Complete Guide to NISM Certifications:
The post has been articulated in the following manner;
- About NISM Certification
- NISM Certification Modules
- NISM Exam dates, Eligibility & Job Roles
- Why Pursue NISM certifications?
- NISM Exam Format
- NISM Exam Fees
- NISM Results & Passing Rates
- NISM Study Material
- NISM Study Strategies: Before the Exam
- NISM Strategies: During the Exam
- Deferral Policy
About NISM Certification
National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) is a public trust established by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), a regulatory body of securities markets in India. NISM is engaged in the promotion of standards for best practices in the financial industry and knowledge dissemination for market participants.
The School for Certification of Intermediaries (SCI) is one of the six schools of excellence at NISM, engaged in developing and conducting certification programs and Continuing Professional Education (CPE) programs to validate and enhance the capabilities of professionals working in the financial services sector.
These certifications are provided as mandated under SEBI (Certification of Associated Persons in the Securities Markets) Regulation, 2007. During the financial year 2014-2015, a total of 1,07,305 candidates appeared for NISM Certification Examinations in 209 Test Centres located at 161 cities across India.
NISM Certification Modules
NISM offers a number of certification modules through SCI in order to meet the diverse learning needs of finance professionals. These certifications are designed to help finance professionals working in different roles gain an in-depth understanding of financial principles applicable to their specific field of functionality. This, in turn, enables them to better help an average investor in making financial decisions of import.
There are 20 of these certifications offered by NISM which have been listed here for your convenience. Most of these certifications are mandated by SEBI for professionals in relevant job roles. Some of them are voluntary certifications that offer the benefit of advanced knowledge in that specific area but are not mandatory for financial professionals.
We will attempt to describe the content and objectives of these certification modules in brief in order to help understand them better.
- NISM Series I: Currency Derivatives Certification Examination
This certification offers the knowledge of fundamentals about the currency derivatives market and its operations, including trading and settlement mechanisms and investment strategies. It is meant for those professionally dealing with currency derivatives and exchange-traded currency futures.
- NISM-Series-II-A: Registrars to an Issue and Share Transfer Agents-Corporate Certification Examination
With this certification, those working with Registrars to an Issue and Share Transfer Agents (R&T Agents or RTAs) can acquire a basic knowledge of securities markets and better understand the role of RTAs in corporate securities issuance and transaction process.
- NISM Series II B: Registrars and Transfer Agents (Mutual Fund) Certification Examination
This certification holds relevance for those working with RTAs involved in mutual fund R&T function and offers a basic knowledge of securities markets apart from shedding light on the role of RTAs in the mutual fund issuance and transaction process.
- NISM Series-III-A: Securities Intermediaries Compliance (Non-Fund) Certification Examination
This certification is meant for professionals working with stockbrokers, depository participants, and other financial intermediaries. The course designed to help understand the role and function of financial intermediaries and the importance of compliance function in the securities market.
- NISM Series-III-B: Issuers Compliance Certification Examination
This certification sheds light on the role and functionalities of compliance officers working with listed companies and helps understand the basics of domestic and international corporate fundraising along with corporate compliance requirements.
- NISM Series IV: Interest Rates Derivatives Certification Examination
It is meant for those working in the interest rates derivatives segment and offers knowledge of fundamentals related to the fixed income securities market along with the basics of market operations related to interest rate derivative products.
- NISM Series V A: Mutual Fund Distributors Certification Examination
This certification is meant for those involved in the sales and distribution of mutual funds. It offers a broad-based idea of different types of mutual fund schemes and covers varied aspects of their evaluation and market distribution.
- NISM-Series V-B: Mutual Fund Foundation Certification Examination
This certification is meant for those involved in the sales and distribution of simple and performing mutual fund schemes. It offers a basic understanding of the composition of different types of mutual funds, rules related to their distribution and methods of evaluation along with the basics of financial planning.
