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Investments & Wealth Institute Announces Changes to its CIMA Certification

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The Investments & Wealth Institute (the Institute), the leading membership organization and credentialing body for financial advisors and wealth management professionals, is pleased to announce updates to its renowned and accredited Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) certification program. On August 1, 2024, changes to the learning requirements for the CIMA certification, the curriculum taught by the Investments & Wealth Institute and their elite educational partners, and revisions to the exam itself will go into full effect.

Changes to the CIMA certification are reflected in the Defining Wealth Management report, published by the Investments & Wealth Institute, to summarize the knowledge and professional capabilities required of wealth management professionals, teams, and firms.

CIMA certification teaches and tests advisors on creating, managing, and evaluating model portfolios, target-date funds, ETFs, and index funds. They learn to manage risk and return including when and how to incorporate alternative investments into client portfolios and how to build proper investment policy statements. CIMA certified professionals understand how to apply behavioral finance to address cognitive biases in client decision-making, and how capital markets and global macroeconomic trends affect portfolio design. In summary, they are equipped to prudently assemble, evaluate, and/or manage portfolios that meet client objectives and outcomes as fiduciaries.

A CIMA certified professional is an investment or wealth management professional, with at least three years of experience, who can integrate a complex body of investment knowledge, ethically contributing to prudent investment decisions by providing objective advice and guidance to individual and institutional investors. Fewer than 3% of advisory professionals have earned and maintained the certification. However, more than 15% of teams or practices with $500M or more in AUM have at least one CIMA certified professional serving on the team. (Cerulli Associates, 2023)

Since 1988, the CIMA certification has served the industrys most respected wealth management practices, said Sean Walters, CAE, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute. The changes our volunteers are making in 2024 reflect the latest advancements in the practice of competent and ethical investment advice. These updates have been derived, as always, from a painstaking examination of the knowledge and skills needed by todays most advanced financial and investment consulting professionals to ensure the CIMA certification remains on the leading edge of technical portfolio construction and risk management.

The 2023 job task analysis study was performed in coordination with HUMRRO a non-profit test development organization. The CIMA job analysis applied a scientifically administered survey which required 300 investment practitioners to rate a series of knowledge and skill statements using a variety of metrics by importance, time spent performing a task, level of ability required for tasks, and relevance of certain knowledge required to perform the job.

The CIMA Certification Commission adjusted the exam blueprint according to the findings of the survey. Registered Education Providers then updated their curricula to reflect the updated blueprint. With the newly updated curriculum having launched on April 1, 2024, the whole process will culminate on August 1, 2024, with the debut of the new exam.

Certified Investment Management Analyst practitioners are required to exhibit knowledge of 89 topics, organized within 20 sections and five knowledge domains. Approximately 20% of the revised exam and learning requirements have been updated. Notable highlights of these updates include:

  • Alternative investments and private markets are increasing (from 2% to 5% of the examination)
  • Portfolio Construction is increasing (from 5% to 8% of the exam)
  • Risk and risk measurement calculations are decreasing (from 12% to 6% of the exam)
  • Performance Measurement and risk attribution are decreasing (from 8% to 5% of the exam)
  • Client discovery and investment policy are decreasing (from 8% to 6%)

Perhaps the most significant new section of content will be on investment implementation approaches (5% of the new exam). Many wealth management firms have outsourced investment management expertise to TAMPs, model portfolios, and AI/digital-allocators. However, research on clients of advisors has consistently reported that investment management is the most important technical competency that they expect from their advisor. CIMA certified practitioners must now demonstrate knowledge competencies related to investment implementation approaches from applications of asset allocation methodologies to resolving concentrated positions in the existing portfolio. Advisors must evaluate questions of accumulation and distribution based on the realities of client time horizons, assets and liabilities, and desired objectives. Candidates must properly differentiate between applicable investment management models and help clients make appropriate selections to meet their goals.

From an ethical standpoint, advisory professionals who dont fully understand the portfolios they recommend to clients, or who dont know how to effectively and prudently create, manage and adjust portfolios catered to client objectives, are doing their clients a disservice, said James LaFleur, CIMA, CPWA, RMA, CAIA, MSIT, chair of the CIMA Certification Commission, a volunteer committee of subject matter experts who established the revised requirements.

CIMA certification candidates must have three years, at minimum, of verified professional experience in financial services or a related industry at the time of certification. Candidates must successfully pass two background checks at time of application and at time of certification. The CIMA curriculum is taught through Registered Executive Education partners, including programs offered by two of the worlds most elite business schools, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Yale School of Management. The CIMA certification examination will be administered as a four-hour, 120-question multiple choice examination at an established testing center or via an approved online proctored exam provider. The examination currently has a 48% first time pass rate (two-year average).

About the Investments & Wealth Institute

Founded in 1985, the Investments & Wealth Institute is the premier professional association, education provider, and standards body for financial advisors. Through its award-winning events, publications, courses, and acclaimed certifications Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA), Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA), and Retirement Management Advisor (RMA) the Institute delivers Ivy league-quality, highly practical education to more than 20,000 practitioners annually in over 40 countries. Members of the Institute include the industry's most successful investment consultants, advanced financial planners, and private wealth managers who embrace excellence and ethics in applying a broad set of knowledge and skills in their daily work with clients.

Contact Details

Allison Edmondson

+1 303-850-3207

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