What’s the Best Way to Ensure that You Pass the CISI’s Financial Markets Exam?

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CWM – Financial Markets 

Are you thinking about sitting the CISI’s Financial Markets exam? Are you confused about what’s involved and what you need to know?


Here is a simple explanation!


This exam is the introductory paper of a suite of three that make up the Institute’s Level 7 Chartered Wealth Manager (CWM) qualification. This is their top award and the benchmark for private client investment advisers and managers, if you want to demonstrate that you have the highest standards of knowledge and expertise.


The paper has been used since 2008 and in that time, the pass rate has hovered around 40-50%. On occasions, it has even dipped lower than this. Pass rates for the second and third papers in the CWM qualification have been historically better than Financial Markets, so why is there such a low pass rate with this exam, when many of the students taking it have a good level of either industry or academic experience, or both?


  1. Firstly, many students don’t appreciate just how wide the scope of the syllabus is. It covers an enormous area including economics, company analysis, investment risk, asset classes, alternative assets and the operation of the securities markets. It is quite unrealistic if you’re studying this much at this level, to rely on a single course book to get you through the exam, regardless of who publishes it. At the end of this article, I have provided a list of suggested titles that may help in this regard.. There are lots of other good books out there as well as other sources such as industry periodicals and the internet. Make sure you read as widely as possible particularly where covering unfamiliar ground. You adopt a very high-risk strategy with this paper when you learn only a few topics hoping that the rest won’t come up. Invariably they do!


  1. Next, it is vital that you follow a structured learning plan and that you start this at the earliest possible opportunity. Allocation of quality learning time for this exam is essential, given the scope of this syllabus. This can and has been achieved by students on their own, but often the process can be more successful if you add some formal quality classroom learning. Not only will this help to speed up the process of understanding the syllabus; it will also help with my next point – exam technique. Learn actively. By that I mean note taking, creating learning aids such as diagrams, charts and tables and cement knowledge with revision questions. Passive reading at this level will not be enough.


  1. Exam technique is the final, but very large piece in the jigsaw. With this module in particular, you have to get to grips with what the examiner is looking for. This is not rocket science. You don’t have to come up with the most ingenious and original answer to gain full marks. Answer the task set. In this exam it is essential that you look out for the key words and phrases within the body of the question. If you are asked to analyse a topic or situation, don’t just regurgitate everything you know about the subject. You may have to introduce your answer with a brief summary of understanding and then you move on to your analysis. What are the pros? What are the cons? Can you give a relevant example to demonstrate your points? If you are asked to assess the suitability of a suggested solution, your analysis must account for the particular circumstances provided rather than generic strengths and weaknesses.


The three hours allocated to the paper will seem a lot, especially in terms of writing for this length of time now that we have become more used to using computers. However, many students still run out of time in the exam, even though they have prepared well. There are three sections to this exam with different lengths of question that you need to get used to. As is often the case, practice makes perfect. You won’t get everything right straight away. You will have to build your exam technique alongside learning the syllabus. Over time, you will realize what is needed and importantly, how long it is going to take you in the exam. Again, ongoing guidance on technique from a reputable training organization can help to speed up the whole process leading to first-time success.


Financial Markets Reading List:

  • Global Securities Markets – George. W. Arnett
  • An Introduction to Bond Markets – Moorad Choudhry
  • The Theory and Practice of Investment Management – Frank. J. Fabozzi
  • Swaps and Other Derivatives – Richard. R. Flavell
  • Alternative Assets – Guy Fraser-Sampson
  • Derivatives Demystified – Andrew. M. Chisolm
  • Commodity Derivatives – Neil. C. Schofield
  • Ratios Made Simple – Robert Leach
  • FT Guide to Using and Interpreting Company Accounts – Wendy McKenzie
  • Basic Economics – Thomas Sowell




At Glascow Consulting we offer a comprehensive revision course over eight days, which includes a mock exam with feedback. For people who wish to study alone and attend a short revision course prior to the exam, we offer a two day revision workshop. Courses are scheduled to run in London and Liverpool. Speak to us if you would like us to deliver an in-company course for you at any location. In addition we offer one-to-one coaching, email support and separate mock exams. For full details and booking, go to www.Glascow.co.uk.


Glascow Consulting Ltd is a CISI Accredited Training Provider.