- NISM-Series-V-C: Mutual Fund Distributors (Level 2) Certification Examination
This is a voluntary certification meant to impart knowledge of advance mutual fund products, fund valuation, measuring fund performance and regulatory requirements.
- NISM Series VI: Depository Operations Certification Examination
This certification is designed for those working with registered depository participants to impart fundamentals of institutional structure and regulatory framework within which depository participants operate along with their various functions.
- NISM Series VII: Securities Operations and Risk Management Certification Examination
It is meant for those working with registered stockbrokers, clearing members or trading members in a stock exchange. Professionals learn the fundamentals of the securities market in India along with the regulatory role of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the role and functionalities of a stockbroking firm.
- NISM-Series-VIII: Equity Derivatives Certification Examination
Professionals associated with the equity derivative segment can learn about the fundamentals of equity derivative market in India along with its regulatory environment context in which it operates. The content helps build an understanding of the operational mechanism of the equity derivative market along with useful trading strategies relevant to this market segment.
- NISM Series-IX: Merchant Banking Certification Examination
This certification is relevant for those working with SEBI registered merchant bankers in a compliance-related role. Professionals can acquire a working knowledge of merchant banking in India and various roles and functionalities of merchant bankers related to the initial public offer, further public offer, buy-back, and delisting among other things.
- NISM-Series-X-A: Investment Adviser (Level 1) Certification Examination
Registered Investment advisers along with those associated with them as partners and representatives are required to earn this certification. It offers knowledge of basics related to investment advisory. This includes evaluating and recommending financial products to investors along with an in-depth understanding of personal financial planning to help investors achieve the best results possible.
- NISM-Series-X-B: Investment Adviser (Level 2) Certification Examination
Relevant for investment advisers and associated people, this certification deals with advanced aspects of investment advisory involving a focus on detailed personal financial planning, asset allocation, product selection, portfolio construction and management along with compliance and other aspects.
- NISM-Series-XI: Equity Sales Certification Examination
This is a voluntary certification offering a detailed understanding of equity markets in India including but not limited to an understanding of its operational mechanism along with clearing, settlement and risk management.
- NISM Series-XII: Securities Markets Foundation Certification Examination
This is a voluntary certification aimed at entry-level finance professionals or any individuals interested in gaining an understanding of Indian securities markets, functioning of primary and secondary markets, different financial products and the process of financial planning.
- NISM Series-XIII: Common Derivative Certification Examination
This certification holds relevance for those working with registered trading members of equity derivatives, interest rate derivatives or currency derivatives. It offers a broad-based knowledge of all three sections of derivatives markets in India along with its operational mechanism and also deals with trading and hedging strategies employed in this market segment.
- NISM Series-XIV: Internal Auditors for Stock Brokers Certification Examination
This certification is meant for chartered accountants, company secretaries, cost management accountants or any other associated persons or partners signing the internal audit report of the operations of stockbrokers or clearing members. It offers knowledge of basics related to operations and compliance requirements of stockbrokers along with the regulatory framework within which they operate.
- NISM Series-XV: Research Analyst Certification Examination
This certification is designed for registered research analysts and associated persons engaged in any kind of research analysis. It offers a comprehensive view of equity and debt markets, varied approaches to fundamental analysis, knowledge of micro and macro-economic analysis along with other aspects related to financial research and analysis.
NISM Exam Dates, Eligibility and Job roles
Most of these certifications are mandated by SEBI to be obtained by finance professionals in relevant roles to ensure a higher quality of services in the financial sector. There are no special eligibility criteria to pursue these certifications and those working in professionals roles associated with the stock exchange or interested individuals with little no knowledge or experience in the finance domain can sit for the certification exams. Passing marks in individual exams are 50% or 60%. There is also a negative marking of 25% in most of these exams.
Each certification covers a specialized knowledge area in the financial domain and is highly relevant to professionals working in these specific domains. All of the certification exams are computer-based and can be taken from the nearest exam center as per individual convenience. Interested individuals can enroll for a certification exam which would be valid for a period of 180 days and on expiry of this period no refund would be made and neither any rescheduling is possible.
