IMCA australia has struck a deal for Graham Rich’s brillient!, publisher of the PortfolioConstruction Forum, to take over running IMCA’s Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) education program.

The deal is part of a strategic plan by the IMCA board to raise awareness of the CIMA accreditation and grow IMCA membership within the financial planning operations of superannuation funds and in the sophisticated end of the retail wealth management industry.

The chairman of IMCA australia, Brett Elvish, says PortfolioConstruction Forum will run “the overall experience of the CIMA program for Australian candidates, right from initial marketing through to competition”.

There will also be a continuing education (CE) component to the relationship, building on PortfolioConstruction Forum’s existing line-up of events, including its industry-leading conference in Sydney in August each year.

“Continuing education, as we all know, is extremely important,” Elvish says.

“We basically run a conference and seminars, in terms of continuing education beyond the CIMA program, whereas [Graham Rich is] doing a lot more in that space than we are – even down to weekly email blasts where you can read articles and fill in quizzes and get CPD points. All those things, over time, are going to be increasingly relevant.”

He adds that one of the distinctive things IMCA has just introduced is that members will have to formally put their CPD hours (also called CE hours) into approved programs.

“This is a far more formal process, which I think will probably be the way of the future in terms of how these areas develop.”


Strategic review

The alliance with PortfolioConstruction Forum grew from a strategic review by IMCA of its engagement with the investment management market in Australia.

Elvish says the IMCA board identified “the sophisticated end of the private wealth management space” as one area of rich opportunity.

“And the second big trend in the industry is around in-house teams and the growth of in-house teams in superannuation funds,” he says.

“The in-house element is really our bread and butter, in the sense that it’s the institutional market. The board understands that market well and we have a lot of established connections in there and we feel we can do a lot more in that space.

“However, the retail market is probably a bigger opportunity and it was one that we felt as a board that we understood well enough and could really have a good crack at. If we’re going to leverage other people’s scale in this market to improve the services we offer to members, how do we best do that? Who are the partners we should be looking to leverage and build partnerships with?”


An opportunity

Elvish sees the development of superannuation funds’ financial planning capacity as a potential opportunity for IMCA to answer some of these questions.

“These sorts of areas will ultimately be the breeding grounds for financial planners, longer term,” Elvish says.

“Immediately we’re thinking more about the investment teams in these organisations, but if you look out five years, these organisations will have big financial planning businesses that they are either owning or collaborating with. There will be a lot of relevance in the work we’re doing in that space.”

He adds that more broadly IMCA is trying to grow the awareness of CIMA and, ultimately, grow the intake. Another objective is expanding the education services it can offer to members.

“IMCA at the moment has 475 members – they are primarily individual members – so in a broader scale sense we’re quite a small entity, but part of a bigger global organisation, so locally we need to leverage strategically so we can have better scale and better awareness of the CIMA qualification,” Elvish says.


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Well regarded

Elvish says while the CIMA accreditation is well regarded by those who have completed the program, there is work to be done in raising awareness of the program across the investment management industry.

“When we did this strategic review, we got really good feedback from our members in terms of the ones who have gone through the CIMA program,” he says.

“They all speak very highly of it and it’s very well respected and very well regarded, but it just didn’t have the broad awareness across the investment community locally.

“We’ve got around 200 people that have gone through the program. That’s not a massive number but it’s a number that we have steadily increased over time with a class size of 20 to 25 each year.

“In very round number terms we have 275 individual members; we have a corporate membership for the four major institutional investment consultants and they’ve got around 200 investment staff between them, and they all are members.”

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