which sets out the Government strategy for the further development of the international financial services (IFS) sector in Ireland to 2025. That strategy includes a focus on the need for Ireland to have skilled people to meet the demands of the IFS sector, including meeting new and changing skills. Significant participation in the Accredited Funds Professional designation will distinguish the Irish funds industry among its global peers. It will demonstrate the importance placed by all industry participants on funds- related education and evidence the commitment by all involved to ensure that high standards prevail for the benefit of investors in funds.
1Graduates of the Professional Certificate in Mutual Fund Services and the Professional Certificate in Investment Funds Services programmes are eligible to apply for the designation.
To learn more about the Accredited Funds Professional designation please visit https://iob.ie/programme/accredited-funds-professional
Martina Kelly, Director Funds, IOB