UK Financial Regulation - Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments

My day job has me working on algorithmic trading systems. Not the clever bits, but bits that could be very expensive if they go wrong. Someone seems to have decided that writing trading systems should be controlled somewhat like trading itself. So, I'm doing exams to become an FCA approved person. If you don't know what that means, enjoy your ignorance!

I'm doing three exams - regs, securities and derivatives. This is the 'Official Learning and Reference Manual' for regs. It's rubbish. It's dull as dishwater, and explains things in a way that assumes you know what's being explained already. It took me a long time to work out the difference between an authorised person and an approved person (hint: an authorised person is not a human being).

As well as being tedious legalese interspersed with bad clip-art, it's not good preparation for the exam. Much of the book is general waffle that will never get turned into questions. The questions are multiple choice on tedious minutae that need to be memorised (so the exam won't actually demonstrate a mastery of the overall intention of the material, only spurious details). Of course, the way they're presented doesn't make it easy to do so. And the chapters are pointlessly unequal - six chapters, with one chapter accounting for half the questions in the exam, which makes breaking the work into chunks much more difficult.

I guess the idea is to make it more lucrative to sell courses on top that explain the obfuscated content. I'm signed up for such a course. It has a lot of online content. The test questions are hopeless. They're miscategorised by chapter (so any attempt to use them for revision means you see questions you haven't done yet), and in a number of cases they refer to things that aren't even in the edition of the course I'm reading. *sigh* Hopefully the in-person course is better.

These test questions are horrible. They're multiple choice, but they're trying to be tricky multiple choice. This means some are 'memorise this table' questions, but far more tedious are the ones where the answer would be obvious, except that the question itself obfuscates what it's trying to get at, through remarkably legalistic use of words. Reading the explanation of the answer is a bit of an eye opener.

And of course, most of the material actually covers stuff that's absolutely nothing to do with my job. It's a rubbish book for a rubbish course with a rubbish exam for irrelevant stuff. Regulation's good, right?

Posted 2013-08-26.