A CIMA certification denotes a commitment to the highest professional standards for investment management. What is a CIMA?
CIMA – one of the numerous acronyms investors will encounter in their search for a financial advisor – denotes a commitment to the highest standards of professional investment management.
The 23-year-old CIMA program focuses on the “four E’s” - experience, education, examination and ethics, said Sean R. Walters, head of the Investment Management Consultants Association, which confers the award. “As a result,” said Walters, “CIMA certification has become the new standard for investment advice in financial services.”
In April, the CIMA program became the first financial services credential in the United States to be accredited by the American National Standards Institute or ANSI. The nonprofit institute overseas the development of standards for a broad array of products and services. ANSI also represents the U.S. to the International Organization for Standardization or ISO.
To obtain ANSI accreditation, a program must be impartial and transparent, and distinguish individuals who meet a level of competency and skills from those who do not.
An advisor who becomes a Certified Investment Management Analyst must have at least three years of professional experience and then pass a qualifying exam. The candidate then undergoes an intensive week of graduate-level training at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The next steps are passing a certification exam, undergoing an extensive background check, and, finally, signing and following a code of ethics. To maintain the certification, a CIMA must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years.
The financial crisis, recession and prolonged economic downturn have shaken the relationships between investors and advisors. A significant percentage of wealthy investors surveyed by Millionaire Corner in September say economic conditions are prompting them to seek more financial advice. The vast majority (84 percent) of high net worth millionaires – those with $5 million to $25 million not including primary residence – work with a professional advisor. Most (62 percent) prefer to work with one advisor, while 27 percent work with two, 9 percent work with three and 2 percent work with five or more.
Full-service brokers are the most widely used advisors, but 16 percent of high net worth Millionaires primarily use independent financial planners and 12 percent, investment managers.
CIMAs typically work for large financial institutions and manage wealth for high net worth clients. The Investment Management Consultants Association code of ethics requires CIMAs to place the financial interest of the clients first, and to fully disclose services provided and compensation received. This includes revealing any potential conflicts of interest.
A CIMA must also provide materials and information needed to make an informed decision, and must comply with all regulations governing their work. A CIMA promises to answer questions quickly and truthfully, maintain a high level of competency and work to a high ethical standard.