A lot of people call themselves financial engineers or risk managers, but it's unclear what they know and don't know, said Leslie Rahl, principal, Capital Market Risk Advisors Inc., New York.
To foster and improve understanding of the field, the International Association of Financial Engineers is forming the Fisher Black Memorial Foundation.
Named in honor of the late options-pricing model pioneer, the foundation will fund financial engineering research by academics and practitioners and support a certification program for financial engineers.
A fund-raising campaign for the foundation will begin with an inaugural symposium and dinner June 23 in New York. The symposium, hosted by the association, will feature three Nobel laureates in economics. The event is part of the association's effort to develop a curriculum and certification program for financial engineering, which combines finance, quantitative methods and computer science.
Financial engineering is increasingly prized on Wall Street and by institutional investors, said Ms. Rahl, who sits on the IAFE board and is helping to organize the symposium.
The inaugural event is being sponsored by 14 major pension funds, institutional investors and universities.
How much is the foundation trying to raise? "We're inexperienced in this fund raising, even though we're financial engineers," said Ms. Rahl, noting the organization has no initial target. It is hoping for contributions from large corporations and successful individuals in finance.
Testing for a financial engineering credential could begin in 1999, she said. The certification likely will have several levels, such as an initial level for academic work and another for professional experience.
A number of universities have financial engineering tracks, she said. They include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management; Ms. Rahl is a member of Sloan's financial engineering track advisory board. Among others, she said, are the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology.