Interviews and Reviews

An Interview with the CEO of Certificate in Finance and Technology (CFT)

The Certificate in Finance and Technology (CFT) is a fintech training provider. CFT offers fintech courses plus fintech exams Online  and certification. We had a chat with the CEO, Sanjay Bhandari and the Team at CFT London. See how the Certificate in Finance and Technology helps companies upskill their tech teams, and what they have to say about their progress;

1) How did the Certificate in Finance and Technology (CFT) start and where did the idea come from?

Our team has over 20 years of experience working in finance and technology for the major investment firms. I myself worked on the trading floor at Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, building eTrading for futures. I was looking for a learning program or qualification to help me understand both finance and technology and there was nothing available. Years later I became a learning consultant working with large investment firms like Credit Suisse and JP Morgan, helping to upskill their tech teams. Very quickly it became apparent that firms needed their people to have a good grasp of both finance and technology, and so the qualification was born.

2) Why do you think proficiency in fintech is important?

With increasing automation using technology, the integrity of the financial system relies on the proficiency of the professionals who are designing these solutions. There is certainly a lot of hype in Fintech, yes there has been some disruption in this space, but the big changes are about to come. When was the last time you walked into a branch? In fact most people try to avoid the terrible experience of having to stand in line and talk to someone who will tell you to use a machine that is not really working. This is a bold statement, but there is nothing in banking that can’t be automated.

3) Who is qualified to enrol and register for the CFT programme?

Someone who is already working in technology at a financial institution and wants to further their career, or anyone who desires to do so. There is no prior knowledge needed; everything you need to achieve the qualification is included in the program. You can improve your job prospects with the qualification, and the CFT has a scheme to introduce our students to some of our corporate clients when they have completed the program.

4) What makes the course offered by CFT different from those offered by other professional bodies or colleges?

Two things differentiate the CFT. The depth of the training material because of the expertise of our faculty, and the flexibility in how you take the course and the exam.

Nothing else comprehensively covers key financial subjects and technology topics in a single program leading to a recognised qualification people can use to demonstrate proficiency. In addition, the flexibility in how you study and take the course are unique to the CFT.

5) Looking at the number of students already enrolled for your programme; do you think people are interested in deepening and widening their knowledge in financial and technology?

We are seeing a lot of interest from all over the world. Since launching the course we have seen strong demand for the qualification, indicating that this course is filling a need which had not otherwise been met. Clients like Citi, HSBC, Fidelity, BNP and JP Morgan are putting their technologists through this programme.

6) How practical is your course?

It is very practical. Each module goes through worked examples of how you would  solve real business problems in finance using technology.

7) What kinds of jobs are available for candidates who have completed a CFT course?

The jobs that our candidates are either doing, or will go on to do include:

  • Developer
  • Technology Analyst
  • Business Analyst/Senior Business Analyst
  • QA Manager
  • Data Scientist
  • Security Analyst
  • Finance and Risk Technology
  • Project Mangers

We also introduce our individual graduates to our corporate clients as they are constantly looking for new talent and recognise that the CFT is a benchmark for the skills that are needed.

As well as training individuals who are looking for a career in finance, we work with HSBC, Nomura, BNP, Citi, AIG and others training their staff. Some of these will be graduate who have just joined the business and will not have a thorough understanding of the domain within which their organisation works. Others are seasoned members of staff who benefit from having a formal training program and appreciate having the opportunity to work towards a professional qualification.

8) Are there any fintech innovations that have been developed by CFT, its students or alumni?

We are currently working with a large finance firm in the US to help them price premiums for Pay-as-you-drive insurance. They are utilising concepts around machine learning from our Data Science module in Level 3, to help them understand how to analyse and pull out patterns from data to stay ahead of disruptors.

9) What factors should prospective students consider when choosing a fintech course?

How widely it is recognised. How easy and flexible is it to study and ensure that the syllabus covers what they need to know.

10) Based on what you know in the fintech industry, what do you think are the most important fintech sectors?

Right now, the most important topics are payments, investments and banking. For me that translates into security and data science. The payments industry has taken a beating from disruptive firms such as TransferWise and technologies such as blockchain. Whilst all major finance firms have tried to become innovators in this field, the big money is in adding apps to social media platforms to enable fast and efficient payments. The next step on from this is mainstream peer-peer lending and robo investing. Ultimately this requires an increase in security and data science. If you don’t understand security and can’t demonstrate it, be prepared to be left behind. Just as easily as you can switch where you buy your coffee from, be prepared for the same to happen in banking. If you can’t demonstrate a good return on investments using good data science, customers will easily switch from one provider to another.

11) What other advice can you give to people thinking about an education and career in fintech?

It’s simply not enough to be a good coder any more. You need to understand what is happening in both finance and technology to build good solutions. Be wary of hype because there is a lot of it. Even though something is shiny and new, if it isn’t robust, when it comes to finance the repercussions can be huge.

12) Is there any other important message you would like to pass across to readers?

If you are interested in Fintech, study the full landscape. Understand the wider finance and banking system before you dig too deep. Once you’ve done that, find an area you really enjoy, that excites you and focus on that. No matter how ‘cool’ it may seem, if you don’t enjoy that area of fintech, you won’t be able to innovate and won’t deliver value in the long-term.

See the CFT profile on Tech Directory. For more information, please visit the CFT website.

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