The CFA Institute’s heritage has long been with institutional equity portfolio managers. But the profile of the CFA’s member base is changing. Today, 40 percent of its members globally and 44 percent of members in the Americas are either fully or partially managing private client assets, according to self-reported data. That compares to 29 percent of members globally in 2009.
“I don’t have to tell you in this room that we are in a secular CFA Institute membership shift toward private wealth that will only accelerate as the global middle class explodes over the next two decades,” said John Bowman, managing director of the CFA Institute in the Americas, speaking to the organization’s annual conference in Montreal this week.
Of those CFA charterholders who manage private client assets, most of them work with higher net worth individuals.
Worldwide, there are 137,000 CFA members and 147 member societies. And while the number of CFAs continues to grow, the public awareness of the mark is lacking, Bowman said.
“The investment industry has long suffered for not cultivating a public warranty on Main Street and in the public square,” Bowman said. “We haven’t articulated properly enough why we are necessary to society and the difference that we make. What is the value that we provide? Are we worth the money that we charge? What can we offer an investor that they can’t get from a robo advisor or another lower cost plug and play strategy?”
In the Americas, the CFA hopes to gain recognition for charterholders as the go-to advisors and private wealth managers for high-net-worth investors, Bowman said. To reach that status, charterholders have to ascribe to full transparency, the highest standards of care and facilitating investor outcomes.
“Our organizations, your organizations in your day jobs, public relations must stop severing our clients on a dogged pursuit of alpha generation, relative returns, quarter-over-quarter fund rankings and instead highlight our good work in stewarding investors’ goals and dreams,” Bowman said. “The only benchmark that matters is the client or the beneficiary.”
Two months ago, the organization launched a global brand campaign in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, China and India. The campaign, called “A Difference That Matters,” aims to increase awareness of the CFA designation and the difference it makes when selecting or hiring an investment advisor. This summer, the campaign will go live in Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.