May 2012 | 

Wharton and CIMA: Two Decades of Helping Financial Advisors Achieve Their Goals

wharton and cima

Since the late 1980s, financial advisors seeking the Certified Investment Management Analyst certification (CIMA) have come to one place — Wharton. Finance professors Jeffrey Jaffe, Craig MacKinlay, and Richard Marston have taught over 5,000 top-performing investment professionals preparing to take the certifying exam. Program Director Sanya Sharma notes, “Our faculty know the program better than anyone else. They have a deep knowledge of the issues important for investment advisors. Over the years, we have refined the CIMA program, so in five days participants get all of the knowledge they need, extra time with faculty for questions, and review time in which they can begin self-study for the exam.”

Richard Marston, the only academic in the country who has been a member of a brokerage firm’s asset allocation committee, adds, “Although much of the material in the CIMA [Certified Investment Management AnalystSM (CIMA®) Certification] program has remained consistent, we’re staying current with economic developments and investment trends. There is a growing interest in new asset classes such as hedge funds, international real estate, and commodities, for example.

“In my sessions, I explain how to create a diversified portfolio; asset allocation has become more complex, and more critical. I decided to write Portfolio Design: A Modern Approach to Asset Allocation, based on the CIMA sessions. It’s a very detailed guide that works for our program participants as well as for other investment professionals.”

Jeffrey Jaffe, the program’s faculty director,served on the advisory committee for the new CIMA Certification exam, helping to determine content based on a job analysis of financial advisors. He has also written about his CIMA sessions, co-authoring two textbooks on corporate finance. The 10th edition of Corporate Finance will be released in the fall of 2012, and Corporate Finance: Core Principles and Applications is in its third edition. Jaffe notes, “The material I teach is in both of these books. It’s a rare situation when two finance faculty members teaching in the same program have books out on the subject.”

Jaffe also remarks that his sessions have evolved over time to explore important current subjects, including behavioral finance. “Economics assumes that everyone is rational, but it’s not that way in practice. Investing is irrational; the participants in the CIMA program see it every day. Behavioral finance identifies how people are irrational — they might be overconfident, or feel comfortable investing only in assets they’re familiar with. It’s the financial professional’s job to help pull them toward common sense, so it’s important to understand why clients don’t always do what we would like them to do.”

For investment advisors preparing for the CIMA exam, Wharton’s program offers not only the most experienced faculty and latest knowledge, but it now supports participants as they study even after the program is completed. Sanya Sharma notes that a new virtual classroom will help them retain and refresh knowledge during the months leading up to the exam. “The CIMA certification process is rigorous. Through our program — and now after it — we’re supporting financial professionals as they seek recognition as advanced investment consultants.”