Momentum for Finance-oriented Studies Has Picked Up Since Advent of Bachar Reforms

The forward momentum of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and the implementation of the Bachar Commission's recommendations on banking and capital market reform have led to a surge in enrollment in those colleges and higher education institutions offering courses on the capital market and finance professions.

The reason behind the significant rise in the number of participants in finance and capital market courses is evident in the data provided by Starting Point, a placement firm for finance-accounting workers. The company's figures indicate a 25-percent increase in demand for accounting workers in 2006 as compared to 2005, mostly for junior positions and middle management jobs, such as bookkeepers, economists, internal auditors and financial managers.

Starting Point CEO Ehud Cohen says the increase in demand for accounting personnel resulted in commensurate wage hikes of up to 10 percent in 2006. The capital market is also experiencing a significant increase in demand for workers. The last quarter of 2006 saw a rise of 5-10 percent. Most of the demand is for experienced investment consultants and portfolio managers, licensed pension fund consultants and marketers, analysts and sales people.

Naftali Mendelovich, director of the Megamot college for capital market and finance studies, says the increase in the number of courses in financial consulting began in the second half of 2005, when the Bachar recommendations were published. The momentum for enrollment in such courses picked up in February 2005, when the Knesset approved the recommendations.

"The capital market is maturing," Mendelovich says, "and the public has begun adopting a policy of 'financial activism,' taking a greater interest in the management of their savings and investing them in the capital market and pension savings institutions. This means they need a higher level of professional services."

The reforms in the capital market have also increased competition among the financial institutions - banks, investment houses and insurance companies, which now also need more market and consulting professionals.