Sean, what is new with IMCA?
Lots of exciting change is happening at IMCA. We are updating both of our certification programs -- Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) and Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA). This is done based on job-task analyses that define the knowledge and skills required for delivering investment advice and wealth management. This assures our programs addresses the changing practices. It also assures the certified members are well-equipped to meet their clients’ needs. We also announced earlier this year that our membership now exceeds 9,000. We are proud of this milestone and feel fortunate our membership has grown every year—even during the financial crisis—since our inception in 1985. Our conferences continue to draw thousands of attendees every year, and we work hard to make them successful. We have already announced several speakers for next year’s Annual Conference in Boston, May 4-7, 2014. I’m looking forward to the conference and our members are too.
Are the demographics of CIMA advisors changing? What is CIMA-advisor growth lately?
Yes, the demographics are changing. Independent financial advisors (more RIAs than independent broker-dealers and dually-registered advisors) represent the largest segment of CIMA applicants the first half of 2013. These independent advisors are starting to understand they need a CIMA professional, on their team, to effectively manage clients’ investments, and a CPWA professional on their team if they serve a large percentage of HNW clients. We are also seeing more applications from individuals who serve in distribution roles at asset management firms. Earning CIMA certification gives them the confidence and credibility to sit across the table from advisors and recommend investments while providing consultative services to the advisor and their client. Currently, 6,400 professionals are CIMA-certified, up about 30 % since 2007. We expect the number to continue to grow as all types of financial professionals understand the value of certifications. Independent research by the Aite Group confirms that CIMA professionals are more satisfied with their careers, earn better compensation, and manage more assets for higher-net-worth clients than other advisors. (continued on the next page…..)
You travel the nation across widely. What are the biggest challenges facing the financial advisory today?
One of the biggest challenges is overcoming the lack of consumer confidence. Five years removed from the financial crisis, investors still don’t trust advisors and the industry to do what’s right. The industry needs to find ways to help investors trust again. Earning required securities licenses is necessary, but voluntary certification assures advisors have the competency to deliver the services they advertise. Certified advisors communicate to their clients, that they are committed to serving them to the best of their ability. Earning certifications is one small step in helping restore faith -- that those in our industry will do the right thing.
Fund providers love IMCA’s conferences. What good strategies and opportunities exist for them? (How can fund providers educate and sell better at IMCA events?)
Fund providers that exhibit and sponsor at our conferences have a unique opportunity to spend three days with our attendees. IMCA members average AUM is $327M -- so the caliber of attendee is very high. I think that the best way fund providers can connect with these attendees is to offer solutions—tangible ideas and best practices—that can help the attendees in their business. Rather than promoting a product, I recommend really listening to the attendees and making a concerted effort to understand their business.
IMCA annual conference is the most memorable industry event. What should we expect from the next Annual Conference - scheduled to be in Boston 2014?
The 2014 IMCA Annual Conference in Boston promises to be one of the top events of the year. The Conference is historically the largest association gathering of investment advisors and wealth managers in the U.S. and 2014 will be no different. We’ve already lined up a handful of engaging speakers, including statistician Nate Silver, retirement guru Moshe Milevsky, with many more to be announced soon. Our conference program is completely peer-reviewed. Our attendees regularly tell us they truly appreciate this unbiased perspective. Feedback tells us that conference attendees get an education they can’t find anywhere else.
In closing: Sean, what would you like to tell the readers of the ETF Business Review today?
I would urge readers to be committed to being lifelong learners. The industry is complex and today’s investing world is increasingly global. If you’re not continually learning, you are, in effect, falling behind the competition. The best way to serve clients is to continue to improve by constantly enhancing your skills and expertise. IMCA provides resources like education and certifications to help accomplish this, and I would encourage your readers who aren’t familiar with IMCA to check us out by joining IMCA as a member, or by attending one of our conferences or Best of IMCA regional seminars. Details are on our website at www.IMCA.org.
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