What Clients Say About Us

  • Jacob LytheInvestment Management Assistant

    The guidance and assistance I received throughout the exam process was perfect for me. The small classes and the support I received every step of the way, was a crucial factor in helping me get over the line. Cris and Kathryn helped me whenever I had any struggles, whether that be a question query or an issue with an exam sitting. I would highly recommend Glascow Consulting to colleagues and others within the Financial Services industry.

  • Chenji MengWealth Manager

    I was in a CISI level 6 training Advanced Financial planning workshop hosted by Cris and over the two days of the intensive course feel much more confident ahead of my exam. He explained material very clearly in every section of the syllabus. I have moved qualifications from CII to CISI and Cris was able to explain exam techniques relevant to CISI that was of great help. Would highly recommend Cris.

  • Ben BolgerSenior Financial Planner

    Cris supported me through the CISI Level 7 Diploma in Advanced Financial Planning and the CISI Level 7 Diploma in Wealth Management. His knowledge of the syllabus and the financial services industry is fantastic and the way in which he taught the course material was always extremely engaging and practical. He was quick to respond to all my questions and clarify anything I didn’t quite understand, whilst providing extensive learning material to work through. My level of confidence approaching the exams after working with Cris was far superior to when I had approached exams preparing either alone or with other training providers. I would without doubt recommend to anyone wanting to pursue exams with the CISI to get in touch with Glascow consulting and start working with Cris

  • Dan RoddyTraining & Development Manager, Rowan Dartington

    Our firm has worked with Glascow Training for several years now, during which time we have called on Cris’s considerable expertise numerous times. Cris has coached CISI exam candidates at all levels and the results have been excellent. The feedback from colleagues who have sought assistance has always reflected his excellent knowledge of both the technical topics and of exam craft. As a training manager I particularly value Glascow Consulting’s responsiveness and flexibility in providing us solutions that fit our needs and Cris’s insight and advice is highly recommended.

  • Richard BeardRelationship Director

    The Pension Transfers revision course was highly informative and well structured including time to practice past questions. The mock exam provided was also very useful and very detailed answers. What has also impressed me is the speed and quality of response from Cris to technical questions which I have asked following my attendance on the course. I believe that Cris’s help was instrumental towards me achieving a pass particularly as I had no practical experience in the subject.

  • John RadcliffeRelationship Director

    Cris thanks for your help during and after the CISI Pension Transfers and Planning Advice course, I found the course and your support invaluable.  My understanding and approach to answering the questions was much improved giving me more confidence in approaching the exam.  It was good to be able to have a wider debate and discussion around the aspects of the syllabus for which I needed more clarification particularly when I don’t work in the industry.

  • Mark RobinsonDirector & Chartered Financial Planner

    I attended a 2 day workshop in London with Cris in preparation for the first sitting of the new CISI Level 6 Certificate in Advanced Financial Planning exam (March 2020). Having come from doing CII exams Cris was able to clearly explain how the CISI exams differ and guide me through the key parts of the syllabus. His style of teaching had the right balance of intensity and detail without overloading or confusing me and I left feeling in a much more confident and focused position. As a result I passed the exam with Merit and would have no hesitation in recommending Cris to anyone looking to improve their chances of passing.

  • Charlotte MetcalfeAssistant Investment Manager

    I was lucky enough to have Cris Glascow as my tutor for the Chartered Wealth Masters. I cannot recommend him enough, I really believe there is no other tutor like him.  His approachable and relaxed nature made the whole learning experience really enjoyable. The depth and breadth of his knowledge is truly incredible and unique. I believe this gave us the real X factor to pass. No question was too much trouble for Cris. His clear teaching style with multiple methods, wealth of experience and speed and efficiency in responding to queries really makes him stand out from the industry. Cris played a momentous part in helping me qualify and I am forever grateful to him.

  • Jonathan DilleyAssociate Investment Manager

    I had the pleasure of learning from Cris as I was studying towards my CISI Level 7 Diploma in Wealth Management. Whilst studying with Cris I was continually impressed by his depth of knowledge, his wealth of experience as well as his ability to teach and encourage everyone on his courses. He adapts his tuition and material to the groups strengths and weaknesses which I feel is crucial when undertaking such qualifications that require a depth of understanding beyond that which most candidates would possess when begging the qualification.

    I would give Cris and Glascow consulting my highest recommendation, I not only completed my qualification in a timely manner but also learned gleaned valuable skills from Cris that without his tutelage I certainly wouldn’t possess today.

