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The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) ensures and promotes the highest level of competence within the securities and investment industry. By becoming a member of the CISI, you are taking a vital step towards getting your ideal job and safeguarding your future career.

The CISI is the major professional and examining body for the securities and investment industry, with more than 40,000 members, including over 20,000 students. It provides a wide range of industry qualifications, which last year attracted nearly 40,000 entries. The CISI is also a substantial provider of study and reference materials, conferences, training courses and seminars.

Unlike trade associations, its primary purpose is to meet the needs of individuals working, or aspiring to work, in the broad investment sector. Firms can also become corporate supporters, which entails signing up to the CISI’s prestigious Code of Conduct, which was developed with the Worshipful Company of International Bankers.

The CISI has three main areas of focus:

  1. To help individuals attain competence (principally though qualifications and learning resources).
  2. To help them maintain their competence through continuing professional development (both online and via a programme of seminars).
  3. To promote trust through a range of services ensuring that members uphold high professional standards.

Until recently, almost all of the CISI’s work was focused on individuals working in financial services. Since 2005, the CISI has been working with the further and higher education sector in a more systematic way. Universities offering outstanding and relevant postgraduate studies can become CISI Centres of Excellence and their students can compete for scholarships. The CISI has also started developing pathway programmes for school leavers.

The CISI has developed relationships with more than 20 providers of relevant finance undergraduate degree programmes to introduce Institute exams as part of those schemes and, on occasion, to permit exemptions from certain CISI professional exams. Over the next few years this will increase substantially. The aim is to encourage students to be ‘job ready’ as far as we can, working in partnership with firms and universities.

At the same time, the CISI welcomes the fact that many financial services industry employers recruit graduates from a wide range of degree subjects, including humanities, languages and sciences, so the CISI also offers student membership to individuals from any degree discipline who have an interest in a ‘City’ career. In both cases it offers students networking opportunities with investment professionals in their region and a wide range of resources to enable students to become industry aware and career-ready.

History of the CISI

The CISI evolved from the London Stock Exchange and was originally known as the Securities Institute. It became a chartered body in 2009 and serves a wide range of practitioners across investment job roles.

The Institute is often referred to as the ‘City exams body’ or the ‘professional body of the City’ because it focuses on the capital markets sector, in which London is acknowledged to be one of the world’s leading centres. The CISI has 17 regional committees throughout the UK and Ireland, and also national advisory boards in countries including Bahrain, UAE, India, Cyprus and Switzerland. The CISI has offices in India, Singapore, Dubai and Sri Lanka as well as its head office in London. Most exams are available by computer based testing (CBT) throughout the world and are taken by specialists from over 70 countries. The CISI is accredited by a range of regulatory authorities, both in the UK and internationally.


Student membership is open to anyone at undergraduate or postgraduate level aspiring to work in the financial services industry and also to all candidates preparing for CISI qualifications.

Progress to higher levels of membership is earned through a mixture of professional qualifications and a personal commitment to high standards of competence and integrity. There is a specialist student officer to assist with this transition. There are five grades of membership, plus the opportunity to become personally chartered:

  1. Student
  2. Affiliate
  3. Associate (ACSI)
  4. Member (MCSI) and Chartered MCSI
  5. Fellow (FCSI) and Chartered FCSI.

The main benefits for student members are:

  • Free access to the CISI continuing professional development (CPD) scheme.
  • Attendance at four free CPD events per year.
  • CISI TV, which allows members to watch CPD events online.
  • The Securities & Investment Review, the CISI membership magazine, and Regulatory Update (a guide to recent and future changes in UK and EU regulation) are available online or via a smartphone app.
  • Student events such as ‘What is a Derivative?’ and CISI exam techniques.
  • Professional Refresher, an online
  • learning tool.
  • CISI Infolink (a searchable online information library).
  • A 50% discount on attending any one CISI conference per year. Student members receive a 20% saving on one training course per year.
  • IntegrityMatters, an e-learning tool designed to highlight dilemmas the individual may face at work.
  • Online careers information, including help with CVs and interview skills.

Associate (ACSI) and other levels of membership

Those who achieve CISI benchmark qualifications (e.g. CISI level 3 Certificate in Investments, the Investment Operations Certificate – formerly known as the Investment Administration Qualification, the Islamic Finance Qualification) or pass one Diploma or Masters paper are eligible to become Associate members of the Institute. Associate membership is also available to holders of certain other externally recognised qualifications. Associate membership is an essential first step in the progression to more senior levels of membership and carries the designatory letters ACSI.

Full membership (MCSI) is open to practitioners with a fuller range of qualifications and experience. Further details can be found at on the CISI website.

To become personally chartered, members have to commit to compulsory annual CPD and pass an online ethics test. All members are required to comply with the CISI’s Code of Conduct. The organisation publishes case studies, provides seminar opportunities and has created an excellent e-learning tool on ethics.

Careers and the CISI

Student members have access to a wide range of career related activities. Most students will already be in relevant work but increasingly full-time students wishing to give themselves a competitive edge are joining the CISI. Such students are advised to prepare for the CISI Introduction to Securities & Investment qualification, or to purchase the associated workbook, as it provides a wide range of information aimed at individuals new to the industry. University students are encouraged to attend the Institute’s CPD events, which are a perfect opportunity to meet investment banking professionals informally.

About the Author

  • About Ruth Martin: Ruth Martin is Managing Director of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment.

Ruth Martin

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