CFA Institute Unveils New Investment Certificate Program

The Institute has unveiled the new certificate program called Claritas, a global education program designed to provide an introduction to the investment industry and various roles and responsibilities. The idea is to provide an introductory understanding of financial services to those not working in investment roles so they can better understand the industry and more effectively work with colleagues.

The Institute claims that for every investment role, there are 10 other professionals working in a support capacity and the certificate will help to build knowledge across the industry. Goals include developing a shared understanding of the industry, improving performance, building confidence, and helping certificate holders stand out.

The Claritas certificate program has been a long time in the making. I went to a Society leadership conference in Los Angeles in 2011 where the Institute had just started providing detailed information. Before that a lot of rumors had leaked out about the program and charterholders were weary about a shorter certificate program that might dilute the CFA brand. Many charterholders had even started calling the initiative, “CFA-lite.” The Institute is now conducting a test program on the first candidates with universal registration to begin in May.

There is no experience requirement but the exam must be taken within 180 days of registration. The exam for the Claritas certificate will be administered by Pearson VUE centers globally starting in May 2013. Individual pricing is US $685 but discounts are available for corporate groups.

The course of study covers 21 chapters across seven modules and appears to closely follow the CFA curriculum.

- Industry Overview                    (5%)
- Ethics and regulation               (10%)
- Tools and inputs                     (20%)
            Financial Statements
            Quantitative Concepts
            Micro & Macroeconomics
            International Trade and Forex
- Investment instruments            (20%)
            Equity and Debt Securities
            Derivatives
            Alternative Investments
- Industry structure                     (20%)
- Industry controls                     (20%)
            Documentation
            Risk Management
            Performance Evaluation
- Serving clients’ needs              (5%)
            Investor Needs and Policy
            Asset Allocation
            Active and Passive Management 

The study materials consist of an eBook (about 650 pages), chapter review questions, practice questions and a mock exam. The exam is computer-based and consists of 120 multiple-choice questions administered in English. Candidates will have 120 minutes to complete the test. The Institute estimates that passing the exam will require approximately 100 hours of study time.

I think the program will ultimately help to achieve the Institute’s goals for a more cohesive and informed industry. Execution remains to be a topic of interest and there may be hurdles along the way. Of course, the certificate is not a replacement or a substitute for the charter so it doesn’t change your plans as a candidate. As a charterholder or candidate, you might want to talk to your employer about the certificate. Having a more informed support staff is always a good thing and should help to better serve client interests.

The Institute’s website for the Claritas program can be found by clicking here.

We’ll continue with our 21-week study program tomorrow with study session two across the three levels.
‘til next time, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA