IMCA Modernizes CIMA Exams for Investment Advisors

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New certification exam and curriculum changes implement findings of CIMA job task analysis

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“Our goal is to evolve with the industry and to continue to qualify advanced practitioners with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful."

Investment Management Consultants Association® (IMCA®) announced that it has revised its Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) qualification and certification exams. The updated certification exam launched May 1 and reflects the findings of a 2013 CIMA job analysis, which identified and cataloged the most essential knowledge and skills for the effective practice of investment consulting and investment advice.

“Our goal is to evolve with the industry and to continue to qualify advanced practitioners with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful,” said Sean Walters, Executive Director and CEO of IMCA. “The enhancements we have made to the CIMA exams, coupled with the changes education providers have made to the curriculum, allow advisors who earn the certification to continue to represent the highest standards of practice, whether serving individual or institutional clients in a discretionary or non-discretionary engagement.”

The revised CIMA certification covers 111 topics organized within 21 sections and six domains. Based on job analysis findings, the 2014 examination and course work will put greater emphasis on skills and expertise in the following areas:

Portfolio risk management: As markets remain volatile, and client objectives shift toward preservation, understanding how to mitigate risk for clients is exceedingly important. A significant percentage of each exam will focus on portfolio performance, risk measurement, and portfolio risk management strategies.

Alternative investments: In-depth understanding of traditional and alternative investments is required of all competent investment advisors and consultants. Expanded coverage of alternative investments and more sophisticated tools and strategies are included in these changes.

Investment consulting process: Applying an institutional approach to any investment advisory relationship has been the hallmark of CIMA certification since 1988. The investment consulting process represents the largest knowledge and skill domain of CIMA certification and is now organized into a five-step, client-centered process.
Portfolio theory and behavioral finance: Proficient investment advisors and consultants must demonstrate thorough understanding of the various portfolio theories, including their application, but the revised CIMA certification exams also will cover a wide-ranging set of topics within behavioral finance.

Governance: In addition to adherence to IMCA’s Code of Professional Responsibility, competent, ethical investment advisors and consultants must be able to demonstrate applied knowledge of the fiduciary and other regulatory responsibilities for all types of clients: individuals, trusts, foundations, endowments, and ERISA plan clients.

The five-step CIMA certification process remains the same under the revised program and program content changes do not impact current CIMA professionals other than refining the topic list of accepted continuing education (CE) credit. As part of recertification requirements, CIMA professionals must complete 40 hours of CE credit every two years, including two ethics hours. In addition, IMCA administers a public complaints and disciplinary process managed by a volunteer professional review board. Ethics violations can and do result in public disciplinary actions.

The 2013 CIMA job analysis was completed by more than 750 retail and institutional advisors in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Conducted by testing company Applied Measurement Professionals, a job task analysis is a necessary process for certification bodies to develop and enforce objective, fair, and legally defensible standards for a professional certification. Only a handful of credentialing bodies in financial services apply this best practice in their development of voluntary standards for advisors. IMCA’s CIMA certification has earned accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is currently the only financial services credential in the United States to meet this international standard for personnel certification (ISO 17024).

For more information on the CIMA certification program, click here.


Established in 1985, IMCA is a nonprofit professional association and credentialing organization with more than 9,400 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 2013, IMCA conferences and workshops hosted more than 4,000 attendees. 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.

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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Chase Squires
Investment Management Consultants Association
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