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Take your next career step in CASS

01 Jun

CASS is one of the hottest buzzwords in financial services right now, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. With the recent FCA updates of CASS regulations and the ongoing attention on transparency in the financial sector, it seems more and more likely that a level of knowledge and experience of CASS will be invaluable in the industry. That’s why we’re looking for brilliant new team members with CASS experience to join the IFDS family, helping us to ensure we’re adhering to all regulations and giving the best possible service to our clients and their consumers.

Daniel Harper, our Head of CFD Technical & Regulatory Control, sat down to help shed some light on what CASS is and why it’s becoming increasingly important for people in our sector to understand.

At its simplest, what is CASS?

CASS is the main regulation for protection of consumers’ assets and money when transacting with an investment firm. It sets out strict rules that give guidance to firms on how they should treat assets and money in a transaction. It’s not just applicable for IFDS and the firms we work with – it’s a set of UK-wide regulations that are applicable to investment banks, general insurance companies and anyone who is taking money or assets from an individual when conducting designated investment business.

What does CASS do?

CASS is all about protecting consumers and business continuity planning for insolvency. The spotlight on it has become brighter and brighter over the past few years, most notably in the wake of the collapse of major financial services firms. Following the 2008 Lehman Brothers’ collapse and insolvency, the delays in repatriating assets to clients and investors were deemed to be far too long and the FCA tightened their CASS grip and introduced new protocols. At its most basic, CASS protects consumers’ assets in the case of a firm failing.

How has CASS changed in recent years?

CASS has undergone a makeover in the past few years, with the bulk of the new rules coming into effect in June 2015. For IFDS, adhering to these new rules has been the biggest regulatory project we’ve ever undertaken. It’s impacted every area of the business, from resourcing and system changes through to increased engagement and oversight by management companies. You can’t outsource responsibility for CASS, and firms know that they ultimately have regulatory responsibility for it. Because of this and the tightening of the rules, companies increasingly want to have a stronger oversight of IFDS and understand what we’re doing. Similarly, customers can have greater clarity on where their money is being held.

What steps have we implemented to meet the new CASS requirements?

We’ve responded to the FCA regulations by looking to introduce more specialist staff with CASS understanding. We’re bringing in completely new roles specifically to deal with the function, as well as seeking out experience in the subject when we’re hiring more general roles.

One specialised role we’re introducing is that of a CASS Coordinator, which will be a service offering for management companies. This role will give companies a dedicated person they can direct to for all CASS enquiries, ensuring incidents and queries are managed quickly and well.

What do I need to succeed in a CASS role?

While people with previous CASS experience are great, we also look for problem solvers who can triage incidents and quickly understand where they need to go to get answers. Ideally you’ll be an out-of-the-box thinker who identifies trends and can put solutions in place to address those trends that are troublesome.

Why should I consider training in CASS?

CASS touches every single part of our business. In the past, people have thought it was something that was dealt with only in compliance and Client Finance, but recognition of its scope is growing in the financial services world. For us, it’s the number one topic that clients want to talk about, with the FCA assuring those in the industry that there will be oversight on every single element of administration.

CASS knowledge is advantageous for everyone, and while you can learn some of it on the job, there is additional training you can undertake to give you an edge over the competition. The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment runs a financial qualification called an Investment Operations Certificate that features a client money and assets module, giving a holistic view of CASS across the whole financial services industry. Even if you’re not looking to take on a CASS-specific role, it’s still extremely worthwhile to have knowledge in the area as it’s only going to keep growing in importance. If you can show the aptitude towards it you’ll only have more opportunities, both within IFDS and elsewhere in your career.

Sound like something you could be interested? Check out our current vacancies here.

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