Are you considering a career change into the finance industry, specifically in the crypto sector? Have you been wondering how to incorporate Bitcoin into your financial planning? If so, the Certified Crypto Finance Expert (CCFE) course might be the right choice for you. In this article, I will share my experience with the CCFE course and give you an overview of what to expect.
How I got into Bitcoin and Co.
My journey into the Bitcoin rabbit hole began with my podcast. As a podcast host, I have had the pleasure of interviewing various guests who talked about what they do. Among these guests were Rino Borini and Julian Liniger, founders of the CCFE course. They piqued my interest in Bitcoin and made me wonder how to incorporate it into financial planning.
CCFE stands for Certified Crypto Finance Expert and is the leading Swiss Crypto & Blockchain training program for the financial industry. The course is SAQ certified and highly recognized in the industry. Since 2020, the program has been conducted 16 times (9 physical, 6 digital) and has produced 428 graduates. I attended the course in September 2022. This is my CCFE experience report.
Who is the CCFE for?
Before enrolling in the CCFE course, I had invested around 80 hours in Bitcoin and was looking for a shortcut. I was deciding between the CCFE course and a CAS in Digital Finance. Given that the course was only 2.5 days long, I decided to try the CCFE course first since it didn't require a significant time investment.
My classmates had different motivations for taking the course. Some were sent by their employers, while others saw it as an investment in their future. Some admitted to being afraid of being asked about Bitcoin by their clients and not being able to provide answers, while others simply wanted to earn quick money with cryptos - fair enough.
I can also see the value of CCFE for individuals who are drawn to the crypto world for personal reasons. The course provides an opportunity for a career change into the finance industry, specifically in the crypto sector.
In terms of age, we had a diverse group of participants. The youngest was 24 and the oldest was 58. Men outnumbered women, with only six female participants. It was interesting to note that we had two participants from Germany.
On the CCFE website, you can register for upcoming courses. You always have the option to choose between taking the course in German or English, either digitally or in person. In my opinion, there are massive advantages to attending the course in person:
Next, you will provide your personal information, company details, and the recipient of the invoice on the CCFE website. At the end of the registration process, you will be asked if you have a referral code. You can enter the code "FinanzFabio" with confidence and save CHF 200 on the course fees.
Shortly after, you will receive an invoice from Julia Gröninger for the CCFE. Julia is like the mother for all the course days, so always listen carefully when she speaks!
All preparation takes place in Google Classroom. After paying the invoice, you will receive an invitation link. In the Google Classroom, all course participants have the opportunity to introduce themselves. So, before the first day of class, you will already know who you will be meeting.
In addition to a class list and the course agenda, a few presentations and documents for effective course preparation will be uploaded here. Among other things, you will find the Bitcoin whitepaper and a blockchain glossary for preparation. Personally, I recommend that you read these documents carefully before the start of the course.
During the course itself, I noticed that I was well prepared thanks to my podcasts. Being modest, I would say that my level of knowledge was in the upper third of the course participants. So, it is worth it for you to listen to a few podcast episodes as well. At the end of this article, I will provide you with links to some episodes.
While it doesn't matter how much you already know for the course, having some basic knowledge certainly doesn't hurt. In our class, there were confessing beginners and people who had very advanced, almost expert knowledge. In my opinion, this is what makes the physical course so valuable.
First Half Day
The first 1.5 days were spent at the HWZ in Zurich. Don't make the mistake I did and look for the classroom in the main building. The course takes place in the adjacent building to the right of the main entrance. After checking your name off on the class list, you can choose a seat in the spacious classroom.
We started with an extensive round of introductions, which I have never found as interesting as in this CCFE course. We had everything represented in the class, from a normal customer advisor at a bank to a family office CEO, a regional insurance manager, and much more. Even a financial blogger was there - things you see.
Rino Borini started the session with a crypto introduction. If you don't know Rino yet, it's always a pleasure to listen to him as he doesn't hold back. He impressively showed why the old banking world should urgently take care of cryptocurrencies.
Alain Imhof, also from Relai, took us through a hands-on exercise. We downloaded the Relai app and created our own Bitcoin wallet. Using a QR code, we loaded a few sats worth CHF 5 onto our new wallet.
After class, we went to the House of Satoshi for an apéro, which was perfect for networking and taking a great group photo for a LinkedIn post.
Second Day - Morning
The second day was, in short, heavy. Thomas Lohbeck from Bitcoin-Mentoring GmbH started promptly at 8:15 am with his lecture on Bitcoin and the Bitcoin blockchain. Many misconceptions were cleared up, and practical examples of current payment options with Bitcoin were shown.
After the break, we continued with Blockchain 2.0, Smart Contracts, and Tokenization. Roger Darin, my God, does that man know a lot, showed the potential of tokens with his entertaining lecture. He honestly opened my eyes to this enormous potential.
Before lunch, we went full throttle with Nicola Plain, CEO of Aktionariat. Aktionariat is a trading platform for shares of small and medium-sized companies. The shares are issued via tokens. I was so convinced that I bought 100 shares of Aktionariat on the spot.
Learning by doing, as they say.
