As the educational arm of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC), the IFSE Institute is committed to promoting education for people considering a career in the exempt market and for those wanting to learn more about the private capital industry.
In 2016, the IFSE launched the redesigned Exempt Market Proficiency (EMP) Course in collaboration with the Private Capital Markets Association of Canada (PCMA).
The two worked together to update what was previously known as the Exempt Market Products Course to better reflect the changing industry and educational needs of Dealing Representatives in the exempt market.
The PCMA reached out to IFSE Institute managing director Christina Ashmore to get to know what to expect in this revamped course. Ashmore also shares what students can do to excel in this course.
The IFSE and the PCMA redesigned the course in 2016, renaming it as Exempt Market Proficiency (EMP) course. What are the biggest differences of this revamped course from its predecessor?
Christina Ashmore: The course was updated to reflect changes in the exemption rules and significantly expanded to cover off topic areas such as compliance (responsibilities of both representative and dealer), the private placement process, how issuers are structured, mortgage investments, mining, and oil and gas.
One of the biggest differences in the new course is how the final exam is delivered. It’s now a computer-based exam delivered by our partner, Pearson VUE. Students have more options to choose from in terms of dates and locations when scheduling their exam.
Since Pearson VUE has a global network of testing centres, international students can easily participate in our program. Another bonus is that students get a conditional exam status when they complete their exam. The official grade comes back to us and is posted after it is validated. So, students can get a sense right away whether they have passed the exam.
Who can enrol in this course?
Ashmore: The course is open to anyone who wants to register. Students self-register for the course online and they get access to the material immediately after registration. It’s a self-study course so students can study at their own pace.
How long will the course be?
Ashmore: Students have one year from the date of registration to complete the course (i.e. pass the final exam). It’s a self-study course, so whenever a student is ready to write the exam, he or she just schedules the exam date and location that is convenient for him or her.
What are some of the qualities EMP students should have to do well in this course?
Ashmore: Being a self-study course, EMP students must have some self-discipline in getting this done. It is also helpful if they have a background in the financial services industry. Additionally, it is important for them to understand that the exam is application-based. This means that we expect the students to be able to demonstrate application of their knowledge and not just to memorize facts or discuss topics. We believe this is a higher level of testing.
The EMP Examination puts a lot of weight on topics including dealing with clients, structures of issuers, and knowing your client and suitability. What is the rationale behind this?
Ashmore: There’s a greater focus on “client” topics because know your client and suitability are cornerstones of securities regulation. One of the main objectives of regulators is investor protection and they have noted that this has been a problem area that they’ve seen in their reviews. Therefore, we try to highlight to participants in the industry their obligation to investors. We believe that the more clarity we can provide on the subject, the better informed the students will be. This results in better outcomes for investors.
What are the challenges in the exempt markets industry that this course addresses?
Ashmore: I think one of the biggest challenges with the industry is that sometimes there’s a gap between the expectations of the regulators and the industry. We’ve seen more communication coming from the regulators over the last few years that provide guidance on the rules. We try to incorporate that information into the course as well as provide examples and case studies to clarify concepts as much as possible.
What are the advantages of taking this course? Why should people enrol?
Ashmore: For anyone who wants to be registered as a dealing representative with an exempt market dealer, this course will give them a great foundation to start their career and it’s also a proficiency requirement. The course is also a good choice for anyone wanting to learning more about private capital markets, the regulation of the exempt market, the different types of exemptions, and some of the most common types of investments available.