CPWA Certification: Meeting International Standards for Wealth Advisors

Posted by Allison Edmondson, Director of Communications

Jun 23, 2022 3:00:00 PM

Denver, CO —  June 23, 2022  — The premier professional association, education provider and standards body for financial advisors, the Investments & Wealth Institute (the Institute), announced that its Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) certification, the advanced certification for advisors who serve high-net-worth clients, has met all personnel certification requirements to be accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) under the international standard ISO/IEC 17024:2012.

Accreditation was granted after evaluation by ANAB against their standards on the processes required to earn and maintain the CPWA certification. The CPWA certification successfully demonstrates that the certification’s requirements, policies and procedures are fair, objective, open and transparent. In addition, the Institute demonstrated sound financial and management systems and a certification process that consistently distinguishes those who meet a global standard of competency and skills in private wealth management from those who do not.

“The Institute is honored to earn accreditation for the CPWA certification from ANAB. Obtaining this accreditation shows our dedication to quality, impartiality, transparent and fair and objective certification standards,” said Sean R. Walters, CAE®, chief executive officer, Investments & Wealth Institute. “The Institute voluntarily undertook the ANAB accreditation process to validate and ensure that CPWA professionals, and the CPWA process, consistently meet high standards of professional development. Certificants, clients, employers and regulators can continue to be assured that the CPWA® marks are granted and administered under rigorous guidelines.”

The CPWA certification is the Institute’s second certification accredited by ANAB. Initially accredited in 2011, the Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) certification was the first financial services credential in the United States accredited by ANAB. In 2016 and again in 2021, CIMA certification was re-accredited as a global certification, with a global body of knowledge and skills for investment advisors.

To meet the rigorous ANAB ISO/IEC 17024 accreditation standard for personnel certifications, the Institute demonstrated its adherence to nearly 120 individual standards, including those that can be summarized in the following broad categories:

  • Credibility and Consistency: The certification examination must be fair, valid and reliable. The examination cannot discriminate between persons based upon non-competency-related factors such as race, age, gender or ethnicity. A valid examination correctly measures whether an individual has the necessary competencies for the job. Validity is an indicator to establish that the process measures what it is intended to measure. Reliability demonstrates that the examination measures a person’s abilities in a consistent manner.

  • Independence: The certification body involves a balanced representation of key stakeholders in making certification-related decisions, without undue influence by business interests. The certification functions must be independent of training to ensure that confidentiality, information security and impartiality are not compromised.

  • Impartiality: The certification body must demonstrate that its structure, policies and procedures ensure impartiality and objectivity and that it manages conflict of interest arising from certification activities.

  • Transparency and Accountability: The certification body is required to have an active complaint process to resolve complaints against its activities as well as complaints against individuals that it has certified. The certification body must have due process for taking away a credential for unethical or incompetent behavior.

  • Continuous Quality Improvement: Management systems are in place to ensure continual improvement of the certification program and the stability of the certifying body. The standard is comprehensive and covers all aspects of certification including examination and data security, recertification, resource requirements, confidentiality, competence of personnel involved with certification activities, financial requirements and use of certification and logo marks.

“There’s a reason that fewer than 5% of financial services credentialing programs meet accreditation standards,” said Walters. “It’s too easy in our industry for opportunistic players to offer credentialing programs without fully understanding what is required. Few create absolute separation between examination and education. Fewer monitor examination results and use psychometric data to ensure continued validity and reliability of the exam as the final arbiter of entitlement to certification. And even fewer require ongoing continuing competency or enforcement of disciplinary standards. When an advisor says they are certified, it should mean they met rigorous initial standards, and that the credentialing body consistently and objectively re-certifies competency in the job being certified.”
To maintain the accreditation, ANAB requires more ongoing rigor by the credentialing body than other standards. ANAB requires annual surveillance applications, coupled with annual audits by assessors and reapplication every five years.

The CPWA Certification Process
CPWA candidates must successfully demonstrate five years of experience in financial services, pass a background check, complete an executive education program and pass a four-hour comprehensive certification exam to become a certified professional. To maintain the CPWA certification, holders must complete and report 40 hours of continuing education, including two hours of ethics and one hour of tax and regulations education, every two years.  The CPWA program is currently offered in partnership with The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Yale School of Management. In addition, the Institute enforces adherence to its Code of Professional Responsibility through its Disciplinary Rules and Procedures, administered by a volunteer-run Professional Review Board.

About ANAB
The ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) is the largest multi-disciplinary ISO/IEC 17011 accreditation body in North America, with comprehensive signatory status across the multilateral recognition arrangements of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and International Accreditation Forum (IAF). The ANAB accreditation portfolio includes management systems certification bodies, calibration and testing labs, product certification bodies, personnel credentialing organizations, forensic test and calibration service providers, inspection bodies, police crime units, greenhouse gas validation and verification bodies, reference material producers, and proficiency test providers.
ANAB is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the U.S. voluntary standards and conformity assessment systems and strengthening their impact, both domestically and internationally, including by administering procedures and criteria for accreditation of conformity assessment programs and encouraging organizations to prepare and submit such programs for accreditation.

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