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Securities Operations Foundation Qualification (SOFQ)
Download brochure The Securities Operations Foundation Qualification (SOFQ) is an introductory level programme intended for anyone entering a career in the securities operations area of the financial markets.

The syllabus has been specifically designed to provide the essential information necessary for candidates to develop a thorough understanding of both the debt and equity markets and, in particular, securities operations concepts.

The teaching conveys numerous conceptual points, which are combined with emphasis on the practical aspects of securities operations, including day-to-day challenges.

In order to ensure focus and to test a candidates understanding of concepts, exercises will be introduced at numerous points during the course.

By completing the programme you will:
  • Understand the primary components of the securities trade life-cycle
  • Comprehend the similarities and differences between equities and bonds
  • Be able to demonstrate an understanding of how equities and bonds are brought to the marketplace
  • Appreciate the roles of the major securities market participants
  • Comprehend fundamentals of repo and securities lending & borrowing transactions

Who should attend?

This qualification is directly relevant to people entering the world of securities operations and personnel currently working within this field who wish to gain a broader view of the subject.

Although not a formal prerequisite, the SOFQ provides useful background study for those wishing to study the ICMA Operations Certificate Programme (OCP) and our operations training courses.

Candidates should have basic quantitative skills but no prior study or work experience is required.

This qualification is also available to study online.

Programme Recognition

Candidates who are successful in gaining the Securities Operations Foundation Qualification qualify for 16.5 credit hours under the guidelines of the CFA Institute’s Continuing Education Programme.

Test your knowledge

Unsure if this is the right course for you? Click here to take a short sample exam.
Download brochureThe syllabus is divided into two specific topic areas, which are then broken down into multiple subtopics:

1. Generic Operations Concepts
  • The financial services environment
  • Fundamental banking operations concepts

2. Securities Operations Concepts

  • Securities products
  • Equity and debt issuance
  • Trade and settlement concepts
  • External trading infrastructure
  • Internal trading infrastructure
  • External settlement infrastructure
  • Internal operations infrastructure
  • Trade cash value calculation
  • The securities trade life-cycle - an overview
  • Repos - an overview
  • Securities lending and borrowing - an overview

The training is delivered over two and a half days with an exam taking place on the afternoon of day three.

The exam consists of 50 multiple choice questions which candidates have two hours to complete. In order to pass, candidates must answer a minimum of 30 questions correctly, with a score of 45 or more earning a distinction.

To prepare for the exam and assist candidates with the syllabus content, end-of-day review sessions are held at the end of the first two days and prior to the exam on day three.
Details of the next seminars


9-11 November 2016

15-17 November 2017

Novotel Brussels Centre Tour Noire
Rue de la Vierge Noire 32
1000 Brussels


20-22 March 2017

ICE Education
Milton Gate, 60 Chiswell Street
London EC1Y 4SA
United Kingdom

Based at ICE Education London offices: IntercontinentalExchange® (NYSE: ICE), is a leading operator of regulated global futures exchanges, clearing houses and over-the-counter (OTC) markets.


2016: £1,875 for Members and £2,450 for non-members

2017: £1,950 for Members and £2,750 for non-members

Please note, candidates who register for a 2017 programme before Monday, 2nd January 2017 will pay the lower 2016 cost.

The course fee includes all lunches, coffee breaks and training materials.

Payment can be made by secure online credit card or by invoice. 

Terms and conditions

Please click here to view our terms and conditions before registering.


Should you have any queries, please contact education@icmagroup.org.

SOFQ certificate holders

The names of the successful candidates from previous examinations are included in our list of certificate holders.

Jeong Moon Ki

Organisation: The Bank of Korea
Job title: Junior Economist

Describe what you do on a day to day basis in your job:
Open market operations are the main monetary policy instrument, through which the central bank buys or sells securities with financial institutions in the open markets, thereby influencing the amount of money in circulation and/or interest rates.  The Bank of Korea carries out open market operations mainly to steer the overnight call rate around the ‘Base Rate'. Along with this, the Bank can also maintain financial market stability by expanding its supply of liquidity to the markets through open market operations in times of financial turmoil.  

In Korea, these operations are conducted in three ways: through securities transactions, through the issuance and repurchase of Monetary Stabilization Bonds (MSBs), and through commercial banks’ deposits made in the Monetary Stabilization Account (MSA). What I do on a day to day basis in my job as a central bank employee is keeping the call rate from deviating sharply from the Base Rate set by the Monetary Policy Committee, particularly pertaining to securities transactions and the issuance of Monetary Stabilization Bonds (MSBs).

