The Claritas Investment Certificate…Why should we care?

Public registration has opened for the Claritas Investment Certificate and the Institute is putting a lot of time in to promote the program. John Rogers, CFA Institute President and CEO has a full page update in the May/June issue of CFA magazine cheerleading the program. There will also be a luncheon forum with the CFA Society of Los Angeles on July 15th to highlight the program.
Talking with other charterholders and candidates, I still get the impression that most have not decided whether they really care or not about the program. I think the Institute has done a good job of allaying fears that the certificate will dilute the brand or as a watered-down substitute for the charter, but it hasn’t yet been able to demonstrate why the industry should embrace the program.
The Claritas program consists 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.
The program is designed to help build, maintain and restore trust in the industry through creating educated and ethical professionals. The Institute states that, “For every investment decision maker there are up to ten other professionals working alongside them.  We want to help to build their knowledge in line with our mission to shape an investment industry for the ultimate benefit of society.”
The Institute asserts that the program will help to spread a clear understanding of the essentials of the industry and will benefit employees, organizations and the industry as a whole.
Beyond the more lofty goals of the Institute, it does look like the industry and charterholders can benefit from the success of the Claritas Certificate program in at least two important ways,
What your co-workers don’t know could hurt you,
The support staff in most of the offices where I’ve worked have been great resources but I have friends that find their colleagues anything but supportive. The profession can be extremely technical at times and the fact is that many in supporting roles just don’t get the industry-specific training they need to do their jobs.
If your tech support isn’t quite sure what the company does, how are they able to make sure that platforms and programs are doing what they need to do?
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 21 chapters in the Claritas course of study closely follow the CFA curriculum and should give someone a good understanding of the industry.
Making it a career rather than just another job,
Certificate members of the Claritas program will have spent upwards of 100 hours learning the basics to the industry. Along with firm-specific training to understand the company’s business model, this helps to integrate employees and develop a vested interest in the industry. The more effort a person has put into training for their role, the more likely they are to see the company’s success as their own and feel a part of the team.
Egos and the individualistic drive for success can be extremely strong in our industry and success or appreciation isn’t always shared with co-workers further down the ladder from the client-facing roles. Encouraging support staff to develop their skills with programs like Claritas helps to show that you value their role and their work.
The jury is still out on Claritas and probably will be until we get enough people through the program and see it ultimately benefits the industry. As charterholders, we’ve got a lot riding on its success and not only because the Institute is promoting it so heavily.
The Institute’s website for the Claritas program can be found at https://www.cfainstitute.org/programs/employer/claritas/Pages/index.aspx , look for updates from the Institute online and in the bi-monthly publication.
‘til next time,
Joseph Hogue, CFA

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