IMCA Enhances CPWA Certification Program

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Curriculum changes help wealth managers better serve high-net-worth clients.

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High-net-worth clients have increasingly complex financial needs.

With the number of high-net-worth households on the rise – and their financial needs growing ever more complex – Investment Management Consultants Association® (IMCA®) today announced several curriculum changes to its Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) certification. Announced this morning at IMCA’s Advanced Wealth Management Conference in Chicago, the updated curriculum provides advisors the latest advanced knowledge to help them identify and analyze challenges high-net-worth individuals face, and understand how to develop specific strategies to minimize taxes, monetize and protect assets, maximize growth, and transfer wealth.

The curriculum changes apply to the March 2014 cohort of candidates who begin e-campus study this month and attend the five-day executive education CPWA class at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business in March. Three additional classes are offered in 2014 using the revised curriculum, which reflects findings from IMCA’s 2012 job task analysis that defines wealth management.

“High-net-worth clients have increasingly complex financial needs,” said IMCA’s CPWA program director Jim Dobbs. “The financial professionals who advise them must be able to navigate an intricate web of multi-generational estates, sophisticated investments, and tax and legal considerations. The updated CPWA curriculum equips financial professionals to handle these issues with maximum competence.”

The market for high-net-worth advisory services is rapidly growing. In 2012, the number of households with greater than $5 million in investable assets grew by 23 percent and the number with $5 million in net worth grew by nine percent, according to Cerulli Associates. Their financial assets have grown in recent years at a rate of 20 percent on average, outpacing market appreciation.

Defining Wealth Management

To help advisors better serve high-net-worth clients, IMCA undertook a comprehensive job task analysis to define the practice of wealth management, distributing a survey to more than 43,000 financial professionals to identify the skills and knowledge required to advise affluent clients. The survey concluded that wealth management is a distinct practice, and that while the fundamental processes private wealth advisors follow may be similar to those used in financial planning or other advisory disciplines, an advanced and unique set of knowledge and skills is needed to effectively serve high-net-worth clients, defined by respondents as those with a net worth of $5 million or greater.

The updated CPWA curriculum reflects these findings and refines the knowledge that is unique to the practice of wealth management. Wealth management differs from more basic financial planning in several important ways, including:

  •     Collaboration. Wealth managers need to be able to work with a team of financial professionals, including attorneys, CPAs, tax experts and other specialists. Working as part of a team requires a deep level of subject matter expertise in many areas, as well as the ability to recognize when to assume a leadership position and when to defer to another professional.
  •     Client specialization. Some high-net-worth clients are closely-held business owners; others are executives who receive compensation through company options or concentrated stock. Wealth advisors need to understand the issues unique to these clients, including appropriate strategies for liquidating, growing, transferring and diversifying wealth.
  •     Investment strategies. Managing portfolio risk is often a priority for high-net-worth clients. High-net-worth clients are also more likely to be concerned about socially responsible investing (SRI) and to employ sophisticated investment strategies.
  •     Retirement planning. While financial planners are focused on helping clients plan and save for retirement, wealth advisors are more focused on the distribution of assets during retirement. As with legacy planning, asset protection is of the utmost importance.
  •     Legacy planning. High-net-worth clients often bequeath millions of dollars in assets to their heirs. In addition to understanding the law and tax code as it relates to estate distribution, wealth advisors need to be well versed in the numerous strategies employed to protect assets from creditors, minimize taxes, and maximize client control over assets.

About IMCA
IMCA hosts several Best of IMCA seminars and five conferences for thousands of investment and wealth management professionals each year. The IMCA 2014 Annual Conference is scheduled for May 4‒7 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Visit for more information about the benefits of IMCA membership, conferences, and educational and sponsorship opportunities.

Established in 1985, IMCA is a nonprofit professional association and credentialing organization with more than 9,000 individual members. IMCA members collectively manage more than $1.9 trillion, providing investment consulting and wealth management services to individual and institutional clients. Since 1988, IMCA has offered the Certified Investment Management Analyst® (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 2012, IMCA conferences and workshops hosted approximately 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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