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Being forced back to the classroom each autumn ends for most people as they become adults, but for financial advisors, education is a continual loop.
They need continuing education (CE) to keep on top of a rapidly evolving personal finance industry as an influx of baby boomer Canadians settle into retirement and Generation X and millennials get serious about their financial future.
“The investment industry is such a dynamic industry. Continuing education is really an important facet to ensure that those in registered positions are keeping up to date with new products, regulations, or maybe new tax laws,” says Marshall Beyer, senior director at the Canadian Securities Institute (CSI) in Toronto.
“Anything that impacts their ability to provide advice to clients.”
CSI provides CE and custom training for advisors looking to focus on more specific areas of the market.
“We have more advance courses that lead to certifications in areas like financial planning, investment management, wealth management, and trust and estates,” he says.
Many CSI courses are available online, or at colleges and universities across the country, and introductory courses are open to people in non-finance professions, such as journalism, or for anyone who wants to know more about their own finances. However, some are compulsory for regulated advisors and financial services firms that want to remain in good standing with regulators.
“To be a supervisor, trader, portfolio manager or investment advisor – those are examples of the different types of registration categories,” Mr. Beyer says.
“It’s required and if someone doesn’t meet their continuing education requirement every two-year cycle, both the firm and individual advisor are subject to disciplinary actions,” he adds.
Some of the newer courses come in response to a growing demand for sophisticated new investment products, including cryptocurrencies and what are termed “liquid alternatives or alternative mutual funds.”
“They are basically hedge funds, but hedge funds that can be sold to retail investors. The investment manager is allowed to do a variety of things that regular mutual fund managers are not allowed to do like short sell and use derivatives,” says Mr. Beyer.
In a take on the common know-your-client rule, he says advisors are formally bound by the know-your-product rule.
“Before advisors sell these types of investments, they need to know their product. That’s a regulatory requirement,” he adds.
CE courses, webinars and workshops are also available for advisors through The Financial Advisors Association of Canada – known as Advocis. It’s the largest association for professional advisors in Canada, representing more than 13,000 members and 40 chapters across the country.
“There is so much continuing education that is now available from a whole bunch of different places. The challenge for advisors and planners is to understand what to choose,” says Barbara Riddell, vice-president of learning and development at Advocis in Toronto.
“It has to come down to relevancy. It has to be relevant to your practice, to where you are in your career, and to your clients,” she adds.
One designation program for financial planners the Institute for Advanced Financial Education, an Advocis subsidiary, offers is the chartered life underwriter (CLU). The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario recently approved those who hold the CLU to use the financial planner title under the province’s new title protection rules.
“[The CLU] is basically an advanced financial planning designation. It takes you into a deeper conversation around taxation efficiencies, investment and insurance strategies,” Ms. Riddell says. “It’s meant to take a planner or advisor into a stronger technical arena.”
The CLU must be updated annually, along with the professional financial advisor (PFA) and certified health insurance specialist (CHS) designations, the latter of which is for advisors in the health insurance sector.
Advocis also offers voluntary CE courses to keep up with changing demographics including Working with Senior Clients, which helps advisors identify early signs of dementia in aging clients.
The course was created in response to an outcry from frustrated advisors put in the position of having to assess the mental capacity of clients making investment decisions. Advisors who pass the course are permitted to add the elder planning counsellor (EPC) designation to their credentials.
Another voluntary course called Why Diversity Matters explores how advisors can attract more clients from different cultural backgrounds and make changes to their marketing strategies to tap into the growing multicultural demographic.
“It’s incredibly important. If we want to remain relevant with continuing education offerings, we have to pay attention to demographic shifts, changes in regulatory situations and other circumstances,” Ms. Riddell says.
Mandatory CE requirements often draw fire from advisors and financial firms who say the added regulation and formal paperwork are distractions.
Ms. Riddell dismisses claims of over-regulation and says CE serves a greater good.
“It’s coming from a place of protecting consumers against confusing titles,” she says.
“We may disagree with regulators in terms of how they view things but that’s what being at the table is all about.”
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Is finance a good career path these days? It’s a tricky question. Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a variety of answers.
One of the most surprising aspects of my two-decade career in financial services at two of the largest brokerage firms was how many career paths there are in the industry.
The financial services industry is not only limited to roles like Financial Advisor, Financial Planner, Finance Analyst, Research Analyst, Investment Banker, Accountant, or other jobs in finance.
Finance is a good career path because there are so many different paths. Many don’t even require a finance degree or related coursework. This article explores some lesser-known opportunities in the industry.
Many people would be surprised to find out how many career paths there are and how well careers in financial services pay. Most jobs do not require a finance degree or business degree of any kind.
I switched paths often over my 22-year career. I believe in pursuing what is interesting until it no longer is. So I changed directions often. Each time came with a bump in compensation.
A business degree was not necessary for any of the following roles. I do not have a bachelor’s degree in finance, yet I did them all. All of this pinballing around raised my income nearly 8x in 22 years.
Financial Advisors need internal customer service. There are many areas within Service. Expertise in finance is generally not required. Positions in Service are easier ways to get your foot in the door.
