Updated: Jun 29, 2020
"These modules are a great way to showcase your inclination towards the finance sector. They help in getting the finance shortlists and cracking interviews".
We're talking about the NSE Academy Certification in Financial Markets also known as the NCFM Modules. On a very special request by multiple members of the Non-Engineers community, I got in touch with Divya Surana, a friend of mine from Kirori Mal College and a current student of PGP at IIM Indore. Divya has completed an NISM certification, that is conducted by SEBI and I have completed an NCFM certification, that is conducted by NSE. We both are here today to help you understand more about it.
NSE India's website describes the NCFM modules as follows:
Our NSE Academy Certification in Financial Markets, or NCFM, program is an online testing and certification program that tests the practical knowledge and skills required to operate in the financial markets. The NCFM program operates on our intranet and is administered through our designated test centers located across India.
So, these modules are basically online-tests that judge your finance knowledge and certify how well equipped you are to be in a finance role in the industry. In a way, they provide you a proof to showcase your interest as well as the competence for a finance role.
Who is eligible for these modules?
There is no restriction placed on the basis of age or qualification for anyone to attempt the NCFM modules. You should be able to attempt the exam in an online format and hence, computer literacy is the only requirement to appear for these modules.
When can one apply and appear for the tests?
One can apply anytime during the year and appear for the exam as per one's availability. Upon requesting for a test date, there are certain options given by the institute and one can choose the test centre, date and time combination that suits the most.
How many modules are there and how much do they cost?
There are about 11 foundation modules, 21 intermediate modules and 15 advance modules. Most of these modules cost Rs. 2,000 (inclusive of GST).
For how long is the test score valid?
For most modules, the validity is 5 years.
How many questions are asked and how much time is given?
Though these details vary, most modules have 60 questions to be attempted in 120 minutes. There is no negative marketing in most of them, but this may depend on the module type.
If you wish to know more about the modules, visit NSE India's Wesbite.
Now that the basics are clear, we can proceed to the discussion Divya and I had regarding our experience with the NCFM modules and how they added value to our respective careers. From hereon, Divya will be referred as D and I'll be referred as S.
Q: How did you get to know about these tests?
D: One of my college seniors shared about these tests and told that they add value to CV.
S: One of my friends was appearing for these. Upon asking the benefits, I found out that they help in boosting one's profile for IIM interviews.
Q: Which test did you apply for?
D: The Research Analyst Certification from NISM.
S: Financial Markets - A Beginner's Module.
Q: When did you apply for it? What was your motivation?
D: I applied for it after graduating from the college. I appeared for the exam in June, 2018. By then, I knew I was going to join IIM Indore, so before that I wanted to learn more about research and investment.
S: I applied and appeared for it in July, 2017 while I was in the second year of college. My motive was to improve my profile for the B-school interviews that'd have lined up post the CAT exam.
Q: For how long did you prepare and from where?
D: I prepared for 1 month. Some of the concepts were similar to the Investment Management subject that was there in the B Com (H) 6th semester syllabus. So, all I did was refer the study material shared by NSE and revise.
S: I prepared for 20 days and referred to the online study material shared by NSE. It was sufficient.
Q: How did you practice the questions?
D: There was a sample paper shared by NSE. In fact, most of the questions asked were from the sample paper.
S: The sample paper was such a useful resource, there were many questions directly asked from it.
Q: How much did you score in the module?
D: I scored 91.25 marks.
S: I scored 97 marks.
(in order to pass, you're required to score at least 50%)
Q: Do you think this certification caught attention of the interviewers?
D: Yes, I was asked about this certification in my summer placements at IIM Indore.
S: Yes, in 2 of my IIM interviews, I was asked questions on the basis of this.
Q: How useful are these certifications in getting finance shortlists?
D: For me, it proved out to be useful. As a fresher, it gave me an edge over other B Com freshers at IIM Indore. I got many finance shortlists during summers and in fact interned at one in the Portfolio Management role.
S: I applied to the finance firms during the summer placements at IIM-A just to see if they shortlist me. To my surprise, I got many markets roles and corporate finance shortlists at that time.
Q: Do you think they were value for money?
D: Totally! They are one of the most affordable modules out there for finance. They can be completed at self-pace and need very little preparation.
S: I feel they were worth it. It's not a lot when you compare it with the doors they open for you.
Q: Would you recommend these to any undergraduate student?
D: Definitely! Especially if someone is interested in the finance field and wants to showcase his/her interest to the interviewers or recruiters.
S: I think students should definitely take these up, they are a point of differentiation in one's CV.
Q: When should someone attempt these, while in college?
D: Ideally, they should be attempted in the second/third years because they'll remain valid by the time you get into a finance job/B-school. Also, the curriculum (if you're from a related background) can help you.
S: I feel the best time is the summer vacation after 4th semester. Most students are free at that time and preparing for exams like CAT, XAT, etc. This can boost one's profile for the lined up interviews.
Q: How many of them should someone attempt and which ones?
D: According to me, 2 are sufficient till the graduation level. Choose it on the basis of your interest and what's trending in the market. For example, learn more about derivatives and securities.
S: 1-2 are enough, but if you're totally into finance, you may try doing 2 beginners and then 1 intermediate. You may choose it in relation to what you've already studied and the role you wish to get into.
Hope this helps you understand the relevance of NCFM modules for any student, be it an engineer or a non-engineer in showing inclination towards the finance roles and proving one's merit in finance.
A very special thank you to the kind-hearted Divya, who shared her experience with us all. She is more than willing to help any student out there and in case you have any specific question for her, do let me know.
Another way to boost your profile for finance is the CFA route, for which you can refer to this post.