IMCA Recommends Accredited Certification Programs to Help Protect Seniors

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Letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Outlines Need for Authenticity of Credentials.

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The most effective way for seniors and all financial consumers to truly determine the value and competency of a financial advisor is to ascertain the credibility of the advisor’s qualifications.

Incompetent financial advice is a serious threat that leads to tangible losses for seniors, and accredited certification programs help protect against this risk, according to Investment Management Consultants Association® (IMCA®). Responding to a request from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for comments related to senior financial exploitation, IMCA submitted a letter illustrating the importance of accredited financial certifications. The majority of financial credentialing programs meet no third-party standard, increasing concerns about consumer protections, the letter says.

Click here to view the letter, which was delivered to the CFPB and provides supplemental comments to a letter American National Standards Institute (ANSI) submitted. ANSI accredited IMCA’s Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) certification in 2011, making it the first financial services credential in the United States to meet international standards (ISO 17024) for personnel certification. Other key points from the letter include:

  •     The best manner in which to determine legitimacy, value, and authenticity of credentials is through a national or international standard designed for organizations that certify individuals, according to ANSI.
  •     In the case of CIMA certification, “seniors and other consumers … can be assured that their advisor was certified by an objective, fair, transparent, valid, and high-quality process.”
  •     Fewer than five percent of certification bodies in financial services have completed any accreditation process for their respective personnel certification programs.
  •     Significant differences exist between certificate programs, university degrees, and certification programs, and the three should not be considered equal when establishing financial advisory expertise.

“The most effective way for seniors and all financial consumers to truly determine the value and competency of a financial advisor is to ascertain the credibility of the advisor’s qualifications,” said Betsy Piper/Bach, JD, CIMA®, CFP®, CTFA, chair of IMCA’s board of directors. “A certification earned through a properly-administered financial certification program provides comfort that the advisor has mastered advanced skills and knowledge. The ANSI accreditation process for certifications protects consumers by helping qualify certification programs using national—and, in the case of CIMA certification, international—standards and best practices. We applaud the CFPB’s efforts to scrutinize the use of designations with seniors, and we will continue to consider additional ways to contribute to consumer protection.”

As an education and credentialing organization, IMCA does not lobby Congress, regulators, or advocate for any particular legislative or regulatory position. An organization is not required to register as a lobbyist when responding to a request for comments by a federal agency as part of its rulemaking.

Visit http://www.IMCA.org for more information.

Established in 1985, IMCA is a nonprofit professional association and credentialing organization with more than 8,700 individual members. IMCA members collectively manage more than $1.6 trillion on behalf of 1.3 million clients, providing investment consulting and wealth management services to individual and institutional clients. Since 1988, IMCA has offered the CIMA® certification, which earned accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in April 2011, making it the first financial services credential in the United States to meet international standards (ISO 17024) for personnel certification. IMCA’s Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) certification is suited for wealth management professionals working with high-net-worth clients. In 2011, IMCA conferences and workshops hosted more than 4,000 attendees.

IMCA® and Investment Management Consultants Association® are registered trademarks of Investment Management Consultants Association Inc. CIMA®, Certified Investment Management Analyst®, CIMC®, CPWA®, and Certified Private Wealth Advisor® are registered certification marks of Investment Management Consultants Association Inc. Investment Management Consultants Association Inc. does not discriminate in educational opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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Ryan Hoffman
Investment Management Consultants Association
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