SOFQ - Online self-study
Start date: 1 November

SOFQ - Livestreamed
New dates TBC - e-mail to register your interest

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.

Test your knowledge

Unsure if this is the right course for you? Take a short sample exam.

Sample Module

Access a transcript of this video here.

Course Outcomes

By completing this course you will be able to:
  • Identify the similarities and differences between equities and bonds
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how equities and bonds are brought to the marketplace
  • Identify and understand the roles of the major securities market participants
  • Recognise the primary components of the securities trade life-cycle
  • Demonstrate how Operations manages the securities through its various activities
  • Identify fundamentals of trade management, including repo and securities lending & borrowing transactions
  • Recognise and identify corporate actions

Who should study the programme?

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 advanced level operations training courses.

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

The names of successful candidates will be included in our list of certificate holders.

Programme Recognition

This course has been approved as Certified by CPD®.

ICMA recommends that 24 learning hours can be associated with this course, based on attended/undertaken hours of study required to successfully complete the learning outcomes.

Course Trainers

David Rosenthal
Gail Rolland

Mike Simmons
Hasse Brandt
The course syllabus is divided into the following key topic areas:

An Introduction to International Securities
•    Key players
•    Debt and Equities
•    The Primary Market: How Deals are Brought to the Market
•    The Secondary Markets

The Pre-trade environment
•    Pre-Trade Function
•    Role of Client Onboarding
•    Understanding KYC
•    Master Agreements
•    Static Data Collection

Trade Execution and Immediate Post-trade
•    Trading Paradigms: Flow and Proprietary Trading
•    Trade Execution Systems
•    Trade Capture and Confirmation
•    Role of Middle Office

Trade Clearing and Settlement
•    Role of Custodians
•    Central Securities Depositories
•    Payment Systems
•    Trade Cash Values
•    Central and Bilateral Clearing Systems
•    Updating Books & Position Reconciliation
•    STP

Position Management
•    Trading & Settled Positions
•    Funding Positions
•    Covering Shorts
•    Basics of Repo and Securities Lending & Borrowing
•    P/L calculation

Regulatory reporting
•    Regulatory Reporting Requirements
•    Role of Operations

Asset Servicing
•    Managing Securities
•    Corporate Actions


The exam consists of 50 multiple choice questions of which candidates must answer a minimum of 30 questions correctly, with a score of 45 or more earning a distinction.

If you’re taking the classroom-based course, review sessions will be held prior to the exam to help candidates prepare for the assessment and assist with course content.

If you’re taking the online or livestreamed course you have six months in which to study the material, book and complete an online, fully invigilated exam. The exam is hosted on our online learning platform and invigilated by a live proctor via the camera and microphone on your computer. This allows you to choose a time and place of your convenience to take the exam, while guaranteeing secure exam conditions.
Prior to the exam, you will need to login with the proctor to check that your chosen exam equipment and space is adequate for the exam - you will receive further guidance when you register for the course.

Online Course

Delegates who sign up to online courses will have access for 6 months to enable them to take advantage of the additional online resources, discussion boards and other functions of our new digital learning platform.

Online courses start on the 1st of each month.
Start: 1 November

Start: 1 December

Online course fees

Self-study online course fees:
  • ICMA Members: EUR 1,150 + VAT (if applicable)
  • Non-members: EUR 1,650 + VAT (if applicable)

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.

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 only.

Livestreamed Course

Learning in a digital environment has a number of advantages and is growing in popularity as a medium of instruction. ICMA courses are delivered via video conferencing accessed on our digital learning platform, using the most effective pedagogical approaches and incorporating interactive functions like virtual breakout rooms.

The SOFQ live sessions are delivered over the course of five 3.5 hour sessions over the course of two weeks. You will be given access to the course materials before the live sessions, and will have access to those for a total of six months. During these six months you will have the option to keep working through the course materials at your own pace. Please note to ensure you book and take the exam within these six months.

Next datesTBC
Register your interest for this course at

Livestreamed course fees

ICMA Members: EUR 1,650 + VAT (if applicable)
Non Members: EUR 2,050 + VAT (if applicable)

For security reasons, delegates who have not registered in advance will not be admitted to the live sessions.


Should you have any queries, please contact

Test your knowledge

Central Securities Depository
Central Stock Depot
Corporate Securities Depot
Corporate Stocks Depository
African Development Bank
Microsoft Corporation
Qatar Investment Authority
US Government
Trading in a new issue of equity or bonds immediately following the announcement of a new issue, between the investor and the issuer of the security
Trading in a new issue of equity or bonds immediately prior to the announcement of a new issue, between two investors
Trading in a new issue of equity or bonds immediately following the closing date of a new issue, between two investors
Trading in a new issue of equity or bonds immediately prior to the closing date of a new issue, between the investor and the issuer of the security
Trade confirmation
Trade execution
Trade reconciliation
Trade validation
The date on which the deal is confirmed
The date on which the deal is executed
The date on which a matched confirmation report is issued by a clearing system
The date on which cash and securities are exchanged
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