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A conversation with Head of Banking and Finance, Jeremy Smith

Kaplan’s Head of Banking and Finance, Jeremy Smith

We recently caught up with the Head of Banking and Finance at Kaplan UK, Jeremy Smith.

With a wealth of experience in both accountancy and banking training, he spoke to us about his career, what to expect from Kaplan, and some exciting trends that we are keeping a close eye on.

Could you tell us about your role at Kaplan and what this entails?

Of course, I am the Head of Banking and Finance at Kaplan and I’ve worked at Kaplan for 13 years. When I joined Kaplan I had a few hats to wear. I was a tutor delivering courses for Kaplan, mostly UK regulatory exam courses and non-exam City based courses. I was a Product Head developing and overseeing the UK regulator exam products at Kaplan. Alongside this, I also had (and still have) a Client Management role. So, I look after some of our large exam clients.

I worked my way up to the Head of Banking and Finance and I’ve now been in this role for two years. I’ve got a small (but perfectly formed!) tutor faculty that are dedicated to banking and finance qualifications. I still oversee the UK regulatory exam products, but my current role is to oversee the Banking and Finance Division, which also delivers exam training for the CFA, CAIA and FRM qualifications, as well as non-exam technical and behavioural skills courses for finance professionals.

What is your previous experience before Kaplan?

I’m a Chartered Accountant. I qualified in 1994, so I come from an accountancy and corporate finance background. I worked as an accountancy tutor for three years, then switched to Financial Markets training, and in 2000 became a director of a start up training company where I worked for ten years.

After some time off, I joined Kaplan in 2013 and worked my way up from there. So I have accounting and teaching experience, have helped build and run a training company, and run after a division at Kaplan UK.

What made you move to banking training from accountancy?

After a few years of accountancy training I wanted to look for something new and exciting, hence the move into the banking and finance sector.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I think the variety. It’s nice looking after several functions. The learning curve has been steep, and I’ve had to pick up responsibilities that I’ve not had at Kaplan before. Also the fact that I’m still having to roll my sleeves up and keep learning keeps my day-to-day work life interesting.

How would you describe the teaching styles at Kaplan?

In terms of my faculty team, every one of them is a completely different character. There’s no set template for being a successful tutor. There is a common standard to which they all teach, but they all inject their own personalities into their teaching.

A lot has changed for us as a result of COVID. Previously, we didn’t have Live Online learning products run from the UK for our banking and finance qualifications. But when COVID hit, we switched all courses online, and now we have a full timetable of UK tutors delivering classes via Live Online and face-to-face.

Other providers have gone down a much more digitally focused route, but we still believe that learners benefit from the classroom and the interaction that it brings and should have that option available. At the moment we have a blend of learning methods, so I’d say that we’ve got one of the most flexible ranges of teaching options for banking and finance.

With courses such as CFA, for example, they require a tuition phase where you learn the content, and then a revision phase where you practice questions. We’re finding at the moment that there is a trend for students to opt for flexibility with Live Online for the tuition phase, and then return to the classroom for the more interactive and intensive revision phase - to be able to ask questions during the class, speak to the tutor and sort out their queries on the spot. So it’s really beneficial being in the classroom for that phase.

What can learners expect from studying at Kaplan?

Let’s take an example - let’s use the CFA UK Investment Management Certificate (IMC). IMC is one of the best recognised entry-level regulatory exams for the fund management industry. It has a long-established reputation with over a 20 year history, and over 2,000 candidates sit IMC exams every year. It’s also an approved qualification for managing investments by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The IMC syllabus covers the threshold competency knowledge required by professionals involved in portfolio management, research analysis, and other front office investment activities. When studying IMC, learners cover key content areas appropriate for these roles including economics, accounting, investment practice, regulation, and ethics.

Expert tutors at Kaplan bring the syllabus material to life - making it understandable, whatever your background - and give great advice on how to study and how to prep for the real exam, including exam tips and exam technique. Tutor input and insights are available however you study - in a face-to-face or Live Online classroom, or via On Demand recorded content. Combined with hundreds of chapter questions and four full mock exams, you will feel confident and well-prepared in the real exam.

The IMC qualification can also be combined with CFA Level 1 to meet the exam standards required for advising individual investors as a retail investment adviser. Plus the IMC syllabus covers approximately 30% of the CFA Level 1 curriculum, so is a great stepping stone for anyone looking to master the core skills to take into CFA studies.

Are there any trends or news that you’re keeping a close eye on?

This year we released an ESG On Demand product, sponsored by Schweser in the US, which is the first move that we’ve made in the ESG qualifications space.

We’re looking to get carbon neutral by 2030, so I think that’s definitely one thing that we’re keeping an eye on. We’ve also run non-exam courses in the ESG sphere, and we’ve hosted webinars to promote understanding and awareness of ESG awareness.

Although ESG isn’t a profession, it’s something that affects us all and something we should be striving towards. So, ESG is something that you’d like to promote to be embodied within all organisations.

Progress your career today

If you’re interested in gaining that much-needed knowledge in ESG investing, have a browse of our CFA Institute Certificate in ESG Investing course available online now.

If you’re interested in a career in the banking and finance industry, or just want to progress further in your current role, take a look at our banking and financial services qualifications.

Interested in starting your studies?

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