CFA adds certification program

CFA Institute plans to launch in May an education certificate program designed to reach out to a new audience of investment industry staff outside the core portfolio management functions.

The launch will follow a pilot program, started this month, involving the $248.1 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Wilshire Associates and BlackRock (BLK), among other institutional investment organizations.

Called the Claritas Investment Certificate program, it seeks to raise the standard of industry knowledge, education and ethics among those who work alongside investment professionals, including in sales and marketing, client services, legal, operations, compliance and human resources, J.D. McCartney, CFA Institute public relations director, Americas, said in an interview.

The program is not aimed at accountants, although “accountants who want a foundational level of education to increase their level of knowledge and understanding of the investment industry may very well wish to take this program,” Sarah-Jane Purvis, public relations manager, Americas, said in an email.

CFA Institute initiated the program to strengthen confidence and ethics among non-core investment staff about the industry and their responsibilities — as well as to aid them in better communicating that trust with clients and others outside the industry — following the financial market crash, Mr. McCartney said.

The program has a curriculum of seven self-study modules covering industry overview, ethics and regulation, tools, investment instruments, industry structure, industry controls and client needs, all designed to deepen participants' understanding of the industry and their role in it.

While Mr. McCartney said CFA Institute has no estimate of demand for the program, an indication comes from a 2010 CFA Institute survey. Some 75% of responding CFA Institute members “say this is a need” and “indicate that personnel throughout their organization could benefit from investment-related education,” Mr. McCartney said.

A website, CFAInstitute.org/Claritas, is open for anyone interested; the date in May for the start of registration hasn't been set yet.