Securities Operations Foundation Qualification (SOFQ) Online Programme

Next dates: 1 May*

Duration: 6 months

*registrations close 29 April at 12pm GMT

£995** for ICMA members

£1,400** for non-members

**excluding VAT if applicable.

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. As an indicative guide, we would recommend a total of 90 study hours is required to go through the material. Please note this is an approximate guide.

Programme Recognition

Candidates who are successful in gaining the Securities Operations Foundation Qualification and are CFA Charter Holders qualify for 16.5 credit hours which can be used towards study with the CFA Institute. CFA Institute members are encouraged to self-document their continuing professional development activities in their online CE tracker.

Test your knowledge

Unsure if this is the right course for you? Take a short sample exam.
Download brochure
The SOFQ Online Programme content 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

Candidates have three months to work through the content and take the SOFQ exam.


The SOFQ exam consists of a 50 multiple choice question paper covering the material you have worked through over the previous six (6) months. The deadline for taking your exam will be the final day of your study period. You will need to take and pass the exam before your deadline in order to receive your ICMA certificate.

You can take your exam online from the comfort of your with a live online proctoring service available 24/7. All you will need is a high-speed internet connection, a webcam (internal or external), a Windows or Apple operating system, and a government issued photo ID.

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.

As an indicative guide, we would recommend a total of 90 study hours is required to go through the material. Please note this is an approximate guide.
Details of next course

Start date: 1 May (registrations close on 29 April at 12pm GMT)


£995 for Members and £1,400 for non-members.

Costs include full access to the online campus, associated learning materials and the examination fee.

Please note that payment for online courses must be received before the start of the course.


Should you have any queries about the SOFQ Online Programme please contact
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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