If you are a member of the Association for Investment Management and Research, you recently received an annual dues bill for at least $150. Add-ons include $75 for being a CFA charterholder and fees for being a member of one of AIMR's 87 societies or chapters worldwide. You might have paid it already or, more likely, sent it to your employer's accounting department for payment.
Perhaps you don't remember the dues were raised by 50% two years ago -- or, if you do, you don't care. Let me tell you why I do.
I had the privilege of serving on AIMR's 19-member board of governors from 1994-'97, and on its Budget and Finance Committee. In March 1997, the governors received a letter from then-Chairman Rossa O'Reilly announcing the Executive Committee was proposing a $50, or 50%, increase in AIMR dues -- a recommendation with which the Dues and Fees Task Force had not been involved. I replied a few days later, listing nine reasons why I could not support an increase. They included:
* AIMR had increased its net assets every year since its formation;
* it had net assets (surplus) of $25 million; and
* its prospects for continued growth from its increasingly popular CFA exam program continued to be good.
But I was amazed to find some of my fellow governors justified the increase by saying employers usually pay and wouldn't mind, and by forecasting a decline in CFA exam candidates and revenue. When it came to a vote, only two colleagues joined my "no."
At the regular board meeting the next month, there was discussion of progress toward "unbundled" or "cafeteria" style ordering of publications, so members would not have to receive and pay for publications they did not want. For example, not every charterholder wants to receive the quarterly CFA Digest, one or two Research Foundation monographs and approximately seven seminar proceedings a year.
Two years ago, when I subtracted $75 from the total bill to forgo these publications, an AIMR senior vice president told me the additional $75 I had earmarked for my chapter affiliation would not be forwarded to it. Last year, when I sent my chapter affiliation check separately and tried again to de-select those materials, I was told I would not be listed in the annual directory or receive other benefits of membership. I caved in and wasted another $75, expecting the unbundled option would surely be available in the 1999-2000 dues year -- which it is not.
Where is AIMR today? Membership has grown to more than 36,000, and the number of CFA exam candidates has grown to more than 50,000. Annual revenue exceeds $50 million, and net assets exceed $42 million -- not bad for a non-profit organization. Does it offer unbundled pricing for its publications? Only to non-charterholders, who pay an extra $75 for CFA materials.
This is where you come in. If you agree with me that dues for this prosperous non-profit organization are too high and that unbundled pricing is long overdue, among other things, you could contact Frank Reilly, chairman; Tom Bowman, president; and/or other board members. Maybe hundreds of members can make a difference where two or three have failed.
If you don't see me listed in next year's directory, you'll know why.