  • Kevin Bray, FPFSFinancial Planning Director

    Having recruited two trainee advisers for the company I wanted to be sure they were given the best possible training for their level 4  qualification. The decision was taken to find the budget to bring in someone who could help them get through this first time. I had concerns that a centrally organised workshop may not be the answer from previous experience as larger groups are not always effective for every individuals learning style it also meant I could not dovetail the training with their work commitments. I needed something bespoke and I needed the right trainer with the right attitude. 

    I ascertained that Cris Glascow came with CISI approval so that satisfied my due diligence. I made contact with him and found him to have a flexible attitude and a professional approach. We agreed that he deliver bespoke training events for my trainees as part of their exam preparations. 

    I never had any doubt in the fact they would pass all elements required first time with the expert help of Cris. They are now level 4 qualified with an embedded knowledge of financial services which they could not have gained from just reading the workbook.

    I was sufficiently impressed with Cris that I subsequently asked him to train myself and a newly hired Senior Adviser colleague in the new CISI Pension Transfer & Planning Advice exam. This presented a fresh challenge as it was a new exam and he had to teach us in a subject neither of us had experience in ( DB Pension Transfers) With his help we both passed this exam at the first time of asking which just goes to show " you can teach old dogs new tricks!

    Cris Glascow is an excellent financial services trainer. He has had a 100% success rate with our team and I cannot recommend him highly enough.

  • Victoria YungPerformance Measurement

    Cris Glascow was my tutor when studying for the CISI Level 7, Chartered Wealth Manager qualification, which I achieved in 2014. Cris was a brilliant tutor, not only did he cover relevant topics but he explained them in a very clear and concise manner. One of the most valuable parts of the support were the mock exams provided. They were set at the appropriate level, they were marked quickly and relevant feedback was provided. To have a well prepared, approachable and knowledgeable tutor is so important when studying for the CISI exams especially at higher levels and as such I would strongly recommend Cris as a tutor to anyone studying for CISI qualifications. He is an excellent tutor.

  • Robert ClarkeInvestment Advisor

    I am very grateful to Cris for helping me with my studies for the Applied Wealth Management CISI exam. Cris is an expert in all areas of course material and I have no doubt in recommending him to anyone looking to pursue financial qualifications.

    Cris was also very approachable outside of teaching hours which showed his genuine passion for teaching.

  • Samuel TaylorAssistant Investment Manager

    Cris tutored me through the CISI Wealth Management program and under his guidance I passed all three modules on first attempt. His advice and tutoring were invaluable, and he made himself available to answer questions and help out at all times of day. His customised questions and detailed answers were particularly useful. Thanks Cris, I'm sure I couldn't have done it without you

  • Matt DickinsonInvestment Manager

    Cris stands out as someone that genuinely understands both the content of his training material and the individual needs of those taking the course. His training sessions are well paced and flow naturally between topics, with sufficient time reserved for open conversations and individual questions. Cris succeeds in creating an engaging learning environment which is supported by an impressive pass rate. I would happily recommend him to anyone and will certainly be working with him again.

  • Neil WinkworthSenior Manager 

    I was fortunate enough to have Cris deliver training to me for a number of CFP modules to me at a big 4 consultancy. Cris was fantastic from start to finish - most notably he knows his subject matter inside-out, delivers this knowledge and responds to questions in a logical and methodical manner - breaking complex concepts down into manageable chunks - and with a sense of humour. I highly recommend Cris to anyone considering training within his fields of expertise.

  • Katherine TaskerInvestment Manager

    I had the pleasure of being taught by Cris for my Chartered Wealth Manager Qualification. Cris is enthusiastic, incredibly knowledgeable on his subject matters and teaches in a way that is easily understood. He is incredibly supportive, not only whilst in the training session but also by responding to questions on the material in personal study time. I felt well prepared for each of the exams I sat having been taught by Cris. Cris’ achievement record speaks for itself and I would be happy to recommend him to anyone who is looking for an excellent trainer for financial services exams

  • Sebastian TaylorInvestment Adviser

    I was fortunate enough to be taught by Cris for the revision course for Portfolio Construction Theory and the Applied Management course. His level of knowledge was second to none and I found his teaching methods to be very clear and easy to understand. Any questions I had out of class were answered very thoroughly and timely, even late at night and also on the weekends. I have no doubt that my pass success was attributable to Cris. I would definitely recommend him to anyone looking to study towards a financial exam.

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