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2019 End of Year Summary

Happy New Year friends and members of the Investments & Wealth Institute!
We wanted to take a few words to reflect on the accomplishments of 2019, and to thank our 43 staff, 140 volunteers and nearly 13,000 members and certificants working in 29 countries around the world.
It’s been two years since we changed our name from IMCA to the Investments & Wealth Institute, as part of a larger effort to better position who we are and what we do. Investments & Wealth Institute is a professional association, standards body, and education provider for advanced practitioners who are committed to high standards of ethics and expertise.

G.E.A.R.S. drive the speed and power by which the Institute is able to achieve its mission and purpose.
Grow – The Institute will grow the number of certified professionals thereby enhancing the competency and professionalism of advice delivered to the public.
  • Membership grew to 12,050 members in 2019, with another 800 nonmember certificants. Annual revenues grew to an estimated $14.5 million. The Investments & Wealth Institute is now the third largest professional association for advisors (in total annual revenue) based in the U.S., behind CFA Institute and the CFP Board of Standards. Just in 2019, our certification programs, conferences, and online courses hosted 10,086 lifelong learners.
  • Total, active certifications grew 7.5% in 2019, to 10,700:
    • The number of Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) certified professionals grew 3% over 2018, to 8,383.
    • The number of Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) certified professionals grew 25% over 2018, to 2,250,
    • The number of Retirement Management Advisor® (RMA®) certified professionals grew 70% to 203 (this program was launched as an Institute certification program in early 2018).
  • Due in part to our name change, and expanded efforts to position our relevance to the industry, regulators, the media and the public, our web site traffic doubled in 2019 over 2018, and has tripled in as many years. A brand health study by Logica Research released in early 2019 highlighted marketplace perceptions of the new Investments & Wealth Institute brand and certifications since its launch in October 2017:
    • Awareness of the “Investments & Wealth Institute” brand by nonmembers has increased by 47%.
    • 89% of nonmember advisors are aware of CIMA and 61% are aware of CPWA.
    • Nonmember advisors’ likelihood to join IWI has increased to 43% from 26% in 2014. These trends hold true with our top two certifications as well, with 25% of nonmember advisors saying they definitely or probably will pursue for CIMA certification, and 22% for CPWA certification. 
  • Industry recognition is important, as it enhances our ability to deliver upon our mission. We have also promoted our certifications and our InvestmentHelp.org web site through consumer media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s Forbes, Financial Times, and CNBC to name a few.
  • Published the 2019 Investments & Wealth Institute HNW Client Research, conducted by AbsoluteEngagement.com, which surveyed more than 1,000 advisory clients in the U.S. and Canada. This research explored how advisors can stand out in a crowded market and found:
    • 75% of clients said that if they were searching for an advisor tomorrow, designations would be an important factor in their decision.
      • Unaided awareness of designations is low. The highest unaided awareness was CFP certification at 15%.
      • When given a list of more than 15 designations and asked which were most important for their advisor to hold, Institute certifications were in the top five after CFP certification: CIMA (16%), RMA (16%), CPWA (16%), and CFA (15%).
    • The requirements enforced by The Institute on behalf of the CIMA, CPWA and RMA certification commissions are “very important” to clients:
      • “My advisor would lose his/her credentials if he/she failed to meet ethics standards.” (89% said this was important)
      • “My advisor must meet ongoing standards in order to maintain his/her credentials” (e.g., annual continuing education). (88% said this was important)
    • In September we minted “Behavioral Finance Week” offering a series of content, podcasts, research, the conference, and online programs. The campaign was a success, and we intend to replicate in 2020.
Educate The Institute will strengthen its position as the industry’s leading provider of education and credentials that address contemporary investment and wealth management challenges.
  • The Conferences Strategy for 2019 called for a streamlining of our conference offerings:
    1. Investments & Wealth ACE 2019, The Exceptional Advisor Conference – Held in Las Vegas in May 2019
    2. Investment Advisor Forum, Powered by CIMA Curriculum
    3. Wealth Advisor Forum, Powered by CPWA Curriculum
    4. Retirement Management Forum, Powered by RMA Curriculum
    5. We “piloted” a new Behavioral Advisor Forum, in collaboration with Berkeley Faculty
    6. and our Canadian Advisory Board hosted a one-day conference in Canada – Exceptional Advisor Canada.
  • Conferences registrations increased by 7% over 2018, driven by higher registrations at the Investment Advisor Forum and the new Behavioral Advisor Forum.
  • The conference staff and conference committee volunteers implemented a suite of strategic initiatives to enhance the Institute conference experience: additional funds for higher level speakers, value-added programs at conferences, initiatives to enhance engagement and networking at conferences, and an increased reliance on ivy-league partners at conferences (i.e. Wharton, Yale and Chicago Booth). Evaluation scores were 10 points higher than historical (Net Promoter Score average) over the past 10 years.
  • The  inaugural Behavioral Advisor Forum in San Francisco hosted 300 attendees. The program was offered in collaboration with UC Berkeley faculty, and focused on the behavioral aspects of delivering advice to clients: investor psychology, choice architecture, behavioral biases, and strategies and techniques to better manage this normal human behavior.
  • Online Course registrations increased in 2019 by 29% over 2018, due primarily to corporate sales efforts.
  • Institute instructional design and content development efforts in 2019 were focused on significant updates to the CPWA level 1 online education, and on a new Private Wealth Essentials course which launched this past November. Volunteers from the CPWA Certification Commission were instrumental in rolling out this new content.
Add Value & Relevance — Deliver premier, quality education with real-world solutions for practitioners. Institute professionals have access to the most relevant knowledge, insights and tools required to best serve their clients and distinguish their expertise in a global, and highly competitive marketplace. 
  • The membership committee prioritized a three-phase communication plan to address membership retention and engagement.  The committee also prioritized several engagement initiatives, and elected to focus on conference engagement initiatives (implemented in Q2 2019), a job board service (implemented in early 2020), and membership tiers (implemented in late 2020).
  • The web site was enhanced and improved throughout 2019 and will receive a “phase 2” facelift in 2020.
  • In Q3 and Q4 the CIMA Certification Commission announced two changes related to the CE topics, processes and procedures, which will apply to all Institute Certifications:
    • In addition to two hours of Ethics, Certificants will now have to report 1 hour of Tax or Regulation every two-year recertification cycle. The total hours required is still 40.
    • Commencing January 1, 2020, self-reporting CE hours will be more efficient and convenient and will require a $5 per CE hour fee.
  • The Institute staff invested significant time and resources in 2019 automating the RMA certification processes (application, renewal, certification steps, etc.) so that all three certifications and handled by the database and the web site interface in consistent ways.
Standards — The financial advisory business is enhanced due to the Institute’s commitment to high standards, ethics, and quality. Investments & Wealth certifications represent international best-practices for personnel certification.
  • Due to continued efforts by the CIMA Certification Commission to maintain high standards of quality, ANSI renewed the CIMA Certification accredited status in early 2019 and provided a “Multi-Lateral Agreement” letter of support to Canada to aid our efforts to gain recognition for CIMA in that country.
  • In early 2019, Chicago Booth launched a new CIMA Hybrid program (online with a 2-day live prep component). This program is significantly more successful than their prior efforts competing with Wharton’s live model. They hosted more than 100 students in 2019 in this new program offering.
  • The CPWA Certification Commission conducted a CPWA Job Analysis in early 2019, to revise and update the CPWA curriculum and examination. The program now more accurately and effectively addresses the technical knowledge and capabilities needed by today’s private wealth advisor to serve HNW clients ($5M in household net worth).
  • Efforts in 2019 on RMA were focused on integrating the certification into the operations, database, and web site. This took much of the year, but now the RMA program is supported and operated by the entire certification group, the database supports the program in multiple ways, and the web site interface is consistent with CIMA and CPWA certifications. In addition, the RMA Certification Commission made educational program enhancements, increasing RMA content addressing Social Security and Medicare.  
2019 represented a significant year of progress, advancing the Institute toward its mission and objectives, and continuing to raise the bar of professionalism within the industry, as we have done for 34 years.
We thank you, the Investments & Wealth Institute member, for your time, effort and commitment to your professional association, and your support of our mission. Without your participation in membership, certification, live and online education initiatives, and as part of committees and volunteer activities, we could not advance and protect the integrity of the marks and the mission.
Best wishes for a wonderful 2020!