By David Chilton
Special to the Toronto Sun
Passing the Canadian Securities Course is the first step towards a career in managing money. Now, thanks to a real time investment simulator, CSC students can put theory into practice with $500,000 of virtual currency.
The online simulator is one of a series of improvements the Canadian Securities Institute has introduced to mark the 40th anniversary of the course.
Student Darin Campbell is one of the half a million Canadians who has taken the CSC course
Jay Flye, a CSI vice-president, says the CSC Investment Simulator provides a real-life trading environment for students using the TSX and the TSX Venture Exchange.
"Simulation is part of the learning stream," Flye says. "It's to learn by doing. Users get a sense of what's happening to their clients' investment portfolios."
He explains that 65 per cent of CSC students have fewer than two years work experience, which shows that they are taking the course to advance their careers. That's why innovations such as the simulator are so important, Flye says.
Students use the simulator to buy or sell Canadian equities, bonds or mutual funds, and over the course of their studies they can watch the impact of the market on their clients' portfolios and make adjustments to their investment strategies.
Flye says the simulator provides students with three investor profiles. He characterizes them as conservative, middle-of-the-road and aggressive.
More than half a million Canadians have taken the CSC course since its introduction in 1964. They work in investment houses, banks, trust companies, insurance and other financial planning institutions.
Pamela Leeuwestein builds up her confidence as she works on the real time investment simulator
One of them is Simar Akhtar, an analyst for a global management consulting firm in Toronto. Akhtar, who passed the CSC course just before the investment simulator went online, calls its introduction "definitely a step in the right direction for the Canadian Securities Institute."
He says the simulator would have been a great resource for him when he was taking the course. Its obvious value is not just obtaining the knowledge it provides, but knowing how to apply that knowledge.
Builds up confidence
Another advantage of the risk-free simulator is the way it helps money managers in training build up their confidence, he points out, and younger students will appreciate learning in an online environment rather than relying on text books.
Simulation, whether at flight training centres, online or elsewhere, has been around for years. Flye says his organization's simulator was introduced in 1994 when it was owned by Simvest, now part of the Canadian Securities Institute and the outright owner of the CSC Investment Simulator.
Professor Grant Russell, director of the Accounting and Financial Management Program, School of Accountancy, University of Waterloo, is familiar with the CSC simulator and can be counted among its fans.
Students are given $500,000 in virtual money to make trades in real time.
The CSI Investment Simulator is based on the TSX and the TSX Venture Exchange.
Students can buy and sell Canadian equities, bonds and mutual funds.
The simulator provides profiles of a conservative, a middle-of-the-road and an aggressive investor.
65 per cent of CSC students have fewer than two years working experience and are taking the course to advance their careers.
"I wish there were other simulators of that high value and that low price," he says.
Russell, whose senior students have a real money investment portfolio to manage, says simulation forces his students to make decisions, realistic decisions, so even if they lose money they can try to lose less than the market.
Hit the ground running
"I want them to have the experience of risk," he says.
Russell can't say with any degree of certainty that CSC students who use the simulator will enjoy greater employment opportunity than those who don't (simulator experience is not yet mandatory for CSC students), but he does allow online simulation will provide them with "a good theoretical base and allow them to hit the ground running."
That sounds right. Plenty of online practise at hitching a ride on a bull or slipping away from an angry bear will make dealing with both animals a lot easier in the real world.
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