The Financial Services sector in Ireland employs over 35,000 professionals and contributes approximately €2.1bn in taxes per year. A hugely profitable and popular sector, Finance represents 7.1% of the Irish GDP.

The Irish Financial Services Centre (IFSC), Ireland’s internationally trading financial services industry, has ambitious plans to increase employment by one third in the next two years, making it a great sector to be involved in.

The demand for employees with professional qualifications is already growing and is set to increase even further. QFA (Qualified Financial Adviser) and APA (Accredited Product Adviser) are two top qualifications Irish employers have been increasingly requesting from candidates who want to pursue a career in banking.

If you are a product or a financial advisor, or wish to become one, then either of these qualifications will enhance the breadth and depth of your knowledge to provide consumers with sound professional advice.

QFA (Qualified Financial Advisor)

QFA is seen as the gold-standard professional title and a valuable qualification for financial services professionals. QFA is particularly relevant for customer-facing roles. The programme is ideal for anyone working in Life Assurance, Credit Unions, Mortgage Lending, Pensions and Investments.

QFA designates are entitled to use the designator letters 'QFA'. There are more than 16,000 QFAs currently in Ireland. The standard of competence that the QFA designation represents is deemed by the Central Bank of Ireland as meeting its Minimum Competency Code requirements in five categories of retail financial products.
The Minimum Competency Code applies to anyone advising consumers on, and/or carrying out other specified functions in relation to certain retail financial products.

QFA exams are held each year in January, May and September.

APA (Accredited Product Adviser)

APA designation is ideal for school leavers and graduates aiming to start a career in insurance, career changers who want to move in the insurance sector, new entrants who need to meet the requirement of the Central Bank’s MCC and experience people who want to earn a qualification.  

APA enables members to become accredited under the Central Bank of Ireland’s Minimum Competency Code in one or more of the categories of retail financial products covered by the Code.

The categories APA allows you to be accredited in are: Life Assurance, Pensions, Savings and Investments, Housing Loans, Home Reversion Agreements and Associated Insurances, Consumer Credit Agreements and Associated Insurances.

APA exams are also held in January, May and September each year and follow a 3-module structure.

For the past few years Finance and Banking has been the industry to be involved in. FDI and home investment show no signs of slowing down and the job opportunities are plentiful – especially in these 4 areas.

If you are an APA or QFA holder, have recently graduated and are looking to start your career in financial services or just want to know more about financial qualifications and job opportunities in the financial services market, get in touch with Agnish: Agnish.Banerjee@cpl.ie.

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