To reschedule an exam, candidates can log in on the exam portal at least 30 days prior to the date of examination. This rescheduling facility can be availed only once. For successful candidates, NISM issues the exam certification within 15 days of completing the exam. The certificate exam validity is for 3 years and in the 12 months before expiry, candidates can appear for the Continuing Professional Education exam to earn a 3-yer extension.
Each certification module is designed for professionals working in a pre-defined area of the financial services sector with the intent to equip them with relevant knowledge and help improve the quality of services in the financial industry. Most of the exams include a basic overview of the related areas, concepts, and methodologies along with a focus on their professional role and its functionalities to be of practical assistance.
Certification exams are available round the year on-demand and candidates can enroll and schedule an exam on the NISM portal.
There are no special eligibility criteria for any of these certification exams except for computer literacy, which is a must to sit for these computer-based exams. Professionals for whom a certification is mandated by SEBI or any other interested individuals can sit for these exams to gain working knowledge in a certain area of the finance domain.
People working as Investment Advisers, Mutual Fund Distributors, Marketing/Sales Personnel in Currency Markets, employees of Registrar and Transfer Agents(RTA), stock broker’s employees, employees of investment banking or merchant banking companies among other finance professionals can gain relevant certifications to bring added value to their career profile for better career growth.
Why Pursue NISM certifications?
Most of the NISM certifications are mandated by SEBI for professionals working in different roles within the financial industry with a view to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills and enhance their professional competence. This is supposed to help improve the quality of services and performance levels in the financial industry as a whole.
As per the direction of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), investment advisors and their associated persons are compulsorily required to obtain NISM Series X-A: Investment Adviser (Level 1) Certification examination or another relevant certification from a NISM-accredited institution.
There are a number of voluntary certifications offered under this certification scheme, meant to enhance the expertise of professionals in their specific knowledge area.
NISM Exam Format
Below is the snapshot of NISM certification details on their site. To get information on all their products please refer NISM Certification details
NISM Exam Fees
NISM most of the certifications are below INR 2000 however a few do cost higher however within INR 10000
NISM Results & Passing Rates
During the financial year 2014-2015, a total of 1,07,305 candidates appeared for NISM
Certification Examinations in 209 Test Centres located at 161 cities across India.
NISM Study Material
On enrollment for a certain certification program, candidates can download study material from the exam portal.
NISM Study Strategies: Before the Exam
Cover the concepts in their entirety:
Cover the broader concepts at length instead of studying selectively to gain a better understanding of the topics.
Learn better with the analytical approach:
Adopting an analytical approach to application-oriented sections of the curriculum is always helpful.
Do Not Forget to Practice:
Make it a point to write your own notes and practice enough after completing study of a certain section instead of waiting to cover the entire course.
Take as many practice exams as possible. There are a number of mock tests available online which can help a candidate become acquainted with the exam format. The exam portal also offers a number of practice exams.
NISM Strategies: During the Exam
Study each question and start with the easy ones:
Study the questions carefully before attempting them to make sure you understand what is being asked. It is always better to start with the questions you are comfortable with and leave the tougher ones for the latter half of the exam.
Avoid negative marking:
Remember there is negative marking and although a couple of incorrect responses may not affect your scores greatly quite a few of them can spoil your hard work. So be careful while attempting questions you are not sure about.
Have a Plan in Place:
It is best to have a rough plan to tackle the exam and follow it to be able to cover the questions in a more or less systematic manner, thus reducing chances or error or oversight.
The study, Attempt, and Review:
Always remember the golden rule of study, attempt, and review during the exam. Be sure to study the questions in entirety, attempt them and spare time to review your answers to be able to improve your score.
A single time rescheduling is available at least 30 days prior to the examination. Later than that, no rescheduling is possible and the exam fee cannot be refunded either.