The Professional Certificate for Designated Persons in a Fund Management Company

The Professional Certificate for Designated Persons in a Fund Management Company

hands raised in classroomThe Professional Certificate for Designated Persons in a Fund Management Company was introduced in 2021 to support the development of individuals in or aspiring to Designated Person roles and individuals supporting Designated Persons (DPs).

Origin of the Programme

Education and training in the area of Fund Management Companies (Fund ManCos) has been under consideration for some years in light of the significant and increasing regulatory requirements being applied to these entities. Training for the sector became all the more important following the publication of the Central Bank of Ireland dear Chair letter of 20 October 2020 1, where a number of weaknesses in relation to the performance of DP roles were highlighted. The Central Bank said that there were “significant shortcomings” in how some DPs discharge their roles and the letter identified particular areas of concern such as delegate oversight and risk management. Overall the letter pointed towards the need for targeted and robust training for Fund ManCo professionals.

The need for training for Designated Persons had indeed been identified by DPs themselves, prior to the publication of the Central Bank findings, and it was a common topic during discussions at various Irish Funds working groups.

Developing the Programme

In light of the October 2020 dear Chair letter, IOB convened a roundtable of interested stakeholders in January 2021 to explore options on how best to approach Fund ManCo/DP related training. In addition to Irish Funds, attendees included representatives from IOB’s Funds Advisory Board, the Irish Fund Directors Association and CEOs from a number of Fund ManCos. All were strongly supportive of Fund ManCo training for reasons including the growth and potential substantial growth in the funds industry and how a relevant qualification, particularly an accredited or recognised qualification, was a good opportunity to identify an interesting career path within the industry. Attendees also pointed out that it was incumbent on industry to lead in this area and to develop the talent pipeline to fill DP roles.

Following the roundtable IOB developed a Postgraduate Certificate for Designated Persons in a Fund Management Company. As a recognised college of University College Dublin (UCD) and a centre of excellence in the provision of specialist education, IOB’s programmes are academically rigorous and industry relevant. They are developed in collaboration with industry partners which in this case is Irish Funds with input from IOB’s Funds Advisory Board.

What’s involved?

The programme is led by Killian Buckley, an investment management industry veteran who has held DP roles as well as many senior management and director roles in the funds industry. Killian is joined by Richard Wane the former CEO of Vanguard Group, (Ireland) Limited and by Mark White and colleagues from McCann FitzGerald Solicitors. As each worked to develop content for their area of the programme, they were aided by feedback from industry participants and particularly the invaluable feedback from DPs participating in Irish Funds DP Forums.

The programme consists of one module over 10 weeks, which begins with the legal and regulatory regime for Fund ManCos before focussing on the development of a “DP Mindset” and the importance of constructive challenge. Developing skills to manage conflicts and to be equipped to engage with boards and the Central Bank are also key constituents. The feedback from those who have completed the programme has been excellent.

Focus on technical aspects of DP roles

IOB and Irish Funds are currently developing masterclasses related to the individual Fund ManCo managerial functions and the technical knowledge required to fulfil these roles.

Each masterclass has a particular focus on the role of the relevant Designated Person. An important objective of each one is the aim to determine and develop best practice standards by Designated Persons. This will be achieved through the three sessions, each for three hours, involving explanation, discussion and, crucially, debate on the individual topics. The first of these is the Distribution Function given the strong demand from industry participants for technical training in this area.

And looking forward…

The Fund ManCo landscape in Ireland has evolved significantly in the last number of years and the Central Bank of Ireland has raised the bar in terms of the experience, expertise and independent mindset expected of those performing the role of DP. For the long-term success of the funds industry in Ireland, Fund ManCos will require individuals with the right skill set, knowledge and expertise to take on these roles. Moreover, for Ireland to retain its status as a leading international hub for funds, the sector must continue to demonstrate its commitment to fund governance.

There is a great opportunity for the sector including opportunity to build on a more diverse and inclusive sector, with enhanced leadership and operating models. IOB and Irish Funds will seek to ensure that high quality training is in place to support that outcome.

1Re: Thematic review of fund management companies’ governance, management and effectiveness

Martina Kelly is Director of Funds at the Institute of Banking.

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