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Examining the securities trade lifecycle from an operational perspective, this diploma provides detailed insights into the area that is at the functional centre of any capital markets business. Based around the benchmark ICMA course in operations – the Operations Certificate Programme – the syllabus of the programme has been designed for candidates to develop their understanding of operations relating to equity and debt securities and OTC derivatives. Topics covered include the trade lifecycle, repos, securities lending & borrowing, corporate actions, collateral management and centrally cleared and non-centrally cleared trades under EMIR.

Comprised of four parts – a foundation, advanced and two specialist level- courses – and covering everything from recognising the primary components of the securities trade life cycle to the structural aspects of OTC derivatives, this is the diploma for the professionals in financial market operations.

Diploma Outcomes

By completing this course you will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how equities and bonds are brought to the marketplace.
  • Identify and understand the roles of the major securities market participants.
  • Identify the components of the securities trade life cycle.
  • Identify the fundamentals of trade management, including repo, securities lending & borrowing transactions, corporate actions, collateral management and more.
  • Recognise the processing steps necessary to maintain control and to mitigate internal and external processing risks.
  • Understand mandatory external regulation as it relates to the central clearing of OTC derivatives

Other learning outcomes will depend on selection of specialist courses.

How do I get an ICMA diploma?

ICMA diplomas are expressly designed to deliver the technical skills needed by capital market professionals to excel in their jobs and to advance their employment opportunities. They offer structured, yet flexible, study programmes for individuals at different points in their careers. The diplomas are backed by the trade body at the heart of the debt capital markets, which is the standard setter for many areas of market practice, including primary market issuance, secondary market trading, repo and collateral and sustainable finance.

The ICMA diploma is made up of three or four courses*, all of which must be completed in two years. To achieve and ICMA diploma you will need to complete the following:

  • One or two foundation courses* – depending on where you are in your career you might choose to start with the Financial Market Foundation Qualification to learn about the different asset classes, followed by the Introduction to Securities Operations Qualification to learn more about the securities trade lifecycle. Alternately, for those with more experience you may be exempt from having to do a foundation course at all. Note that all foundation courses are assessed, and you must pass the exam/s before taking the next course.
  • One advanced course – you will need to complete our flagship course for financial markets operations the Operations Certificate Programme and successfully complete the exam to gain a diploma.
  • One or two specialist level courses – a standard diploma will normally include two specialist courses, although you might only take one specialist course if you’ve completed two foundation courses.
* For those with a degree in the relevant subject OR more than two years’ experience working in DCM roles, you may qualify for an exemption to the foundation level of the programme and become eligible to achieve your diploma by completing the advanced course plus two specialist courses. Please contact for more details.

Confused? Contact us at to find out more, including whether you qualify for a course exemption.


ICMA Members: EUR 4,500 - 7,750 + VAT (if applicable)
Non Members: EUR 6,250 - 9,950 + VAT (if applicable)

Who should attend?

The diploma is designed for people who work in operations and back-office roles within a bank or fund management company, those working in the middle office, collateral management and compliance areas. Other candidate profiles include those working for financial IT service companies, exchanges, data vendors and central securities depositories.

Programme Recognition

ICMA diplomas are jointly awarded by ICMA and the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School, University of Reading. ICMA is approved by the Securities & Futures Commission of Hong Kong as providing Continuous Professional Training (CPT) and a member of CPD® Certification Service, and the programme contains course/s which have been accredited by the CPD® Certification Service. ICMA recommends that up to 120 learning hours can be associated with this programme, depending on attended/undertaken hours of study required to successfully complete the learning outcomes. Please ask ICMA Education for more details on the CPD details of your diploma on

* For those with a degree in the relevant subject OR more than two years’ experience working in DCM roles, you may qualify for an exemption to the foundation level of the programme and become eligible to achieve your diploma by completing the advanced course plus two specialist courses. Please contact for more details.

The Diploma in Financial Markets Operations can be achieved by completing one/two Foundation, one Advanced and one/two Specialist courses:

Please ask about other eligible courses by contacting

  • Foundation:
    • Financial Markets Foundation Qualification (FMFQ) OPTIONAL
      The programme is intended to provide ‘breadth of knowledge’ to make it relevant to people pursuing careers in the front office, middle office and operations areas. The syllabus content places an even emphasis on introducing and explaining the key concepts of each subject area to develop candidates’ practical knowledge and skill sets.

    • Introduction to Securities Operations Qualification (ISOQ) MANDATORY
      The Introduction to Securities Operations Qualification (ISOQ) 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.
  • Advanced:
    • Operations Certificate Programme (OCP)
      The ICMA Operations Certificate Programme (OCP) is regarded as an essential qualification for professionals intending to develop their knowledge of financial market operations. The syllabus has been specifically designed to convey the information necessary for candidates to develop their understanding of operations relating to A) equity and debt securities, and to B) OTC derivatives. This includes detailed training on subjects such as (for securities) the trade lifecycle, repos, securities lending & borrowing, corporate actions, and (for OTC derivatives) collateral management, centrally cleared and non-centrally cleared trades under EMIR.
  • Specialist:
    • Introduction to Repo
      This introductory level course provides an overview on how the repo market is structured, the key players and key regulation and is ideal for those wanting a foundation-level overview of this topic.