In Financial Services, there are many roles behind the scenes. Many of these roles are reconciling financial data and financial records. These roles include supporting Tax Reporting, Financial Performance Reporting, Money Movement, Financial Statements, Securities Trading, Trade Corrections, Corporate Actions, Retirement Processing, and Fee Billing.
This position is responsible for developing new products and features. They can be investment products or software. For instance, a financial planning software that either clients, Financial Advisors, or Financial Planners use to develop plans.
This was a role in the Compliance department, but I worked closely with other departments like Investment Banking, Products & Advice, Legal, and Finance. The Financial Services Industry and investment firms are highly regulated. Risk and Compliance are roles
I never knew existed before my career began. There are many roles in these areas, and most pay well. Examples of roles within risk management include Financial Risk Manager, Product Risk, Technology Risk, and Credit Risk. For example, a Credit Analyst might oversee whether or not a client is taking on too much debt.
For me, this role was in the Investment Risk department, but these analytical roles exist in all areas of the industry. There are many roles that revolve around analyzing data to report to management. That is common in areas that have anything to do with traditional finance.
Generally, the more entry-level roles are about data mining and reporting. As you progress, however, you will need to have analytical skills.
The basic qualifications are experience or education with data. SQL is helpful, but tools are replacing the need to master it.
There is so much financial data to analyze. I recommend this as one of the best finance career paths in finance.
Product Managers are in many areas. Product Managers are responsible for either investment products or applications and tools that Financial Advisors and Planners leverage.
A Product Manager in an Advice & Research department partners with stakeholders to determine firm financial advice on subjects like: “Maxing out a 401k?” or “asset allocation.”
This role focused on managing a $100M program to evolve the firm’s investment advisory offerings. I managed project managers and the financial management of the program.
I was responsible for the budgeting, financial modeling, financial reporting, and overall administration of the program. I did not do the forecasting, but I did oversee it.
As long as money exists, our world will need financial professionals to manage it. From experience as an insider at two different financial firms, I know the fastest-growing roles. Compliance, Risk Management, Product Management, Data Science, AI/Machine Learning, and Analytics are hot areas right now.
Knowing what I know now about salaries and industry trends, I would focus on these areas if I were in college. Plus, until our society does a better job teaching kids about money, we will need to lean on financial professionals for guidance.
Most career paths for financial professionals are either a) finance/accounting at any company or b) positions at financial services firms that require varying degrees of financial knowledge.
There is much opportunity with both. Within option a), there is potential upward movement in the company or the ability to move between companies. Within option b), there is the opportunity to move around from division to division.
The point is that career paths can have unexpected roads to turn down. They don’t need to be the path you drew up. I have always believed that if you become what you said you wanted to become career-wise, it means you didn’t learn anything along the way. That’s not always true, but so often, it is.
Agile-related positions are gaining momentum. I spent 22 years of my career at two larger financial services firms, and both are shifting to a more agile operating approach. This agile approach was brought from the tech ecosystem and prioritizes small yet diverse purpose-built teams that work autonomously.
This is a big trend and a massive opportunity for those who are positioned for it since most people with agile management experience do not have a finance background, while most people in finance are not familiar with agile.
Financial Services has so many career paths that any skills and traits make someone a good fit. The challenge is realizing which all positions even exist.
Everyone is aware of the stereotypical Finance positions such as Financial Analyst, Accounting, Research, etc. But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what exists. Portability, adaptability, and desire to learn are excellent traits for anyone in any career. Interpersonal skills are also helpful.
Finance is a good career path because there is so much opportunity. There are opportunities even if you don’t know much about finance or investing.
In my 22+ years in Financial Services, I noticed three core factors that impact someone’s salary.
In financial services, certifications are where I have seen the highest return on investment. Certified Financial Planners and Chartered Financial Analysts are significant designations to have. I am a CFA.
Each time I took it (it consisted of 3 tough exams), I received a significant pay boost. A Chartered Financial Analyst or Certified Financial Planner designation is not only credible letters to have behind your name, but studying for them legitimately increases your knowledge base. This knowledge shortens your learning curve. I am a big advocate of both.
To a lesser extent (in Financial Services), different FINRA licenses are helpful. I held several, but they are not as valuable as a CFP or CFA.
A Certified Public Accountant also opens up many doors in accounting and finance. A CPA was a common designation for senior management.
The return on investment of these designations is also considerably higher than a Finance Degree (especially a Master’s Degree).
It depends on what the advanced degree is. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is typical. An Advanced Degree in data-related fields is highly impactful.
Someone interested in being a generalist should pursue an MBA. Many of the people I worked with had an MBA vs. those that did not have two noticeable advantages: they were better at public speaking and had a better network.
Many finance jobs that people readily think of are also competitive. It may be because so many other positions in finance are not widely known. That may impact the work-life balance of job seekers focused on the popular roles in the finance industry like securities analyst, investment analyst, and investment banker.
During my career in finance, I earned the same salary as these more popular positions but worked fewer hours and did not have a major in finance.