Second Day - Afternoon
After the lunch break, we continued with Regulation and Compliance, led by Tina Balzli. This subject interested me the least. It's not that Tina did a bad job, I just don't know when I'll ever have anything to do with it.
Adrian Fritz from 21 Shares introduced us to the world of DeFi. It's incredibly exciting to see everything that has already happened in the crypto world and what's yet to come.
The flood of information on this day was huge. Towards the end, you could feel yourself getting tired. The day was certainly interesting, but there was just so much to take in all at once.
I want to give a shoutout to all the lecturers at this point. They couldn't have been more different. Whether it was a suit-wearing woman or a teacher in a hoodie and cap, you could tell that they were teaching from practical experience. Everyone was able to immediately score points with their expertise and transfer their topic in an interesting way to us students.
Third Day - Morning
The second day of the CCFE takes place in Zug, Switzerland's so-called Crypto Valley. To be honest, when you enter this building, located very close to the train station, you are initially disappointed. I was expecting something futuristic and high-tech, not an old building with a small sign reading "CVLabs."
The classes were held on the top floor, with a cool view but uncomfortable seating. After a few hours of sitting, my butt was sore. There were no desks, so you had to balance your tablet or laptop on your lap, which was not ideal.
However, the instructors were once again the highlight of the day. Lidia Kurt from vision& gave an impressive presentation on the impact of Bitcoin in a portfolio. This is exactly why I signed up for the CCFE; I wanted to know how to best incorporate Bitcoin into financial planning.
I was pleasantly surprised by the presentation from Maerki Baumann, a private bank. Konstantinos Ntefeloudis showed us an interesting asset allocation strategy that included Bitcoin in the portfolio. Using a practical example, he explained the upsides and downsides of this approach.
Third Day - Afternoon
After lunch, organized by Julia and Rino, we continued with blockchain forensics. We learned how every transaction on the blockchain can be traced, which was demonstrated using the example of Silk Road.
Lucas Betschart from 21Analytics presented a use case for Travel Rule regulations. Lucas has been in the Bitcoin rabbit hole since 2013 and is a self-proclaimed Bitcoin maximalist. His knowledge on the subject seems to be endless.
Finally, Armin Schmid from Bitcoin Suisse showed us the payment options for Bitcoin. Now, I know how to invoice my services at FinanzFabio in Bitcoin.
I'll be honest with you, by the end of these two and a half days, your brain is fried. The closing apéro is well-deserved. The amount of information is overwhelming, especially since it's all new territory, even though I had heard some of it before.
Yes, the CCFE is not just given to you. For the exam, there were two dates, right on Monday and Tuesday after the course. You will be asked 20 multiple-choice questions, and you must answer 70% correctly. You have 30 minutes to complete the exam. Don't worry, the exam is not really difficult. An example of a test question: How many bitcoins will there be at most? 21 million. You're welcome, one question already answered correctly!
The exam is taken online and is open book. That is, the course instructor cannot really control whether you have the presentations of the course with you or whether you are searching on the internet. After the exam, you will see how many questions you answered correctly and thus know immediately whether you have passed. Officially, you will be informed during the week and receive your diploma by email.
That's it for the CCFE.
My biggest criticism of the entire CCFE program is the materials and language of instruction. I deliberately enrolled in the German-speaking course and therefore expected a German-speaking course. However, many of the presentations by the instructors were in English. Most of the lectures were in Standard German, but there were three that were in English - a shame!
There was also too much content, especially on days 1 and 2. One or two subjects less would have probably been better. Additionally, on the first half-day, more technical content could have been provided, and less organizational content. As for the third day, I can't say much about it yet.
The materials and presentations were uploaded to Google Classroom gradually, which isn't a problem in general, but sometimes it was a bit too close to the lectures.
For me personally, the instruction in Zug was unnecessary. Crypto Valley or not, Zurich is a better location for it. This is certainly due to the fact that I can get to Zurich in 20 minutes and need an hour to get to Zug. If you're from Zug, it's probably more convenient for you.
The team at CCFE has taken my review and criticisms seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they have improved and restructured many aspects. There is now more learning content on the first half-day in order to spread out the material over more time.
Currently, a new location is being sought for the third day, so it will no longer be held at the CV Lab in Zug. As soon as I know more, I will inform you here.
Since 2023, CCFE has also been offering a refresher course where specific topics are examined in more detail. Once I have taken this course, I will certainly provide a new review about it.
The CCFE was definitely the most engaging professional development course I have ever taken in the finance sector. This is largely due to the various instructors who teach from their practical experience, as well as their passion for the subject that they convey. In the crypto world, there are so many enthusiasts who are involved in this exciting and forward-thinking field, and this is very infectious.
The course leadership, including Julia, Rino, and Julian, also contribute to the positive atmosphere. Everything is just a little bit different, from the apéros to how they interact with participants. There is a consistently positive atmosphere throughout the 2.5 days.
Despite my criticisms, I am happy to recommend the CCFE to others. Given the price and time commitment, I have no complaints. I learned a lot of new information, some of which opened my eyes, and the networking opportunities were top-notch.
You can find the next course dates on the CCFE website, and spontaneous registrations are also not a problem.