December 2015 | 

Financial Advisors Gain an Edge at Wharton

Financial Advisors Gain an Edge at Wharton

For financial advisors, earning the CIMA® (Certified Investment Management Analyst®) certification pays huge dividends. Certified advisors earn more, attract more profitable clients, and manage more of their clients’ investment assets than their non-certified counterparts. But getting certified takes work; after about nine months of study, just over half of those who take the certifying exam pass it the first time. Preparation, both through learning and retaining tested concepts, is critical to success.

Since its inception in 1988, Wharton has provided the executive education component of CIMA® certification. Leveraging its world-class finance faculty, the Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) Certification program is the time-honored choice of investment advisors. Professor Richard Marston, notes, “Although much of the material in the CIMA program has remained consistent, we’re staying current with economic variables and investment trends. There is a growing interest in new asset classes, and world events with the potential to impact portfolio performance are discussed as well.”

During his sessions in the program, Marston explains 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 the individual investor.”

Jeffrey Jaffe, the program’s faculty director, was on the original CIMA certification advisory committee. He has also co-authored two textbooks: Corporate Finance is in its eleventh edition and Corporate Finance: Core Principles and Applications is in its fourth 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.”

In addition to modern portfolio theory, asset allocation, and performance measurement, behavioral finance is also covered. Jaffe says, “In many areas of our lives, we make irrational decisions. We know what a healthy diet looks like, but we might order the cheeseburger and fries anyway. It’s similar with our finances. At the very least we know you’re supposed to buy low and sell high. But then there is a market correction and people tend to want to pull their money out of the market. We need knowledgeable advisors because occasionally ordering the wrong meal isn’t going to have a long-term effect. For most people, losing a million dollars is.”

He continues, “We have much to say about behavioral finance, and dealing with clients’ irrationalities. The participants have a lot to offer in this discussion because they know only too well what it is like to try to advise someone who wants to take more risk than is prudent, or wants to make a financial decision based on fear alone.”

“What we are really teaching is how to do right by your client,” says Jaffe. The program content is highly practical and includes daily review sessions. In addition to teaching sessions in the program, Jaffe is available during meals and breaks to speak with participants and continue the conversation. “This experience can’t be replicated in a textbook,” he explains. “In one week, we prepare you to better serve your clients and to advance your career by becoming CIMA certified.”