Evolving knowledge requirements amidst rapid change

by Marshall Beyer October 24, 2018

To say that the Financial Services industry is changing isn’t news-new technologies, practices, and proficiencies have been multiplying at an exponential rate for decades. The disruptive innovation of FinTech has been revolutionizing the current model of financial services. Fears of total automation of the industry and an anxiety about product knowledge have precipitated the introduction and adoption of each new change, from mobile banking, to peer-to-peer lending sites-even dating all the way back to ATMs themselves. And technology is only one part of the story; be it fintech disruption, shifting regulation, or changing client attitudes, adaptation is what we do. What becomes noteworthy then, throughout this rapid change, isn’t the change itself: it’s how training and education in these rapidly-evolving services have managed to keep up, preparing the professionals of tomorrow while simultaneously upskilling the experts of today.


No matter the role, trust is the backbone of our entire industry. Demonstration of knowledge requirements, core competencies, and certifications are how professionals instill trust in clients and regulatory bodies alike. In order for those requirements to mean something, they need to encompass not only what’s new in the industry, but also what’s just around the corner-which is no simple task. Keeping current involves the constant re-evaluation of both competencies and knowledge requirements for every role-because in this shifting landscape, stagnation means getting left behind. While professionals focus on upskilling to remain competitive in the marketplace, it’s the role of organizations like CSI to provide the roadmap for their development. The requirements and emerging competencies as determined by industry and regulatory input and consultation organized by CSI swiftly translate into ‘must-haves’ for clients and financial institutions alike.


The highest-level description of what’s expected from any financial services professional are competencies: an outline of the abilities and job-related skills that any professional must possess in the role. For instance, a competency for a Registered Representative would be to “conduct investment product due diligence;” this refers to the kind of skills and abilities that clients and financial institutions trust every RR to possess. Competencies in general don’t change as frequently as other industry facets, and as such, CSI performs a competency review every five years, in order to keep current.

Knowledge requirements, however, cover the kinds of things professionals have to be aware of in their roles, for instance “understanding the way companies are analyzed and valued.” A knowledge requirement is about being aware of how the industry operates and how our jobs are performed, including available products, analytical processes, behavioural knowledge, and more.

When it comes to investment products, knowledge requirements mean understanding the features, benefits, and risks of any given product - and CSI’s role includes the determination of which includes consulting with the industry and regulators to determine which investment products should be covered under these requirements. Keeping current means that knowledge requirements shift and change as rapidly as products are introduced - which keeps increasing at an exponential rate. This makes the determination of these requirements more important than ever, as professionals who are seeking to develop their skills need these invaluable industry requirements to guide them.

Earning the kind of trust we win from our clients means constantly evaluating these requirements, while simultaneously working with stakeholders to read the market to determine which new products will take hold and which products may fall by the wayside or be forgotten.


This re-evaluation presents a dilemma: Imagine the introduction of a brand-new financial product on the market. At first it isn’t very well-known or widely-adopted, which could mean that this is not yet deserving of becoming a knowledge requirement... however, over time, it could gain in popularity and suddenly licensing courses and exams could seem out of date.

Herein lies the challenge and the ongoing value of expert evaluation; it takes a dedicated team to determine what falls into the ‘need to know’ category for our industry - and considering how busy financial professionals are, all additional knowledge requirements need to be practical and valuable. Fortunately, beyond supplying the roadmap for developing your skills, CSI also provides the learning tools you need to stay on top of your game.


As certain products may only become requirements after they’ve become more widely-rooted in our industry, the importance of keeping current via continuing education cannot be overstated. There are so many shifting and changing aspects of the financial landscape-including technology, regulation, social attitudes, procedures, and more. A personal commitment to continued growth and development ensures that any professional deserves the trust that their clients instill in them.

Stay tuned to #InsightCSI for more insights into how CSI crafts courses and proficiency standards, providing you the roadmap to ‘upskill’ yourself to success.