Sound Investment In Financial Services

Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education (BIFHE), the Securities and Investment Institute (SII) and the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) have joined forces to introduce and teach the globally recognised qualification which will support Invest Northern Ireland’s drive to attract more international financial services companies to locate here.

BIFHE and SII announced the new ‘Investment Administration Qualification’ (IAQ) today at an event in Belfast for Northern Ireland’s fast growing financial services industry.

The sector, which currently employs almost 20,000 people in activities such as retail banking, insurance, pensions, accountancy, software and business processing, has already attracted top international corporations such as Citigroup, Liberty Mutual, Allstate and HBOS to locate substantial operations here.

Brian Turtle, BIFHE Director, announcing the new course, said: “Our decision to introduce this qualification is to meet the demand of business for specialist support to this important sector. We decided to approach the Securities and Investment Institute in conjunction with Invest NI & DEL and to take the steps needed for us to become an SII approved centre. This enabled us to introduce the course.

“Our objective is to develop a healthy skills supply of talented people and a deeper pool of expertise in key activities such as operations and cutting edge technology, both of which are critical success factors in determining the growth of financial services in Northern Ireland.

“The IAQ is widely acknowledged as the most appropriate qualification for staff involved in administration and operations within the investment world and its first element – the Introduction to Investment Award - is essential for those involved in working with a whole range of financial products,” he added.

Commenting on the qualification, Simon Culhane, Chief Executive of the Securities & Investment Institute, said:

“We were delighted to have been approached by BIFHE. Our IAQ is a benchmark qualification, available for example, in the Indian and US markets, which demonstrates the true portability of this qualification.”

Welcoming the initiative, Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Clients and Business International, said: “Financial services is a strategically important sector here for Northern Ireland. It is a sector which offers real opportunity for us to grow our service exports. The local provision of the IAQ develops the NI proposition as an investment location for financial services operations as it enhances our skills base.

“We’ve already successfully attracted many global leaders to set up and have also been encouraged by the emergence of a number of locally-owned companies such as First Derivatives, Harco Technology, Singularity and Datactics which are competing successfully in global financial centres such as New York, London and Tokyo.

“We aim to achieve further growth by putting Northern Ireland firmly on the map as an emerging force and a high quality location for the international financial services industry.

“Research shows that a pool of skilled labour is the most important attribute in determining the competitiveness of a financial centre, therefore access to these qualifications will serve to enhance skills within the existing companies and create the necessary labour supply chain for the development of higher value-added activities,” continued Jeremy Fitch.