Finance is a great career path if you understand how many career paths exist in finance. This article only touched on a few. There are also roles in Marketing, Communications, Legal, Financial Advisor Development, Human Resources, Recruiting, etc. None of these require expertise in finance.
This article also didn’t even touch on all of the finance careers in public accounting, financial accounting, accounts payable, payroll, auditing, or sales. It is also rewarding knowing that you are helping financial advisors help clients with their money.
Cha Ching Queen -
Joining a mission
I joined Standard Chartered Bank as a summer intern at just 18. When I joined as a graduate, I settled into the fast-paced world of capital markets sales. Four years in, I made a leap to pursue a mission-driven career in Sustainable Finance, where I now lead a team that focuses on new product innovation. I have been lucky enough to be involved in the Bank’s sustainability work for the past 8 years, notably its landmark contribution to preventable blindness, Seeing is Believing. With my inspirational friend and ex-colleague David Fein as Chair, surrounded by an amazing team, between 2003 to 2020, my colleagues raised over US$104 million to prevent and cure blindness for 250 million people across our footprint.
A problem in plain sight
Investing in eye health is one of the most effective and proven solutions for unlocking human potential. Over 1 billion people live with poor vision that could be corrected today. Poor vision is linked to lower educational attainment, lower general health and wellbeing, higher numbers of road traffic accidents, and lower productivity. These can all be fixed by something as simple as a pair of glasses, and this can really unlock people’s future potential.
The case for support for eye health is clear. It is also clear that philanthropy alone cannot solve the need. That is why my Standard Chartered is dedicating time to developing products that not only fund solutions to eye health, and other global issues, but provide financial returns to investors.
A new approach
Off the back of Seeing is Believing and the incredible work of the The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, the Vision Catalyst Fund (VCF) was established. Standard Chartered is a founding partner alongside other leading actors including EssilorLuxottica.
The Vision Catalyst Fund’s aim is to raise millions of dollars of new money to provide permanent access to eye health for all, bringing together the private sector, governments, NGOs and non-eye health actors to achieve scale. We will use finance differently, raising new resources through co-investment and innovative financial tools.
Social Impact Guarantee
The first example of this innovation at work is the Vision Catalyst Fund’s partnership with Tri-Sector Associates, the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Santen Pharmaceuticals to develop a new financial product – an eye health Social Impact ensure to raise $25 million for eye health programmes in Asia and Africa.
A Social Impact ensure operates like insurance. Donors pay premiums to a Guarantor who backs investment should the outcomes of the programme not be met. We will launch multiple Social Impact Guarantees, pooling the premiums to fund additional programmes.
The pilot will focus on a school-based eye health programme in Vietnam, with Santen as a founding guarantor. As a Trustee, I bring Standard Chartered’s technical expertise to the project.
Be part of the movement
I think it is important to say, social finance is a means to an end, with the goal being to bring vision to over 1 billion people within a generation. The Social Impact ensure and other similar products only have value if they can Improve the lives of as many people as possible through access to vision care.
The ambition of the VCF is also to provide another proof point for the role of social finance in solving the world’s biggest problems. This means being dedicated to learning, not as an end itself but to provide impetus to behaviour change in the entire sustainability ecosystem.
The challenge of achieving universal eye health calls for wide-ranging expertise and perspectives. This includes non-traditional participants. If you think you could be part of this, we welcome your collaboration.
P2P (peer-to-peer) payments are a simple way to send or receive money, without going through a traditional bank. P2P payments have become so synonymous with simple payments that most people just say "Venmo me". Whether you're paying a babysitter or settling up a lost golf bet (something we know nothing about), P2P payments have become commonplace.
We have discussed the opportunity we see with PayPal's Venmo platform (click here). We stated that PayPal's ultimate goal was to gain physical PoS (point of sale) acceptance, with more and more consumers downloading and adopting its Venmo payment app. That is slowly occurring, but most brick-and-mortar merchants still don't accept PayPal and Venmo.
We haven't written about the equivalent payment platform for the banks - Zelle. It started in late 2017, as a payment project for big banks to compete with fintech start-ups like PayPal's Venmo. Now, Zelle reaches roughly 80% of US checking accounts and the network claims to have 10,000-member financial institutions in its network. Zelle is a bank-owned network, essentially run by its Early Warning Services (known as EWS) group. EWS is owned and operated by Bank of America, Truist, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, US Bank and Wells Fargo and it acts as Zelle's operator and payment network provider.
During its five years of existence, Zelle has processed over 5 billion transactions and nearly $1.5 trillion of dollar volume. On average, each transaction is about $275, which is much, much higher than the typical PayPal or Venmo P2P transaction size. Many small businesses are accepting payments through Zelle, as evidenced by their +162% dollar payment growth in 2021. Consumers and businesses sent 1.8 billion payments through Zelle, up an impressive +49% YoY. Last year, Zelle did $490 billion of transactions (up +59% YoY) which is more than 2x what was conducted on Venmo (statistics per American Banker).
