What is an NCFM Certification?
NCFM certification is offered by the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE). The full form of NCFM is, NSE Academy Certification in Financial Markets – though now, the NSE offers a wide range of Certifications, not limited to Financial Markets.
The NCFM modules currently comprise 11 Foundation, 21 Intermediate, and 15 Advanced certifications. You need to clear the relevant exam, at any of NSE’s testing centres, to earn the certification.
Right! Now that we know about that, the second question is: Why should you take NCFM Certifications?
What is the value or scope of NCFM Certifications?
Here are some key points:
– A recognised, short-term certificate is a MUST on your CV. There is absolutely no two ways about it. NCFM certifications are one of the most recognised players here. Any company in financial services is well aware of the value of NCFM Certifications.
– The certifications are cost-effective. Given that the exam fee is INR 2006 (inclusive of GST), if you just want to write an exam (not undergo any training), that’s what it’ll cost you. Plus, there are exam centres all over India, so it’s convenient, too.
– There is a wide range of certifications offered – which gives you a plethora of options to choose from, as per your expertise and domain of interest.
– It is easy and quick: Many of the NCFM certifications are easy to pass. Also, you can take the exams multiple times (by paying the fee each time), to pass or improve your score. This point is both a positive and a negative – because the easy ones aren’t always the best ones to take!
It is important to note, that these are not regulatory certifications – that is, they are not mandated by the Regulator (SEBI/RBI). However, some companies may require their employees to complete one or more relevant certifications. Especially if you are aiming for a career in stock markets, then an NCFM Certification is a valuable addition.
NCFM Examination Details:
As mentioned earlier, the NCFM exam is divided into three broad categories which include the Foundation, Intermediate, and Advanced modules. Each module is designed to cater to a specific level of expertise that the candidate has.
The process to enrol for the NCFM examinations is easy. The process is as follow:
The tests are conducted throughout the year on weekdays except on public holidays. The test date cannot be changed and a new slot (with fee) will have to be booked if a change is required.
All the NCFM test centres are listed in this link: https://www.nseindia.com/content/ncfm/ncfm_testlocations.pdf
The NSE has set no specific eligibility criteria for the certification. Anyone interested in getting certified can take the exams. Candidates are only required to have some working knowledge of computers and fluency in English since the tests are conducted online and in English. However, a few basic modules are also conducted in Gujarati and Hindi to expand outreach.
The pattern of the NCFM Certification exams is multiple choice questions. While most of the examinations have a passing grade of 50%, some of them require the user to score a minimum of 60%.
The number of questions and the duration of the tests , also differ across modules. However, a majority of the tests consist of 60 questions with two hours to complete them.
A few modules of the NCFM exams have negative marking and hence should be attempted very carefully.
The validity of most of the certifications is five years. However, a few modules related to more dynamically changing fields have a validity of three years.
All of these examination details for each specific module are given in this link: https://www.nseindia.com/education/content/module_ncfm.htm
NCFM Proficiency Certifications:
Apart from regular certifications for the modules, the NSE also provides NCFM Proficiency Certifications for candidates who have cleared multiple modules. The proficiency certifications usually have a higher weightage over the others and the candidates holding them are given a higher preference in the market.
The different proficiency certifications and their qualifying criteria are listed below:
How to choose the best NCFM certification for you?
Not all NCFM certifications are equal!
Let’s approach this, from two angles: one, the type of certification to take and second, the topic of the certification you should choose.
As mentioned, many of the NCFM certifications are easy. The curriculum is basic and pretty theoretical. You get a pdf document when you register, you read it, write the exam, and pass. That also means, your learning is limited. When you’re interviewing, if the interviewer asks you questions from that area, you’re likely to falter. That’s doom! Here’s an example: https://www.nseindia.com/content/ncfm/course_fmbm.pdf
– typical real life questions you can be asked are: ‘What is the NIFTY?’, ‘If the NIFTY/SENSEX has gone up by 100 points, what does it mean’? ‘How can an Indian company raise money overseas’? Well, you can see that the coverage of this module, will not help.
So, look for the certification programs, which also offer associated training – whether online or classroom. It may cost a few thousand rupees more, but when it comes to your career, you cannot be penny wise and pound foolish! Compare the above outline, with this one: https://www.learnwithflip.com/programs/flip-ncfm-capital-markets-fundamentals-international
Which one is more likely to help in an interview for your job? That’s what you need to think about and go for.
