Defining Wealth Management: The Professional Body of Knowledge

Understand how advanced knowledge, skills, and capabilities come together to empower today’s financial advisory practitioners and teams.

The pursuit of professional excellence starts here.

Elevating Professional Standards for Financial Advisors

The wealth management profession is constantly evolving in response to rapidly changing market, political, technology, and societal dynamics. In addition, financial and wealth advisors must be sensitive to changes in client behaviors, motivations, and expectations.

In such an environment, it’s essential to have a clearly defined understanding of the skills, knowledge, and capabilities that will distinguish your expertise—and enable you to provide your clients with positive outcomes in a competitive global marketplace.

Research Report: Defining Wealth Management

To create IWI’s Body of Knowledge—the heart of our certifications and the foundation of a thriving profession—we combine a proven job analysis methodology with the real-world experience of the best and brightest in our industry.

The result is a set of core competencies that are recognized across academic and industry institutions as the preeminent requirements for an advanced, holistic wealth management practice.

Read the Research Report

Defining the Investment & Wealth Institute Body of Knowledge

A Body of Knowledge is a documented set of core competencies you must meet to practice your profession. Professional associations across the financial services industry have documented their own sets of core competencies.

Key Financial Advising Qualifications

To deliver comprehensive and tailored financial advisory services for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and institutions, wealth management professionals and teams must demonstrate core competencies across three distinct roles.

Investment management analysts, who employ advanced portfolio construction and strategic investment skillsets to navigate complex portfolio challenges while providing objective, insightful guidance.

Private wealth advisors, who leverage a multidisciplinary approach to provide holistic guidance for sophisticated and savvy high-net-worth individuals, families, and firms.

Retirement management advisors, who guide clients in creating a wealth plan, accumulating wealth, and managing risk to protect their income during the decumulation phase of retirement.

The CIMA® Body of Knowledge: Skills for Investment Management Analysts

Balancing theory and practical knowledge, the CIMA® certification covers 5 knowledge domains and 22 sections. These topics go beyond the fundamentals, providing deep experience with advanced portfolio management, portfolio construction, and risk management techniques and a systematic process advisors and consultants can use to activate client strategies.

Learn how these capabilities are weighted on the CIMA® exam



Statistics and Methods

Applied Finance and Economics

Global Capital Markets




Fixed Income

Alternative Investments

Options and Futures

Real Assets

Portfolio Theory and Behavioral Finance

Portfolio Theories and Models

Behavioral Finance

Investment Philosophies and Styles

Tools And Strategies

Risk and Return

Attributes of Risk

Risk Measurements

Performance Measurement and Attribution

Portfolio Construction and Consulting Process


Client Discovery

Investment Policy

Portfolio Construction

Manager Search and Selection

Portfolio Review and Revisions

The CPWA® Body of Knowledge: Skills for Private Wealth Advisors

Uniquely designed to marry wealth management knowledge with human dynamics, the CPWA® certification covers 4 knowledge domains and 11 sections. These topics provide specialty skills for dealing with legacy issues, family estates, and the needs of executives and closely held business owners.

Learn how these capabilities are weighted on the CPWA® Exam


Human Dynamics


Behavioral Finance

Family Dynamics

Wealth Management Technical Design

Tax Planning

Portfolio Management

Risk Management and Asset Protection

Legacy Issues

Charitable Giving and Endowments

Estate Issues and Wealth Transfer

Specialty Client Services

Planning for Executives

Planning for Closely Held Business Owners

Retirement Management

The RMA® Body of Knowledge: Skills for Retirement Management Advisors

The capabilities required for RMA® certification cover 4 knowledge domains and 11 sections. They empower retirement advisors to bring an understanding of client behavioral drivers together with retirement lifecycle planning best practices, enabling a higher level of service for high-net-worth clients.

Learn how these capabilities are weighted on the RMA® exam


The Retirement Opportunity

Module 1—The Retirement Landscape

Module 2—The Retirement Mindset

Module 3—The Ethical Advisor

The Retirement Client

Module 4—Client Discovery and Analysis

Module 5—Assessing Retirement Readiness

Module 6—Retirement Risk Management

Retirement Planning Technical Design

Module 7—Retirement Portfolio Allocations

Module 8—Key Retirement Planning Decisions

Module 9—Implementation Strategies

Module 10—Life in Transition

Module 11—Retirement Policy Statement

Leverage the Strength of Committed CIMA® Educators*

* Please note that faculty and lecturers at partner institutions are subject to change.

“I learned about Investments & Wealth Institute about 20 years ago and found they have deeper, richer content in their journals and conferences than some other certifying organizations. And they have two of the only financial advisor certifications that are accredited at the highest levels, including global accreditation. That was important to Yale in deciding which certification we wanted to support with our education program.”

Jim Dobbs, CIMA®, CFP®, CPWA®
CIMA® Program Director, Yale School of Management

Building Your Wealth Management Practice: Empower Your Teams

As you can see, the core competency for each IWI certification focuses on a specialized area of financial advising.

But because they take a multidisciplinary approach, the three certifications are not siloed.

When combined, the three core competency matrices form a powerful, overarching Body of Knowledge that empowers advisors and firms to offer comprehensive, holistic services—and foster long-term, highly successful client relationships.

Specialized Knowledge + Advanced Capabilities = Exceptional Outcomes


of IWI-certified advisors serve a core market with more than $2 million in assets


is the mean assets per client of CPWA advisors - 3.9x higher than non-CPWA practices


of IWI members are part of practices managing $250 million or more in assets


of practices with more than one CIMA professional advise high net-worth and ultra-high net-worth clients


Who decides what’s included in the core competencies?

Investments & Wealth Institute applies an internationally accredited best practices approach to personnel certification. We partner with third-party psychometric organizations—experts in job task analysis—to conduct ongoing surveys with financial advising professionals and their clients. IWI, our board of directors, and our certification commissions leverage these studies as they continually monitor industry trends and innovations in investment and wealth management practices.

Read Our Job Analysis Research

How does the Body of Knowledge inform certifications and exams?

IWI brings together teams of experts—including our certification commissions, third-party education researchers, independent testing agencies, and IWI member volunteers—to ensure exams and certification requirements accurately reflect the knowledge, skills, and competencies defined in the Body of Knowledge.

Learn About IWI Exam Standards

How do education providers use the Body of Knowledge?

Education providers for the CIMA®, CPWA®, and RMA® education programs do not see exam questions—so they are not “teaching to the test.” Instead, they provide comprehensive instruction that covers every core topic in depth. With this pragmatic approach, you can be confident you won’t be learning rote facts. You’ll be incorporating meaningful knowledge that you can use in your practice right away.

Learn about education providers:


How Does a Defined Wealth Management Body of Knowledge Benefit the Financial Advising Profession?

Defining wealth management is a rigorous and demanding process. IWI’s multi-disciplinary Body of Knowledge ensures our standards-based, accredited certification and education programs are built on a solid foundation: a documented standard that defines the skills, knowledge, and capabilities that financial advisors must master to practice their profession.

Learn more about how to integrate IWI’s Body of Knowledge into your practice.

Compare Certifications
Learn About CIMA
Learn About CPWA
Learn About RMA
Explore Online Learning
Become an IWI member

Ready to take the next step?

Phone Icon
Schedule a Call

Speak to an enrollment counselor.

Laptop Icon
Introductory Webinars

Get direct answers in our live presentations.