Tussle Over Designations Rankles Advisors

A dispute over those who want the CIMA degree has caused a ruckus among some of IMCA's members.

The Certified Investment Management Associate degree, or CIMA, is an exclusive certification, and some brokers with the similar CIMC designation are finding that out the hard way.

The Investment Management Consultants Association, which administers the CIMA certification, decided last year (and recently reaffirmed) that CIMC holders who received that certification based solely on work experience must complete the full coursework in order to obtain the CIMA designation. This means attending a week's worth of classes at the Wharton School or its online proxy, rather than completing an eight-hour bridge course.

Given the number of affected brokers (various sources place it at about 100), this matter would seem an unlikely lightning rod for controversy. But a group of CIMCs feel slighted by the decision, and they've begun making noise. Notable among them is Richard Hale of Dayton, Ohio, who believes the IMCA decision is disrespectful to the most experienced brokers.

“These people were the first CIMCs, and are now being told to start over and pay $6,000 for the privilege,” Hale said in a statement.

Soon after the merger between IMCA and the Institute for Certified Investment Management Consultants (ICIMC) in Feb. 2002, the group decided to fade out the CIMC designation in favor of CIMA. This designation allowed brokers to use the bridge course, providing that scores could be documented. Consequently, some of the most experienced brokers — including those who actually helped construct the testing process — did not qualify for the bridge course. IMCA president Richard Joyner says in a statement that IMCA could not “waive its professional and educational standards” for Hale. IMCA revisited the issue, but ultimately let its original decision stand.

Currently, there are about 825 CIMC holders and 2,700 CIMAs in IMCA. Approximately 40 percent of CIMC holders have either signed up for or completed the bridge course.

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