The following is my opinion after following NSE, BSE, NISM and Indian Stock Markets since past many years and also after undertaking various NISM, NCFM, BCFM exams. Before coming to any conclusion, let me provide you a short history about both NCFM and NISM.

History of NCFM:

NSE’s Certifications in Financial Markets (NCFM) are practical oriented examinations developed by NSE. The primary objective of having NSE’s Certifications was to ensure a bare minimum knowledge about the financial products, trading systems, etc. and therefore, these certifications were made mandatory by NSE prior to registering its members on the stock exchange.

Besides, NSE, as a stock exchange also wanted to educate the securities market participants and the Indian community as a whole about various aspects of Indian Stock Market. They started this initiative on a large scale in the form of NCFM Certifications and were successful in doing so. However, considering the fact that Indian market participants were not so mature and professionalized, the level of difficulty for most of NCFM Certifications were kept at a low level. Soon, it become very easy for people to clear these certifications easily.

Why NISM was born?

As the number of NCFM exam takers went up, NSE saw these certifications as a money minting machine and decided to continue with its low difficulty level. Other stock exchanges, namely, BSE, MCXSX (now MSEI) also launched similar certifications and made it mandatory for their members to have these certifications before registering on their respective stock exchange.

Soon, SEBI sensed that brokers/members were now required to undertake multiple certifications to register themselves on the stock exchange, i.e., NCFM Certification for NSE, BCFM Certification for BSE and so on. SEBI, therefore, took this initiative of having a common certifying body for certification of people working in Indian securities markets and NISM was assigned this responsibility. Thus, NISM Certifications was born in 2009.

What are NISM Certifications?

NISM Certification Examinations are the most authentic, practical and mandatory Certifications available for various areas of Indian securities market. The Certifications are mandated by SEBI under SEBI (CAPSM) Regulations, 2007 which itself gives them the necessary credibility. What this means is that all brokers, members, mutual fund distributors, traders, dealers and other market participants who were earlier required to pass the exchange level examination (i.e., NCFM, BCFM, etc.) are now required to pass a single NISM Exam and get access the stock exchange’s broker terminal.

Exam Maintenance:

Unlike NCFM Certifications which are not revised since ages, NISM Certifications undergo regular maintenance and are updated regularly. Personally, I have seen every exam getting updated once every year.

Study Material:

Study Material for NISM Certifications is available free of cost in soft copy format and also for purchase at economical price across various book stores as well as online. I recently tried to purchase study material for one of the NCFM Certifications and I am still clueless on where to find it.

Regular Updates:

Ever since I have passed NISM Certification Examination, I have started receiving regular updates from NISM about any new updates about the products or regulation. These updates keeps us updated about the market.

Recent Trends:

Off late, almost all brokers, traders, dealers, merchant bankers, mutual fund distributors, derivatives dealers and other market participants have already moved to NISM Certifications. There are hardly any takers from market participants for NCFM Exams these days.

NCFM, however, still continue to milk the cash-cow through their sales teams. There have been, however, a shift in strategy though. Instead of targeting capital market participants, NSE now sells NCFM exams by packaging them as knowledge-oriented exams to college students at graduate and under-graduate levels.


IMHO, it may make sense for a college graduate to undertake NCFM exam but he/she as well may rather take a practical, authentic, updated NISM Certification Exam as it will provide them a license to work in the market.

While NSE's NCFM lacks updation and the required rigour, NISM fills up the gap with updated, authentic and practical certifications.

Useful Links & Sources:

NISM Certification Examinations

Free NISM Mock Tests

Premium NISM Mock Tests

NISM Study Material Download

In case you have any feedback about the above article, please write your comments below.

This article was originally posted at PrepCafe Blog as Which Certification Exam is better - NISM or NCFM?

About PrepCafe:

PrepCafe provides NISM Mock Tests / NISM Practice Exams, Study Material and related content to help you pass real NISM / NCFM Certification Examinations. All our examinations are of premium quality and moderately priced. You can purchase our NISM mock exams after one-time registration on our website We hope that you will find these exams useful in passing your NISM Certification Exams.

From India, Mumbai
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