The CEO of Zelle (and Early Warning Services) is Al Ko and he sees Zelle as competing with cash and checks transactions, offering greater speed and immediacy of older payment methods. For Ko, he views Zelle as "digital cash" and he expects card-based payments to continue to "rule the roost." From its inception, a key concept for Zelle's success has been this concept of trust and knowing that your bank stands behind your transactions. The early marketing campaigns centered on the safety and security of Zelle, your traditional bank's way of paying for things, as compared to the "wild west" of unknown and scary online payment platforms. In one of its earliest marketing campaigns, actor and rapper Daveed Diggs says, "You can send money safely, 'cause that's what it's for, and it's backed by the banks, so you know it's secure." This marketing angle was intentional and tried to piggyback on one of the keys to the massive growth and success of credit cards; consumers are protected from fraud. A key reason for the success of credit cards is that financial institutions act as backstops, protecting consumers from fraudulent transactions.
Recently, Bank of America was sued from fraud associated with its P2P platform and for it failing to refund consumers that were taken advantage of. It isn't just large financial institutions that are at risk, but smaller banks have also suffered from rising fraud levels. A recent study by PMNTS found that 71% of all financial institutions reported increased fraud rates and an average loss of 1.75 basis points per transaction. That same study found that 59% of financial institutions surveyed experienced an uptick in fraud, with fraud loss rates averaging 1.29 basis points per transaction. These types of losses might seem trivial, since they are reported in basis points, but one needs to understand it is happening on millions of transactions and billions of dollars of transactions.
Over the last few months, fraud on Zelle's platform has garnered some significant governmental questions. In 2021, Zelle stated that its consumer losses due to fraud were only $440 million and that the first half of 2021 it had just 192,878 cases of fraud loss. However, The New York Times has reported that 17 million Americans in 2020 were victims of fraud on their digital wallets or P2P apps. According to Insider Intelligence, US losses from fraudulent transactions will hit over $12 billion next year. Card-not-present payments (i.e., eCommerce and online transactions) are expected to equal $8.75 billion in the US, up over +11.3% from last year. Clearly, fraud is an issue that needs further examination.
Now, the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) is looking into this issue and has stated that it will shortly issue regulations and commentary on the matter. Specifically, the CFPB asked questions about "the rise of increasingly sophisticated scams on your (Zelle's) platform and the widely documented difficulties consumers have faced in seeking relief from banks… we seek to understand the extent to which Zelle allows fraud to flourish and the steps your company is taking to increase consumer protection and help users recover lost funds." Then, politicians from both parties lambasted Zelle for failing to protect their banking customers. At those DC hearings last month, Senator Warren (Democrat from Massachusetts) said that she worries Zelle fraud and theft "are rampant" and that it is failing to "root out disturbing reports of a rise in fraud." She then chastised Wells Fargo by saying that it has a "long and sordid history of misbehavior and mistreatment of its customers." Lastly, Senator Warren then threatened the big banks and said, "the big banks (who both own and partner with Zelle) have abdicated responsibility for fraudulent transactions, leaving consumers with no way to get back their funds." Ouch!
The American Bankers Association, Bank Policy Institute, Consumer Bankers Association, and The Clearing House issued a joint statement acknowledging that Zelle "is not free of fraud and scams" but claims the CFPB commentary and scrutiny "fail to acknowledge that 99.9% of the 5 billion transactions processed on the Zelle network (over the past five years) were sent without any report of fraud or scams."
Zelle draws a sharp distinction between the two different types of P2P fraud. The first is unauthorized transactions, where a fraudster gets into your bank account and makes a transaction. This type of fraud has been fairly rare and uncommon, but it is covered under Regulation E of the EFTA (Electronic Fund Transfer Act). The EFTA provides liability protections for unauthorized transactions, but not for authorized transactions. This essentially means that a bank is required to repay customers when funds are illegally taken out of their account - without their specific authorization.
If a victim did not authorize a transaction, then the theft is fraud; the victim can usually be reimbursed. However, it is a different story if the victim acts on instructions from a scammer. On Zelle's website, it specifically states that "if you were tricked or persuaded into authorizing a payment for a good or service someone said they were going to provide, but they didn't fulfill it, this would be considered a scam." Zelle states that because you authorized that payment, you may not be able to get your money back.
The more common types of fraud are scams, cons, and deceptions. This is where the consumer authorizes a payment, but it turns out to have been a mistake or scam. The only way to protect against these fraudulent transactions is by education, information and somehow adding "smart friction points" to a transaction, that makes a user stop and think before pressing send. We receive weekly notifications from our banks about how we can avoid becoming a victim of P2P fraud, so we know this issue is painful.
We have spent decades in the payment space and find these new tricks by thieves to be devilishly ingenious and quite sophisticated. While AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning technologies can help institutions track and combat fraud, the fraudsters always seem to be one step ahead. Want an example of this type of fraud? Well, let's say you receive a text on your iPhone from Bank of America or your traditional bank. It claims to be protecting you from fraud and it inquires if you authorized a $500 Zelle transaction. Since you didn't make this authorization, you want to protect yourself from fraud and notify your bank that it isn't legit. Next, you receive a phone call from the scammer, spoofed onto a Bank of America phone line, that walks you through the process of prohibiting this fraudulent transaction. The unsuspecting consumer receives a set of instructions that ultimately compromises their bank account information. The fraudsters have all the information they need to now withdraw funds from the individual's bank account.