Reasons for taking the course:

I believe that being certified by ICMA is the best decision and investment I made for my career. Also, I wanted to have a stronger and more technical understanding of securities operations from the central bank’s perspective. Furthermore, I hoped to have the opportunity to network with other participants from all over the world in order to broaden my knowledge in the financial market.

Benefits of taking this course:
I could understand clearly about the full trading and settlement cycle of a trade. Also, it was a very good opportunity for me to benchmark my knowledge against the industry standard so that I could enrich my knowledge which will be useful in my future economic analysis.

Kevin Leung

Organisation: Euroclear Bank
Job title: Account Manager

Describe what you do on a day to day basis in your job:
Collaborating with the relationship manager in managing the business relationships in Taiwan and Hong Kong.  Providing value-added account services for top tier clients, such as the central banks, including the daily cash flow monitoring, customisation of reports and income payment reconciliation, as well as performing regular client service reviews and training. Identifying the key areas for improvement in our core services we provide to our major clients and transforming them into account plans for actions. Also acting as the escalation point for complicated service issues for important clients and driving the actions within our client service and operations teams in order to get those issues resolved.

Reasons for taking the course:

To enhance my understanding on the securities operations from a custodian’s perspective;
To network with other participants in the industry in order to broaden my knowledge in the financial industry.

Benefits of taking this course:
Although I have quite some experience and knowledge in some of the topics covered in the course, I find it quite useful to gain more exposure, particularly on the front office operations, where I could understand more about the full trading and settlement cycle of a trade.  Also, it is a very good opportunity for me to benchmark my knowledge and experience with the industry standard.

Chermaine Lee

Organisation: S.W.I.F.T
Job title: Market Analyst (Clearing & Settlement)

Describe what you do on a day to day basis in your job:
I’m responsible for the market management of securities market infrastructures, particularly pertaining to their clearing and settlement activities with S.W.I.F.T.

Reasons for taking the course:

To have a stronger and more technical understanding of securities operations, particularly the functions of the main actors like the global and local custodians, CSDs and ICSDs.

Benefits of taking this course:
I developed a clearer understanding of how securities are processed, in terms of the post-trade lifecycle and how the different agents interact with each other, which will be useful in my future analysis.

Omar Alzeer

Organisation: Gulf Investment Corporation
Job title: Manager

Describe what you do on a day to day basis in your job:
I manage the settlement of securities operations transactions.

Reasons for taking the course:

In a very competitive global business environment one must develop his/her operational skills to the highest potential. The SOFC was the right collective and subjective course for this.  Not only that, but being certified by ICMA is something of added value of competence to our staff members.

Benefits of taking this course:
Despite my previous six years’ experience, this course indeed enriched my knowledge and skills in my day to day business activities.

Alexander Lauterbach

Organisation: VEM Aktienbank AG
Job title: Head of Finance

Describe what you do on a day to day basis in your job:
Department Head Back Office:
  • Clearing/Settlement of proprietary and client trading
  • Payments
  • National and international security delivering
  • Paying Agent
Department Head Accounting:
  • Financial Statements in German GAAP and IFRS
  • Controlling
Reasons for taking the course:
Language update of my existing business knowledge and analysing differences between the UK market (Euroclear) and Local German market (Clearstream)

Benefits of taking this course:

Concentrated overview

Daniela Meuer  

Organisation: European Central Bank
Job title: Senior Research Analyst

Describe what you do on a day to day basis in your job:

Maintaining static data in our Treasury Management System; Project Management, Support duties to various IT systems.

What challenges do you face in your current role:

The wide breadth of knowledge that has to to be maintained, depending on the market situation and the decisions made by the decision-making bodies of the ECB. 

Reasons for taking the course you attended:

To increase my knowledge of how markets and market players act together and where there are links due to the globalisation.

Tell us how our course helped you in overcoming these challenges:

As the course defined the concepts of the current markets, it helped to improve my overall understanding of the financial markets.  Some areas are not applicable for a Central Bank however due to the bank’s limitation of eligibility.

Benefits of taking this course:

It was a good foundation course to learn about the different markets and institutions and their various roles. It certainly increased my knowledge and improved my understanding of security operations.


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