With the increasing complexity and regulation of the financial markets, fund managers and marketers, hedge fund service providers, and other financial consultants need to demonstrate a more complete understanding of market forces that influence the risk vs. reward that investors consider. The due diligence necessary to find trusted advisors who understand these factors and can help navigate investors through this complex maze begins with professional certification.
Here are the financial industry’s most trusted certification programs. Each is administered by industry organizations that are both well-established and recognized in the industry.
Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)
Registered Investment Advisors manages the assets of high net-worth individuals and institutional investors. They are regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authorities (also known as FINRA). FINRA was created for the purpose of protection of the investor community. Most states require RIA individuals to complete the Series 7, 65, or 66 certification exams (the most widely recognized exams). Most RIA organizations are set up as partnerships and are often where people begin a career in investment management.
Certificate in Hedge Fund Regulation (CHFR)
The Certificate in Hedge Fund Regulation is a demonstration of understanding of the foundation issues that all actors within the hedge fund industry face. It demonstrates an individual’s regulatory awareness – and, crucially, a firm’s commitment to keeping its regulatory knowledge up-to-date. The CHFR is an online course that allows the candidate to study and take the examination at any location at their own pace and convenience.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
A certification program that combines education on investment practices with ethical conduct. A well-respected certification, employers and investors recognize the CFA designation as a standard of professional knowledge. Three levels of examination on professional standards and investment competency, along with three years of experience are required before achieving the CFA designation.
Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
In addition to the requirement that candidates hold the CFA designation (see above), the CIC designation requires candidates demonstrate proficiency in investment counseling and portfolio management. Established in 1975, this program was created to uphold investment practice standards, including investment advisers acting as fiduciaries with the responsibility to provide unbiased investment advice that is in line with the investor’s goals and do so with integrity.
Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA)
Administered by the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association. this program curriculum is aimed at a broad audience in the alternative investment industry, including: analysts, advisers, fund managers, professional service providers and back office personnel. The examination and certification program includes hedge funds, private equity, real estate, commodities and futures. Unlike other programs, the CAIA program only requires individuals to have one year of professional experience.
Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)
The CIMA professional provides objective investment advice and guidance to both individuals and institutions. A CIMA certified professional understands a deep body of investment knowledge and practically and ethically uses that knowledge to assist clients in making investment choices. The program includes an education track and includes other certification requirements.
Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA)
The CPWA credential was designed for advisers and wealth managers who specialize in working with high net worth clients. The program includes knowledge of the areas of estate planning, executive compensation, stock options, charitable planning, and more. The certification helps to develop advanced expertise in accumulating, preserving and protecting, and distributing wealth.
Chartered Market Technician (CMT)
This certification is meant to demonstrate proficiency in technical financial analysis. An individual must pass three exams proctored by the Market Technicians Association (MTA) and agree to that organizations code of ethics as well. As one might expect, CMT’s are often found in hedge funds and management firms with a technical focus.
Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM)
This certification is focus on analyzing investment performance and presenting the results to management and potential investors. It covers best practices of performance measurement and investment analysis and is administered via an online curriculum. Candidates pass two exams and join the the CIPM Association as well as meet industry experience requirements.
Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
The ChFC designation focuses on the planning side of investing. It is administered by the American College and requires individuals pass an exam that includes planning areas such as: estate and tax planning, insurance, and investments. It requires three years of experience in the financial planning arena.
Chartered Portfolio Manager (CPM)
The CPM certification program focuses on portfolio management and administered by the American Academy of Financial Management (AAFM). Candidates need to demonstrate understanding of financial market dynamics, characteristics of the many diverse financial products that are traded, value equity and fixed-income securities, portfolio construction, risk management, and global markets. This designation requires three years of portfolio management experience – which may include varying types of investment portfolios.
Chartered Wealth Manager (CWM)
This designation focuses on financial planning, sales and relationship management. Like the CPM designation (see above), the program is administered by the American Academy of Financial Management (AAFM). The program requires a degree in finance, tax, accounting, law or a minimum level of coursework through the AAFM. An examination must also be passed, and the candidate must also sign a code of ethics agreement. The program also requires continuing education each year. New candidates are required to have at least three years experience in wealth management.