Politicians are looking to shield victims of fraudulent money transfers, even when they have been "induced" into transferring funds themselves. Banks believe they have no obligation to return money to their fleeced customers, as long as the users authenticated the transfers themselves.
What happens if the liability protections are extended, and fraudsters can authorize valid transactions? How can a bank prevent its users from authorizing transfers? Is the goal to enact new and helpful legislation, or is to further regulate the big banks?
If the CFPB institutes an expansion of bank liability, we imagine Zelle would scale back services, limit certain features and impose fees to cover their additional costs. These potential changes could result in service fees for users and/or the implementation of holds on certain-sized P2P payments. So much for us being able to pay out our $20 lost golf bets on Venmo?!?
Warren Fisher, CFA
Founder and CEO
Manole Capital Management
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Veranda Learning Solutions announced it is acquiring chartered accountancy (CA) test-prep provider JK Shah Education Pvt Ltd through its wholly owned subsidiary Veranda XL Learning Solutions.
In a regulatory filing, the Chennai-based edtech platform said the transaction will be completed in two phases, with the payment of 76 per cent of the outstanding capital in the first phase. The transaction will be funded through a combination of debt and equity.
“This acquisition is a crucial breakthrough into high-demand courses such as CA, as well as a bouquet of financial and commerce courses. We believe, with Veranda’s strength and technological capabilities coupled with JK Shah Classes’ strong brand recognition and legacy, we will both reach greater heights in the coming years,” Kalpathi S Suresh, Chairman and Executive Director, Veranda Learning Solutions, said in the release.
He added that Veranda will help establish JK Shah Classes’ presence in the south, north and east of India, along with strengthening its online and hybrid offering.
Headquartered in Mumbai, JK Shah Classes is a leading coaching institute for CA, CS, and CMA course aspirants for the last 39 years. It currently operates through 75 centres in 39 cities. Prof JK Shah will remain Chairman for Life on the board and guide the growth strategy of the company.
JK Shah Classes has been coaching around 90,000 students each year and has produced 1,870 CA rankers since 2001 and 214 CS rankers since 2016. Notable alumni include industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, and Kotak AMC MD Nilesh Shah.
The acquisition “will allow us to leverage their technological prowess and deep network to further strengthen JK Shah Classes’ network and offerings. This is a step forward in our journey and will help us provide offerings across different modalities”, JK Shah was quoted in the release.
The release added that Pooja Shah and Vishal Shah will continue to lead the day-to-day operations as chief operating officers.
ACCA Chief Executive, Helen Brand OBE, meets His Majesty's Deputy Trade Commissioner, Southeast Asia, Sam Myers, to strengthen partnerships in the region, support regional connectivity, and drive sustainability.
Helen Brand OBE, Chief Executive, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and His Majesty's Deputy Trade Commissioner, Southeast Asia, Sam Myers, met to strengthen the ongoing partnership between ACCA and Department for International Trade (DIT) and support talent mobility in the region.
Around 20 percent of ACCA students and members are based in the Asia Pacific region, and the ACCA professional qualification is widely recognised and trusted by employers.
Commenting on the role of ACCA in the region, Helen Brand said: 'We're committed to supporting and helping build the strong and resilient economies the region needs through qualified finance professionals working in the public interest. The accountancy profession plays an essential role in transforming business models to deliver an ethical, more equitable, green and inclusive future. It's through collaboration and connection with the DIT and others that we can make real progress in supporting key national and regional economic and education agendas.'
Helen was also accompanied by ACCA's regional director Pulkit Abrol and country manager Daniel Leung FCCA.
Sam Myers, His Majesty's Deputy Trade Commissioner, Southeast Asia, added: 'It was a pleasure to meet with the ACCA team in Singapore again and to support their ambitious plans for building even deeper partnerships in Southeast Asia. Accountancy is a vital sector for thriving and sustainable economies, particularly in this dynamic region with its rapidly expanding financial services market.
'Last year, financial services accounted for 17.6% of UK services exports to ASEAN, worth some 1.5 billion. With our world-leading financial sector, I believe the UK's close partnership with Southeast Asia will only grow stronger through the efforts of organisations like ACCA.'
The meeting took place during Helen Brand's recent visit to Singapore to meet leaders from both the private and public sectors* to explore how to further enhance cooperation among stakeholders in advancing the profession.
ACCA is the world's leading body for professional accountants, with a thriving global community of 241,000 members and 542,000 future members based in 178 countries. ACCA has a rich history and strong presence in Singapore and has contributed immensely to the development of the accountancy profession in the country. The first ACCA exams were sat as early as the 1930s. Today ACCA works closely with over 200 employers in Singapore across various industries under its approved employer programme.
*Meetings included the Ministry of Finance, the leadership of Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC), Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants.
We're a thriving global community of 241,000 members and 542,000 future members based in 178 countries and regions, who work across a wide range of sectors and industries. We uphold the highest professional and ethical values.
We offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. Our qualifications and learning opportunities develop strategic business leaders, forward-thinking professionals with the financial, business and digital expertise essential for the creation of sustainable organisations and flourishing societies.
Since 1904, being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. In December 2020, we made commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals which we are measuring and will report on in our annual integrated report.
We believe that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society and is vital helping economies, organisations and individuals to grow and prosper. It does this by creating robust trusted financial and business management, combating corruption, ensuring organisations are managed ethically, driving sustainability, and providing rewarding career opportunities.
And through our cutting-edge research, we lead the profession by answering today's questions and preparing for the future. We're a not-for-profit organisation. Find out more at accaglobal.com
Photo - https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/1918160/Group_photo___ACCA_and_DIT.jpg
By Owen Wheatley, Lead Partner for Banking & Financial Services, ISG (www.isg-one.com), a global technology research and advisory firm
The metaverse presents exciting opportunities for banks when it comes to customer experience and managing transactions.
It will go beyond existing digital banking opportunities to create an immersive experience using technology like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) – in addition to other technologies such as blockchain and NFTs.
It will revolutionise the way banks engage with their customers, both in the products they offer and the new marketplaces they can explore. Given the demographics of likely metaverse users, it also has great potential to reach new customer segments.
Financial services companies are already starting to explore the metaverse
In December 2021, Bloomberg Intelligence predicted that the metaverse “revenue opportunity” could be worth $800bn as early as 2024.
We’re seeing financial institutions take their first steps towards banking in the metaverse.
JP Morgan, for example, has its Onyx lounge in Decentraland, an open-world metaverse environment built on the Ethereum blockchain. Spain’s CaixaBank also has a version of its imaginCafé there.
HSBC and Standard Chartered have purchased virtual land in a metaverse environment called The Sandbox.
To avoid disintermediation, card providers are also exploring opportunities, with American Express filing patents to provide metaverse payment services, for example.
This is just the beginning of the metaverse journey for traditional retail banks, which are starting to think about how they can use the metaverse to achieve business goals (such as customer experience and service). But first, they need to understand what the metaverse is, how it works and how financial services can play a role. They need to know about the platforms, technologies and ecosystems in play and how they can use them to shape a metaverse strategy that has customer experience at its core.
How will the metaverse revolutionise retail banking?
While the introduction of so many new technologies will be disruptive to traditional retail banks, they’re also a massive opportunity. As cryptocurrencies become more mainstream and people want to trade digital assets as easily as they do physical ones, they’ll need banking services that facilitate and protect their transactions.
The metaverse will allow banks to differentiate themselves in several ways. Here are three core services that retail banks may want to think about, and how the metaverse could enhance them.
As the metaverse becomes more mainstream and more consumers start to use it, those consumers will start to need financial products and services designed with the metaverse in mind.
Younger generations already spend a lot of time playing games and socialising digitally. As more of them start to embrace NFTs and the metaverse, they’ll likely be more predisposed to using virtual goods and buy digital assets.
The metaverse will allow retail banks to reach new customer segments like creators, gamers and creatives who are creating multiple sources of income for themselves and looking for help – like instant loans – from banks as they seek to Improve their presence in the metaverse.
One emerging strategy for retail banks is to create educational experiences and engage and connect with customers by setting up virtual lobbies and displaying demos on financial wellness and planning. Quontic Bank has started doing this in Decentraland, for example.
As well as providing the needed metaverse-specific products and services, we could see banks developing virtual world platforms – allowing their customers to seamlessly complete transactions between physical and virtual worlds.
We’re already seeing financial services companies develop metaverse-specific products. For example, TerraZero Technologies claims to offer the first-ever metaverse mortgage for customers who are looking to buy virtual real estate. This “virtual land grab” is one of the hottest trends we see within the metaverse.
Decentralised finance (DeFi) facilitates borrowing and lending of cryptocurrency against collateral (which could be an NFT or blockchain token-based digital asset). As more consumers and organisations join the metaverse, we’ll see more decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) make the metaverse increasingly accessible – creating fairer ways to invest in and monetise digital assets. Again, this kind of ethical investment environment is likely to appeal to younger customers.
Banks are also considering supporting digital payments by launching credit or debit cards that customers can use to make secure payments in the metaverse. They could also allow for secure lending against NFT assets and help facilitate the metaverse real estate market.
Retail banks, like all financial institutions, are looking for innovative ways to attract and retain talent now that hybrid and remote working models are becoming the norm.
Immersive technologies like AR and VR will become standard ways to foster creative, collaborative and inclusive environments for employees. We’re already seeing personalised avatars, for example. These will include services like Microsoft Mesh for Teams and Meta’s Horizon Workrooms.
The metaverse will offer a great way for retail banks to provide an engaging employee experience and promote a general feeling of ‘togetherness’. It will help attract and retain talent as well as offer new ways to train employees through virtualisation and gamification.
We could even see on-demand, AI-powered digital coaches training employees and providing interactive and immersive metaverse-based learning experiences.
Bank of America already offers immersive and engaging training using VR, where employees can learn via scenarios played out in a simulated environment.
