IWI History

For nearly 40 years, Investments & Wealth Institute has been the professional home for forward-looking professionals across investments, wealth management, and retirement planning.

See where we come from. Imagine what’s next.

1985: Investments & Wealth Institute Is Founded as IMCA®

In 1985, eight investment consultants founded the Investment Management Consultants Association® (IMCA®) to broaden public understanding of investment consulting and increase the professionalism of those providing consulting services through education, ethics, and certification.

1988: CIMA® Certification Is Established

Since 1988, the Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) designation has empowered financial advisors and investment consultants to elevate their practice to provide sophisticated solutions for individual and institutional investors. CIMA-certified advisors demonstrate professionalism and expertise in their investment management roles, regardless of channel.

2007: CPWA® Certification Is Established

In 2007, the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) certification was created to develop and assess broad knowledge and skill competencies for advisors who work with high-net-worth (HNW) clients. The CPWA designation provides the specialized and advanced knowledge to deepen understanding of the wealth lifecycle and develop customized strategies for unique wealth management challenges.

2011: CIMA® Gains Accreditation

In April 2011, CIMA® certification gained additional credibility as the first financial advisor certification to achieve third-party accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)—now known as the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB). At that time, this accreditation distinguished CIMA® certification as the first and only financial services certification in the United States to meet international standards (ISO 17024) for personnel certification.

2012: IWI Creates the Wealth Management Body of Knowledge

In 2012, Investments & Wealth Institute defined wealth management after conducting a comprehensive analysis of professionals who serve wealthy clients. Based on the job analysis study, IWI defined wealth management as “a distinct field of practice, through which qualified professionals help HNW clients achieve their goals and objectives related to the accumulation, protection and distribution of wealth by applying a set of specialized knowledge and skills.”

With that definition and our detailed Body of Knowledge as a guide, CPWA certification was refined to address this advanced professional competency.

2017: IMCA® Becomes Investments & Wealth Institute

In late April 2017, in response to thoughtful discussion, extensive research, and member feedback, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to change the name of the organization. The name Investments & Wealth Institute more accurately reflects the organization’s professional development offerings.

With our new name, we also mapped curriculum to IWI’s Body of Knowledge, the rigorously maintained competency matrix that articulates the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for professionals who manage money for individual and institutional clients. IWI formally announced our new name on October 16, 2017, at the Private Wealth Advisor Forum in Chicago.

2018: RMA® Certification Comes to IWI

As IWI’s ongoing research continued to refine the competency matrix that defines wealth management, we realized that although our advanced CIMA and CPWA certifications were well developed programs, many of the retirement planning educational options available to financial advisors were limited, tilting toward specific products. Our members—who are typically seasoned advisors—sought a more holistic, objectively comprehensive certification.

In response to this need, IWI acquired the Retirement Management Advisor® (RMA®) certification, a well-respected, comprehensive, and academically sound program previously administered by the Retirement Income Industry Association (RIIA).

2020: Investments & Wealth Foundation Scholarship Fund Is Established

As part of our overall mission and purpose, IWI aims to not just advance the financial advising profession generally, but a profession where financial advisors from all backgrounds thrive. To foster a more diverse and sustainable workforce within the profession, the Investments & Wealth Foundation—IWI’s 501(c)(3) public charity—was created to provide certification scholarships for those who are underrepresented in our industry and began awarding scholarships in 2020.

By 2022, IWI had seen a 41% increase in female certification applicants; a 40% increase in independent advisor applicants; and a 109% increase in the number of BIPOC applicants.

2022: CPWA® Earns ANAB Accreditation

Across financial services credentialing programs, fewer than 5% meet accreditation standards. In 2022, the CPWA® certification joined CIMA® as an accredited program, meeting the meticulous international standards set by ANAB for personnel credentialing organizations

2025: Investments and Wealth Institute Celebrates 40th Anniversary

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