Wondering about CFA designation usage? You no doubt remember the huge sigh of relief after finding out you passed the most recent CFA exam or when you finally earned the charter.
Now, try to imagine the agony you’ll feel each day after being barred from using the designation.
Looking through the Institute’s website, I came across the list of individuals currently serving public disciplinary sanctions for violating the Code and Standards. The list includes a range of violations and punishments including suspension and temporary sanctions.
Exam-related disciplinary actions are not on the list, nor are those whose duration of suspension has expired. There are also private sanctions or reprimands that do not appear on the list barred from CFA designation usage.
One hundred and twenty-four names make up the woeful bunch, spanning 18 countries. Each name on the list is linked to a description of the specific case. Many on the list were suspended for some form of insider trading, a few for high profile cases like the Galleon Group case and ‘expert networks’.
The page makes for an interesting, and educational, read. A couple of charter holders are actually convicted of unlawful possession with the intent to deliver cannabis! Really? You have all this financial knowledge rolling around up there and chose to push weed on the corner? Another guy included the CFA designation after his name when posting to pornographic chat rooms on the internet.
Some cases are not quite as blatant. One charter holder was found guilty of not conducting adequate, independent research and analysis on companies she covered. The analyst wrote 59 research reports on companies, most of which were written exclusively with information provided by the issuers, and all rated a ‘speculative buy.’ Basically, the charter holder was writing promotional material for the companies and passing them off as equity reports.
None of the sanctions are for anything unfair or that the charter holder might not have realized they were breaking the code or standards. It doesn’t seem like the page is there for the public humiliation of the listed names, or necessarily to scare charter holders into ethical behavior.
While some of the activities amounted to a fairly large dollar amount of ill-gotten gains, it occurred to me that none of them amounted to enough that would be worth giving up the ability to work in the industry or CFA designation usage. While it may seem that all that time spent studying the Code and Standards for the exams was merely for rote memorization, don’t think it does not apply after you get the charter.
You have worked too hard to achieve your successes. Don’t make it a wasted effort by compromising your ethics.
Joseph Hogue, CFA