It is clear that the metaverse will provide banks powerful new ways to connect with their customers. Right now, it might be hard to imagine the benefits that banks and customers could gain from this new virtual world– it’s still in its very early stages, and a lot of people remain sceptical of its potential. The truth is, we don’t yet know the full potential of the metaverse (in the same way we didn’t really know the full potential of the internet in its very early days).
However, now is the time to start thinking about it and planning for success. We’re already seeing financial institutions taking calculated risks by innovating in this area. Banks that start thinking about metaverse products and services now will find themselves in a very competitive position by the time consumers are ready to fully embrace this brave new world.
Open banking, the practice of sharing third-party access to financial data through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) within data privacy rules is gradually gaining prominence in Africa, which still grapples with several pain points in payments.
“Open banking brings the needed agility by fintechs to provide multiple services across borders. It allows you to send money from the US to Malawi as well as pay for your electricity, water, or home internet bills. These APIs enhance contactless payments, further pushing down the cost of transactions,” Willie Kanyeki, east and southern Africa regional manager at UK-based fintech Terrapay told Quartz during this year’s Seamless Africa fintech summit in Nairobi on Oct. 4.
Several startups are already investing on the frontier fintech concept and innovations around it. Last month a McKinsey study projected that Africa’s e-payments market will see revenues grow by 20% per year, hitting $40 billion by 2025. The global open banking market amassed a revenue of $13.9 billion in 2020, and is expected to hit $123.7 billion by 2031.
With 57% of Africa’s adult population still underbanked, and many lacking access to affordable credit, the sharing of APIs among banks, fintechs, and mobile money providers, according to fintech experts, presents a huge opportunity for the continent to expand financial inclusion to the rural areas.
Through open banking, Kanyeki says Terrapay has reduced cross-border remittance costs from 7% to 3% is some countries, and has expanded its portfolio to 4.5 billion bank accounts and over 1.5 billion mobile wallets.
Nairobi-based Solve Kenya, a subsidiary of Standard Chartered bank, which has utilized open banking in the past five months to provide over 800 small and medium sized businesses access to credit, believes the era of waiting for days for a business loan to be approved is long gone.
“Yes, we use these APIs and machine learning to make the process faster—a maximum of 50 minutes—while eliminating any loopholes for fraud. We have disbursed $1 million and the adoption is high because the APIs have reduced the cost of access to credit by up to 3%. We protect client private data and we have also have integrated zero trust cybersecurity to our platform,” CEO Sheila Omukuba tells Quartz.
Kenya’s central bank gave open banking a green light in 2020 paving the way for Cooperative Bank of Kenya to pioneer the new business landscape, integrating its systems with 12 APIs to reach more customers.
IBM’s Middle east and Africa general manager Saad Toma tells Quartz that open banking creates new revenue streams for financial institutions while creating value for customers through digital personalized financial services experiences. “This is all possible by making data available for regulated providers to access, use and share and allows customers to seamlessly interact with multiple forms of personal finance and payment service providers,” Toma explains.
IBM says it is currently working with Ethiopian bank Dashen to modernize its cloud integration architecture and enhance its open banking experiences with fintechs, neo-banks, corporates, and telecom partners to Improve customer experiences. “In southern Africa, we have partnered with Bank Zero to deliver an open-source based banking platform that offers fast, easy, and continuous banking services to digital customers,” Toma says.
South African open finance platform truID allows users to securely access consumer financial data from all major banks in the country, with its CEO Paris Valakelis telling Disrupt Africa that “open banking is a movement already in motion and one that’s picking up pace, eventually, it will become a unified open data framework, encompassing all consumer data safely and securely.”
Stitch, also South African, has developed an API that allows developers to connect apps to financial accounts within minutes. There are now six South African banks offering open banking services.
Nigerian startups OnePipe, which aggregates APIs from banks and fintechs into a unified gateway, and Mono which builds open banking infrastructure for banks, are driving the revolution in the country and believe that all financial service providers should allow for free API integrations for inclusion to work in Africa. In May, Nigeria’s central bank laid down guidelines for open banking in the country.
Morocco’s CIH Bank has been working with Finastra, an open banking fintech to digitize its services so customers can access them on a mobile app while improving customer experience and generating more revenue.
Tanzania’s most notable pioneer of open banking is NMB Bank, which launched the country’s first fintech sandbox in October 2021 to allow fintechs to access banking APIs meant to make payments faster. CEO Ruth Zaipuna says the sandbox “allows startups to experiment, test, and pre-certify integration with our banking services.”
Banks in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Malawi are also betting big on APIs to entrench WhatsApp banking, which is meant to make sending and receiving money as easy and fast as chatting on WhatsApp. Open banking is also active in Uganda, Egypt, and Ghana.
However, the continent has the world’s lowest internet speed, many people still rely on feature phones, internet penetration is low, and some countries even censor it.
Some legacy banks are also not ready to open their APIs to fintechs or share customer data with competitors. The lack of regulation is also crippling attempts to make the concept mainstream, as only two countries in Africa—Kenya and South Africa—have a data privacy and protection law.
“One of the hardest things about open banking is that we are asked [as customers] to share more data, in an age where privacy is more valued,” says Richard Dent, founder of Finger Finance, a California-based online lending startup.
Andrew Ma, chief operating officer of South Africa’s Stitch says though Africa is ready for the revolution “most regulatory regimes continue to treat third-party open banking players as security and exposure risks, and warn consumers against use of products enabled by them.”
But Africa’s informal economy, which accounts for almost 90% of the economy, remains a prime space for open banking innovation, offering players the chance to provide safe, secure, and innovative financial services to the 370 million unbanked consumers. A reduced cost of mobile internet is expected to raise financial inclusion in Africa and Improve the continent’s GDP by 30%.
ACCORDING to Savills Impact Report 2018, real estate is the world’s largest asset class worth an estimated US$280.6 trillion. Contrary to popular belief, a career in real estate is much more than just transacting properties.
The real estate lifecycle starts with initial investment decisions, leading to valuations and transactions, planning and design work, followed by construction, property management, maintenance and asset management.
Consequently, the real estate industry offers many different opportunities and career pathways that include:
> Real estate investment
> Property and asset management> Capital markets
> Commercial and retail property leasing
> Project and development services
> Advisory and consulting
> City and urban planning
Real estate professionals are employed by property developers, institutional investors, property services consultancies, financial institutions, asset management firms and government agencies. Experienced real estate professionals can consider establishing their own business.
Furthermore, the global nature of the real estate industry means that talented real estate professionals have excellent career prospects not only within Malaysia, but globally as well.
Real Estate and Planning at Henley Business School, which is part of the University of studying in the UK, has a long and established reputation. The university is ranked No.1 for “Land & Property Management” according to the 2023 Complete University Guide Subject Ranking.
Students on the BSc Real Estate programme develop knowledge and skills in areas such as finance, economics, planning, law, valuation and management, which is specific to the real estate industry.
Study at the Malaysia campus
As an alternative to studying in the UK, students in Malaysia have the opportunity to study Real Estate at the university’s international branch campus in EduCity Iskandar. In doing so, students save an estimated 60% of the costs versus studying at the UK campus, and receive exactly the same University of studying degree following the same curriculum and academic quality standards.
Students in Malaysia benefit from an excellent learning ecosystem. The modern, state-of-the-art campus located in EduCity, Iskandar Johor, has excellent facilities including IT-enabled classrooms, a large lecture theatre, computer labs, a Learning Resource Centre (LRC) and fast Wi-Fi. Students will find the campus a conducive environment not only for study but also for chilling out with friends.
Furthermore, students in Malaysia can also take advantage of the flexible options which allows them to spend the second, and even third and final year, at the university’s studying UK campus.
Excellent industry-preparedness and employabilityThe BSc Real Estate programme offered in Malaysia is closely aligned with the relevant industry and professional standards.
The programme carries the distinction of being one of the very few programmes with professional recognition in Malaysia (with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers Malaysia), the UK (with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Singapore (with the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers).
These recognitions are particularly valuable given the global nature of the real estate industry and the opportunities to develop an international career.
Furthermore, the programme boasts an exceptional employability record, with graduates undertaking work placements and starting their careers in established firms such as Knight Frank, Savills, JLL, CBRE | WTW, Hartamas Real Estate Group and Sunway Group. In fact, the majority of students secure job offers even before graduation.
n For more information, visit www.reading.edu.my/henley and provide them a follow on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ uniofreadingmalaysia) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/uniofreadingmalaysia/). For a one-to-one consultation or to arrange a campus visit, call or WhatsApp Sam +601-6723 5300 or Joyce +601-6721 5400. Email email@example.com or visit University of studying Malaysia, Persiaran Graduan, Kota Ilmu, EduCity, 79200 Iskandar Puteri, Johor, Malaysia.
Chennai-based public-listed edtech company Veranda Learning Solutions has signed a definitive agreement to acquire equity shares of CA test-prep provider JK Shah Education (JK Shah Classes) through its wholly owned subsidiary Veranda XL Learning Solutions, it said on Thursday.
The transaction will be completed in two phases, with the first phase seeing the payment of 76% of the outstanding capital together for Rs 337.82 crore. The entire transaction will be funded through a combination of debt and equity.
JK Shah Classes currently operates 75 centres across 39 cities and is headquartered in Mumbai. JK Shah will continue to remain as chairman for life on the board. Pooja Shah and Vishal Shah will continue to lead day-to-day operations as chief operating officers.
Kalpathi S Suresh, chairman and executive director, Veranda Learning Solutions, said, “This acquisition is a crucial breakthrough into high-demand courses such as Chartered Accountancy as well as a bouquet of financial and commerce courses. We believe with Veranda’s strength and technological capabilities coupled with J K Shah Classes’ strong brand recognition and legacy, we will both reach greater heights in the coming years…”
JK Shah said: “I am pleased to announce our coming together with Veranda Learning Solutions. This will allow us to leverage their technological prowess and deep network to further strengthen J K Shah Classes’ network and offerings…” InCredMAPE and KPMG were the buy side advisors while InCorp Advisory was the sell side advisor for the deal.
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