    • Introduction to Digital Assets & Securities
      An introductory level programme intended for anyone seeking a foundation in digital assets.  The syllabus offers an overview of digital assets (including Bitcoin and Ethereum), distributed ledger technology as well as the key underpinnings of blockchain technology.  In addition, the programme offers candidates an understanding of the regulatory space as well as important cash-leg tokens such as CBDCs and stablecoins.
    • Introduction to the Buyside
      An overview of the financial marketplace including who the different buyside investors are and what are their motivations and investment strategies. The course also provides participants with a refresher on fixed income and the risks associated with that instrument in particular.

    • Introduction to Market Infrastructure
      A broad overview of the roles, products, processes and institutions that comprise financial services, including the motivations and innovations that drive the industry and the rules that regulate it.

    • Introduction to the Global Master Repurchase Agreement
      An introductory level programme suitable for anyone seeking a sound foundation in repurchase transactions and the ICMA Global Master Repurchase Agreement, or GMRA. The syllabus provides an overview of the structure and purpose of repurchase transactions. It also describes the economic effects of repo and the underlying fundamental concepts. In addition, the course explains the key provisions and features of the GMRA, considers the benefits of using a master agreement, identifies potential areas of risk, and examines relevant case law.

    • Corporate Actions: An Introduction
      The world of corporate actions is generally regarded within financial institutions as a mystery area requiring specialist knowledge in order to comprehend what lies beneath. In reality, like many other aspects of securities processing, corporate actions work to a set of logical rules which, if followed, will result in controlled and risk-free processing.

    • Corporate Actions: Operational Challenges
      Corporate actions arise on both equity and debt (bond) securities. Even the most basic type of corporate action can prove a challenge from a processing perspective, requiring highly accurate event details combined with accurate (fully reconciled) internal books & records to be certain of controlled and risk-free processing. Some event types (optional and voluntary events) contain deadlines that increase the risk of processing error, should such cut-off times be missed. Furthermore, when complex event types are combined with certain trading and operational strategies, the scope for misunderstanding and confusion increases the processing risks further.

    • Securities Lending
      In collaboration with the International Securities Lending Association (ISLA), this course will provide delegates with a strong grasp of the fundamentals of securities lending & borrowing (SLB) including the different stages of the securities lending lifecycle, from onboarding, pre-trade negotiation, trade execution, post-trade and termination, master agreement and trading terms negotiations to delivery and reporting. This course also provides a functional overview of the main actors in securities lending and their motivations in the current market climate, including borrowers needing to cover positions and passive investors looking to achieve better returns.

    • Collateral Management
      The use of collateral, for many years associated mainly with repo and securities lending transactions, has seen a rapid growth within the financial marketplace. The need to reduce exposure in these transactions, as well as the rise of the OTC derivatives market, has led to a significant increase in the degree of complication faced by operations departments. Successful processing of collateral within an organisation requires knowledgeable staff that understand the component parts that lead to safe and secure processing, as well as awareness of the pitfalls that can result in unacceptable exposures.

    • Introduction to Sustainable Bonds
      This course gives you a deep understanding of the mechanics of green, social and sustainability bonds, taking you from the big picture policy context to introducing the underlying drivers of market development, main product features and regulation. We will talk about the Green and Social Bond Principles, the Sustainability Bond Guidelines and the new Sustainability-Linked Bond Principles and explain how they work in practice, including evaluation and selection of eligible projects for funding, the role of external reviewers and guidance on reporting. The course is illustrated with examples from the market, getting you ready to apply the knowledge at work and includes quiz questions for each module to ensure you're following the content.

    • Managing Repo under the GMRA 
      This course analyses how repo transactions operate within the framework provided by the Global Master Repurchase Agreement (GMRA) and highlights the issues that need to be addressed by users. The GMRA has underpinned the development of the cross border repo markets since its first publication in 1992 with subsequent revised versions in 1995, 2000 and 2011.

    • SFTR: Repo Reporting in Practice
      This course focuses on the practical aspects of reporting of repo transactions which are required under the EU Securities Financing Transactions Regulation (SFTR). It describes how and when repos (repurchase transactions and buy/sell-backs) should be reported to SFT trade repositories (subject to further clarification of some elements by ESMA), and highlights the challenges and, where possible, suggests solutions that were developed by the ICMA SFTR Task Force. A themed review of reporting fields (ie grouped into loan data, collateral data, etc), set against a repo life-cycle template, is brought together into a series of sample reports simulating different transaction configurations. Delegates will be provided with the latest version of ICMA's Recommendations for Reporting under SFTR.

    • Fixed Income Options
      Fixed income remains one of the dominant asset classes for issuers and investors.  This course focuses on the main concepts of optionality within the asset class. Although the course will cover the definitions of the key building blocks, it is not designed as a general introduction to options.  It will assume some basic understanding of option terminology such as calls, puts, ITM/OTM/ATM, European & American.  It is also useful if the participant was also conversant with the fundamentals of interest rate swaps.

    • Inflation-Linked Bonds and Derivatives
      This course is primarily designed to increase the awareness of the concept of inflation as an investable asset class. Beginning with the fundamentals of inflation, the syllabus goes on to explore the key aspects and benefits of inflation-links bonds and other structures such as swaps and options.

    • Bond Syndication Practices for Compliance and Middle Office Professionals
      This course provides an in-depth understanding of the practices involved in launching a deal in the international debt capital market.

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