The Allied European Financial Markets Association (AEFMA) will start its Certified Expert in Treasury and Markets CETM) in October 2018. I took the opportunity to interview Christian F. Buschmann, the speaker of AEFMA’s board of education.
|Link to AEFMA: http://www.aefma.de/home
Link to CETM:
Uwe: What is AEFMA and how did it come to exist?
Christian: AEFMA Germany e.V. – Allied European Financial Markets Association – is a non-profit association under German law. It is a professional association of market participants aiming to improve the national and European financial markets. Further, AEFMA Germany seeks to improve the education of its members and market participants through a comprehensive educational program. It is AEFMA Germany’s mission to represent market participants facing central banks, other financial institutions, ministries, regulators and other professional associations.
Uwe: What is your role in the organization, what is your vision?
Christian: Currently, I am one of AEFMA’s board members and speaker of AEFMA’s Board of Education. AEFMA’s Board of Education is responsible for AEFMA’s educational program. It defines AEFMA’s ongoing education strategy, content and format. It conducts marketing and communication of AEFMA’s education programs and examinations.
The board consists of the high-profile individuals from the financial markets and banking industry as well as representatives from AEFMA’s academic partner, the Frankfurt school of Finance & Management. The board either meets physically or via audio conference on a frequent basis.
It is the board’s vision to establish an educational program which adheres to highest standards of professionalism and competence in products and activities in the financial markets.
Uwe: Tell us a bit more about the program itself
Christian: AEFMA’s educational program consists of three components. The Financial Markets Certificate (FMC), the Certified Expert in Treasury and Markets (CETM), and one-day seminars.
The Financial Markets Certificate is AEFMA’s own certificate and serves as the basic training for AEFMA’s professional education program. The goal of the Financial Markets Certificate is to provide candidates with specialized knowledge on how various financial markets operate. This includes the mathematical and economic foundations of the financial products traded in those markets. Candidates who successfully complete the Financial Markets Certificate will be able to trade the products covered in the curriculum.
The Certified Expert in Treasury and Markets (CETM) was developed in collaboration with Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, AEFMA’s academic partner. The objective of the program is to provide participants with in-depth practical and theoretical understanding of financial markets & products as well as treasury. Experts from the financial industry meet up to keep themselves current, deepen their knowledge, and discuss challenging questions. The program starts with an e-learning part to build a foundation in financial markets and their products which is then examined. The program continues with two alternative advanced on-campus workshops to provide a deeper understanding of financial markets topics.
AEFMA’s one-day seminars are provided on a frequent basis or taught on demand by our members and/or the institutions they represent. These seminars cover e.g., basic financial products like bonds, equities and FX, their derivatives, asset liability management, and regulation, such as the FX Global Code. Recently, AEFMA organized a one-day seminar about financial markets and regulatory developments after the financial crisis.
Uwe: Who should take the CETM? In particular, is it tailored to the sell-side or the buy-side, i.e. corporate treasurers?
Christian: With the CETM, we seek to include every group of the financial market participants. Of course, the program was partially designed by bankers and market practitioners who include their hands-on experience in the program.
However, the program in general is designed in a way that it can be booked by any kind of market participants, e.g. traders, brokers, risk managers, portfolio managers, bank and corporate treasurers, risk controllers and sales personnel.
Uwe: How do you see the CETM in comparison with other similar programs and what are the USPs?
Christian: The CETM has two unique selling propositions. First, the program is jointly designed by practitioners and academics to combine latest market developments with state-of-art academic research, the second USP is the ECTS credit points that successful candidates will receive once they have completed the program. In contrast to other educational programs such as the CFA or the GARP Risk manager, CETM graduates can use the acquired credit points for the further studies such as MBA programs.
Uwe: How much time does a participant need to invest and which criteria do applicants need to be admitted? How much physical presence in Frankfurt is required?
Christian: The program starts with an e-learning part to build a fundamental knowledge in financial markets and their products, which will be assessed by an examination. The e-learning part has 225 hours of self-study and ends with a 3-hour exam. The CETM program continues with two alternative advanced workshops to provide a deeper understanding of financial markets topics. These workshops are scheduled as block-weeks. The final assignment is scheduled with 50 hours to give participants the opportunity to elaborate their financial markets knowledge on a specific topic. Only the block-week requires a physical presence in Frankfurt.
Uwe: What do you think are the highlights of the CETM?
Christian: The CETM offers a rigorous curriculum in financial products and block-weeks are taught by high-profile lecturers from academia and practice.
Another highlight is that we can tailor the block-week to the special needs of those organizations that bring at least ten candidates for one cohort. For example, a bank that wants to include the CETM in their graduate trainee program contacts Frankfurt School / AEFMA and defines the content of the block-week. During their trainee program, graduates become CETM candidates, do the online training, attend the block-week and write their final assignment. At the end of the graduate trainee program, the candidates will not only have successfully passed their graduate program but also become CETMs.
Uwe: Which role do derivatives play in the CETM and in the AEFMA?
Christian: As in financial markets in general, derivatives play a pivotal role in both the educational program, FMC and CETM, as well as in AEFMA in general. For the CETM, we have designed a block-week which solely deals with derivatives, their mechanics, and, of course, valuation.
Uwe: How is the AEFMA different from the ACI?
Christian: In Germany, AEFMA is successor of the local German ACI association. Here lies the major difference. ACI FMA is an international umbrella association for a variety of national associations around the world. This means that ACI FMA comprises of a lot of heterogeneous interest and demands. As a consequence, decisions take their time and do not fully reflect the needs of individual national associations and their members. Furthermore, the structure of ACI FMA is predominantly based on local forex associations. This is different in the Euro zone where FX trading plays a rather ancillary role for banks. As consequence, the former ACI Germany considered itself as treasurers association rather than a pure FX dealer association.
In this respect AEFMA only acts on behalf of its German members and has developed an educational program in which the needs and requirements of its members and the European financial markets community are properly reflected. Since two other former-ACI national associations, Austria’s Treasury and Markets Association (TMA) and the Luxembourg Financial Markets Association (LFMA) have adopted AEFMA’s educational program, we think that we are on the right track.
Uwe: Where will the AEFMA be most needed in the upcoming years?
Christian: My personal feeling is that AEFMA needs to keep up with the recent developments in the financial industry and cater to the needs of market professionals in general and the needs of our members in particular. While for the former, regulatory and market developments need to be reflected in our educational program, we need to ensure that our educational program is delivered to our members in an up-to-date fashion.
Uwe: Where do you see financial markets headed in the next couple of years? Is it worth pursuing a CETM program, when at the same time many big banks including Deutsche and Citi are dramatically reducing their investment banking operations?
Christian: I think we have two trends which will affect the financial markets in the upcoming years. First, the technology-driven economic changes in the banking industry and financial markets, which are mostly labeled as digital transformation, are a significant challenge for institutions and individuals. Second, increasing regulatory requirements are likely to increase further. Both trends shrink the margins of banks and increase their costs.
In such an environment, being in the CETM program is definitely an investment into the future. First, the program’s participants acquire a solid and in-depth practical and theoretical understanding of financial markets and their products. Second, the CETM program does not exclusively target banks. It is also suitable for the personnel of mutual funds, pension funds, hedge funds, asset managers in general and insurance companies. Third, the program is designed in a way that it is suitable for any kind of seniority, form graduate trainees to head-of-positions. Even though individuals change within or between industries they always take their acquired knowledge with them. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “Investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
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