Now, when it comes to which topic to choose, it depends on whether you’re a student or a working professional. In either case, go for certifications in the Financial Markets area, which is what the NSE is best known for.
If you’re a graduate student or working in a non-Banking/Finance area, with no background in finance, then look for a Fundamental module in Capital Markets (Financial Markets). I’d say the same for a CA as well, because the CA curriculum doesn’t cover Financial Markets.
For an IT/KPO professional or aspirant, the same as above, but you should look for a module which covers the US and UK markets, which is typically what your job will be about – 70%+ of Cognizant and Infosys’ revenues, come from US clients! If you already have some basic background – maybe you’ve done a foundation course in your company – then an Intermediate/Advanced module in Capital Markets (Also in the US, called Investment Banking) Operations, will be a good add-on.
For an IT or KPO professional working in the Banking domain, you can also do a Foundation module, in Banking – again keeping the International flavour in mind.
If you’re an MBA, then skip to the Intermediate or Advanced Modules. At the Intermediate level, the Capital Markets Dealers Module is favoured by many brokerage firms. At the Advanced level, the CFP – if you’re looking for a career in Wealth Management – is a good choice. It is more expensive, but the standard for Financial Planning. The Equity Research module would be great for a role in Brokerages such as IIFL, Anand Rathi, Motilal Oswal, or KPOs such as Crisil, Copal Amba (now Moody’s), Evalueserve, etc.
As a working professional in financial services, you’ll, of course, choose the specific topic/area where you’re looking to move.
So – to summarise, NCFM certifications are a good choice, provided you select one which has a practical coverage and gives you the learning you need. It’s a career move – don’t make your choice based on saving a few bucks. Based on your profile, you should select the ones from the Foundation/ Advanced levels to enhance your employment opportunities.
How to Prepare for NCFM Examinations?
Preparing for the NCFM examination is not difficult. While going in blind is definitely a recipe for a disaster, creating and following a study plan does simplify things.
Time to prepare for NCFM Exams:
A time period of two weeks is recommended for the preparation of the foundation modules. However, for candidates not coming from a maths or basic finance background, this time period might have to be stretched a little. For the intermediate and advanced modules, the preparation time depends on the existing knowledge of the candidate and the module chosen.
Study Material for NCFM Certification preparation:
1. NSE E-Books:
After the successful confirmation of the payment and booking slot, the NSE mails an eBook to the candidate for preparation. While the eBook covers almost all the syllabus of the selected module, it is only good enough to help you score the bare minimum in the examination. Sticking solely to the eBook will not help you fair very well in the exam. It also does not help you prepare for the job interviews that will follow.
To ensure the best possible impact of the exam and certification on your career, it is advisable to leverage external references/training programs for your preparation.
2. NCFM classroom training institutes
A number of institutes around the country provide dedicated training for the NCFM examination. These training institutes provide their own study material and conduct mock tests for candidates to help them get a hold of what they are up for.
Some popular training institutes for NCFM examinations include Delhi Training Courses – ideal for interested candidates based out of Delhi. iPlan Education is another training institute that is present in multiple locations in and around Delhi.
However, training institutes usually have location limitations and require the students to physically attend classes whenever they are scheduled. The classes are often held in batches during specific months of the year. So interested candidates have to wait for a while to join a batch and begin their training.
3. NCFM Online Training
Online training modules combine the best of all the options above to provide candidates with the perfect solution for preparation. These modules are usually self-paced and can be taken up at any time of the year and accessed from any location.
Online training programs, like the ones offered by FLIP, equip you with a detailed practical insight into all the aspects and concepts of capital markets and banking in a very easy to absorb manner. FLIP offers 6 certifications in partnership with NSE in the areas of:
- Market Risk
- Equity Research
- Issue Management
- Banking Fundamentals International
- Capital markets fundamentals International
- Investment Banking Operations International
Candidates preparing for interviews should also be up to date with current affairs related to finance and should read the business section of the newspapers.
When do NCFM Exam Results come out?
Once the test is over, the results are displayed on the screen immediately. The certificates are mailed to the candidates who have successfully passed the examination within 15 to 20 days.
However, the certificates for certain modules like Risk Analysis & Insurance Planning, Retirement Planning & Employee Benefits, Investment Planning, and Tax Planning & Estate Planning are mailed within 30 to 40 days.