Why Go For Financial Certifications ?

Most newbies wish to find out how financial certifications help them with their professional aspirations and which exam makes most sense to go for.

Considering the fact that the candidates are from different backgrounds, the answer cannot be generalized. There are some who are already, in some way are related to the finance industry, some coming with IT backgrounds, some already possess a solid knowledge of financial products and involved instruments and a good general understanding of the industry, then there are those who before going for graduation in quant degree, would like to build up a more solid foundation with an official exam.

Some of the most sought after certifications are:

> Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) offered by CFA Institute (formerly known as AIMR):

Three levels -

* The Level I : introduction to asset valuation, financial reporting and analysis, and portfolio management techniques.

* The Level II :asset valuation, and includes applications of the tools and inputs (including economics, financial reporting and analysis, and quantitative methods) in asset valuation.

* The Level III : portfolio management, and includes strategies for applying the tools, inputs, and asset valuation models in managing equity, fixed income, and derivative investments for individuals and institutions.

> Financial Risk Manager (FRM) offered by GARP - Global Association of Risk Professionals

Two Parts -

Part I:

* Financial Markets and Products

* Foundations of Risk Management

* Quantitative Analysis

* Valuation and Risk Models

Part II:

* Market Risk Measurement and Management

* Credit Risk Measurement and Management

* Operational and Integrated Risk Management

* Risk Management and Investment Management

* Current Issues in Financial Markets

> Professional Risk Managers (PRM) offered by PRMIA - Professional Risk Managers’ International Association

Four Exams -
* EXAM I: Finance Theory, Financial Instruments and Markets
* EXAM II: Mathematical Foundations of Risk Measurement
* EXAM III: Risk Management Practices
* EXAM IV: Case Studies, PRMIA Standards of Best Practice, Conduct and Ethics, Bylaws

Then there are others like :
> The Financial Services Authority (FSA), a universal British finance regulator; you can take these two exams either together or separately, and there’s also certificates in Investment Management and Corporate Finance if you’re going down that route. (www.sii.org.uk)

> Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA) - focuses the fundamental concepts and techniques for modeling and managing risk

> Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) - centres around knowledge in the identification, measurements and management of risk within risk–bearing enterprises

> Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA) - deals with financial decisions concerning retirement benefits, life insurance, annuities, health insurance, investments, finance, and enterprise risk management are made, including the application of advanced concepts and techniques for modeling and managing risk. (http://www.soa.org/education)

The thing they all have in common is that these certifications:
> help you to better equip yourself with the essential knowledge to pursue a career in finance
> empower you by adding credentials to your resume
> expand your professional opportunities
> provides you with the ability to network with some of the world’s leading finance professionals

Let’s consider what the most sought after certifications have in store for you :

Talking from curriculum perspective:

The FRM curriculum goes into the detail on areas of financial and non-financial risk while the CFA curriculum provides a broad view of financial analysis in general.

The FRM Level 1 syllabus will overlap with some part of the CFA curriculum, mainly in the areas of quantitative analysis, portfolio theory, derivatives, and fixed income securities etc.

The FRM and CFA overlap at Level 2 is minimal. Still, some concepts that are mentioned briefly in the CFA curriculum, such as value at risk, credit risk, risk budgeting, and hedge funds, are expanded upon in level 2 FRM curriculum.

Exclusive to the FRM exams are readings on operational and integrated risk management, Basel II, current issues in financial markets, and case studies in risk management.

Broadly speaking, the FRM exams tend to have more of a quantitative focus than the CFA exams.

Regarding PRM syllabus, it’s almost the same as FRM syllabus with an overlap of almost 80-90%.
PRM is a bit more extensive and rigorous on quantitative part. CFAs or Actuaries who want a risk management certification prefer PRM since it grants them exemption of upto 2 exams.

CFA and FRM Exam are slightly more popular among test- takers and among employers because it has a longer history, however PRM is quickly gaining ground and all three designations have come to be equally respected.

Talking about the job opportunities:
The key thing to note is that job markets are diverse.
The CFA is helpful if you want to work in equity research or, say, become a debt analyst.
The FRM/PRM would be more relevant to a risk manager.
For other Financial Services jobs (e.g., consulting, sales, management), these credentials are elements that complement your overall presentation.
Like the MBA, they don’t buy you advancement per se, rather they enhance your resume.

Let me assure you that among the industry, there is NO prevailing ‘argument’ for or against one of the exams.

So take a look at the syllabi, test-structure and most importantly your long term career goals to make out which one suite you the best.
Once you zero-in, take the plunge!

Third Party World Financial Group Review – Don’t Join Until You Read This Article!

As a network marketer, with almost 10 years of financial services experience, I'm often approached by World Financial Group representatives to take a look at their business. And, while I never became a WFG rep myself, I did do quite a bit of research on how they started, what they sell, how what their track record has been. If you’re looking into the World Financial Group business opportunity, don’t join… at least, not until you read this review. In this short article review, I will highlight WFG's background, the various services they market, their pay plan and, whether or not WFG is a scam.

World Financial Group, formerly known as World Marketing Alliance (WMA), is headquartered in Duluth, Georgia and was originally founded by Hubert Humphrey in 1991. Before starting WMA, Humphrey was the #1 Producer for A.L. Williams, now known as Primerica. After Art Williams sold his company to Sandy Weill and The Travelers Group, Humphrey decided it was time to start his own company.

Today, Hubert Humphrey is no longer part of the company and WFG is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Aegon, one of the world’s largest life insurance and pension groups, and a strong provider of investment products. WFG markets various financial services, including life insurance, investments and mortgage products though a multilevel marketing model. Several of World Financial Group's industry partners include some big names including, Pacific Life, TransAmerica, John Hancock and Hartford Life.

As of this writing, the company has a sales force of 85,000 life insurance licensed representatives, and is doing business in the United States and Canada. It’s rumored that the company recruits close to 10,000 new associates every single month, which is pretty impressive for a financial services-based direct sales company.

To join the company, there is a start-up cost of $100 ($125 in Canada) plus any licensing costs that the state in which you live charges. Give or take, it will probably total anywhere between $500-$1,000 for all your licenses, and about 20-40 hours of licensing time. Unlike other network marketing companies that allow you to make money the minute you join, WFG requires it’s reps to get licensed before they can get paid. And, while this might look like a negative point to some people, keep in mind that because you’re dealing with financial products, you must be licensed. The cool thing is that, once you do get licensed, you can make some big commissions for simply writing sales.

Another aspect of WFG’s compensation plan is that while there is a licensing requirement, and it will take a little longer to train people because you’re dealing with financial products that may get complicated, you only need a handful of producers to make a good income. For example, you can potentially make a multiple six-figure annual income with just 25 active reps.Obviously, you will need to bring in a lot more than 25 people to get 25 people producing, especially because only a small percentage of recruits will get licnesed, and from those that get licensed, only a handful will actually produce. Even still... building 25 producers, who sell 2 or 3 products monthly, is a lot more do-able than building a team of 15,000 to 20,000 reps.

Lastly, there are several other incentives in place including: Contests and trips, a Luxury Car Program, Superbowl Rings and stock incentives you can earn for building a strong business.

With that said, you do have to be aware of all the fees you can incur for building your WFG business. Besides the licensing costs I mentioned earlier, there are costs to do other lines of business, especially if that line of business requires a state license. There’s also E&O Insurance (Malpractice insurance for financial representatives) that will run you close to $100 a month. Also, may be some fee to do business in other states, depending on what products you plan on selling in those states. If you’re serious about building a financial services organization with WFG, then don’t get too caught up with these fees. After all, if you were to start a traditional financial services firm, you would easily pay much, much more than this.

In closing, World Financial Group (WFG) is definitely not a scam. It may not be for everyone, but it is clearly not a scam. If you put in the time and effort, you can actually build a very lucrative business and make a multiple six-figure income a year.With that said, simply joining WFG does not mean you are guaranteed success. The only thing WFG gives you is a chance to build a business.Ultimately, your success will rely on your ability to brand yourself, market and generate more leads than you can get to. It’s extremely vital, if you’re serious, to obtain the knowledge and skills that will allow you to personally sponsor 10-20 reps a month. Without knowing how to generate leads, even though WFG is a great opportunity, you will be dead in the water.

Establishing A Panama Financial Services Corporation

In Panama, you can establish your very own Financial Services Corporation. This corporation is going to be established and be essentially the same as any other SA Bearer Share corporation in Panama. But it will be different from other corporations because you will have a license to engage in financial activities in Panama.

As with all other corporations in Panama, your privacy will be protected and actively guarded. The license and all documents will be in the name of the corporation, and the officers of the corporation may be people who do not have any shares in the corporation and are there only through your appointment. But since records are not kept about the ownership of the corporation, then your anonymity is guaranteed.

If you establish a financial services corporation in Panama, your license will give you the liberty to provide general financial consulting services to other corporations, individuals and other business and legal entities in Panama. When you have the license of a Panama financial services corporation, you will have the power to offer payment processing services in Panama. As a financial services corporation, you have the right to offer your payment processing services to debit card and credit card companies.

A financial services corporation in Panama can also offer what is commonly known as accounts receivable financing. This is also known as factoring. As a Panama financial services corporation, you can buy other businesses? accounts receivable at a discount. These accounts receivables are typically converted to cash within one to three months. Through factoring, businesses short on cash can finance their business operations on the basis of expected income. The financial services corporation earns money through the actual value of the accounts receivable and the amount used to purchase them.

As a financial services corporation in Panama, your license also entitles you to do some trading of precious metals. You are allowed to buy and sell gold, silver and platinum. Your type of license will allow you to do only one of two things in this scenario: buy and sell wholesale OR buy and sell retail. In the latter case, your corporation?s directors should be Panamanians.

Finally, a Panama financial services corporation also has the license to trade foreign currency. So in this case, your corporation can offer money changing services. However, you have to make sure that you follow the stipulation that requires you to file a monthly report of foreign currency trading transactions handled that are more than $10,000.

But a financial services corporation in Panama is not authorized to perform all the functions of a bank. To illustrate, you cannot receive direct deposits like the banks can. Your corporation is not authorized to offer financial administration services and you cannot represent yourself as a debt collection agency.

If you are thinking of forming an offshore corporation in Panama that offers you anonymity, asset protection, as well as a decent income earning potential, then a financial services corporation may be just the perfect option for you.