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On value, integrity and shaping the future

By Elizabeth Dooley  
May 17, 2019
As the premier global association for investment management professionals, CFA Institute works to build an industry in which investors’ interests come first, financial markets function at their best, and economies grow. Central to the organisation’s mission is developing professionals who are technically proficient and committed to ethical principles. For asset management companies around the world, the CFA designation has become one of the most trusted symbols of talent and expertise.

“From a recruitment perspective, we look at talent and resources from a wide variety of institutions. Our experience of bringing in CFA charterholders has been one of our strongest recruitment routes and one that we go back to all the time,” notes JP Morgan’s CEO Asset Management Asia Pacific, Daniel Watkins.

For Mr. Watkins, CFA charterholders understand the value of having a fiduciary mindset and the importance of values like integrity, honesty and transparency. “… [in addition to these values] they also have the analytical skills, technical skills and the practical skills required to be successful in this industry,” he adds.
Intense study
The CFA® Program is one of the most rigorous certification programmes in the financial industry. Fewer than one in five candidates earn the CFA charter. It takes an average of 1,000+ hours of intense study, along with four years of professional experience, and successful completion of the CFA Program’s three exams, to earn the distinction of being called a Chartered Financial Analyst®. Intense focus and dedication are required to pass such a demanding self-study programme, and this is a telling sign of how committed every charterholder is to their professional development.

Sunjiv Mainie, Global Head of Research & Design for S&P Dow Jones Indices, points out that of his 27 analysts, 80% are either CFA charterholders or are enrolled and studying in the CFA Program: “All our analysts are committed to furthering their ability, their skills, and their research, such that collectively as a firm, and as a research department, we are able to stay on top of emerging trends.”

James Fletcher, Director and Senior Portfolio Manager at APG Asset Management Asia, agrees: “When we’re looking for an analyst of the highest calibre, someone who can do the deepest and most rigorous research, we’ll often look to a CFA charterholder. It’s having the intellectual skill to be able to see through all the short-term factors and invest in a long-term and sustainable way. We have seen that CFA charterholders have the integrity and the ethical judgement that we look for in an employee.”

Ethics is integral to the CFA Program and is ingrained in a CFA charterholder. And at a time when, for many, trust in the investment industry is low, this is a very valuable trait to have. CFA charterholders stand for fiduciary duty, uphold a code of ethics and standards of professional conduct, and work to improve outcomes for investors by acting in their interests.

For Kam Shing Kwang, CEO of JP Morgan Asia Private Bank, the CFA Program enables charterholders to stay up to speed with the ever-changing industry. She is also confident that the discipline required to complete the programme independently, shows that CFA charterholders are keen to improve themselves professionally and can be trusted to keep adapting as the industry evolves.
Evolving industry standards
With new technology entering and changing the industry all the time, the skills learned through the CFA Program also provide charterholders with the aptitude and confidence to embrace these new technologies and, with their better human judgement, help develop a better world for investors. In doing so, they are not only adapting to the present, but are also helping to shape the future of the investment industry.

This is a sentiment shared by Alex Ng, CIO of APAC at BNP Paribas Asset Management: “The world today is continuously evolving and customers have increasingly more choices. We are looking for people who are prepared to push the envelope in an ethical way by being the best at what they can do.”

For Mr. Ng, a CFA charterholder himself, the value of hiring a CFA charterholder is, first and foremost, in the interest of integrity. He points to the increased regulations by stock markets that require companies to report on ESG dimensions, and the fact that by 2020 it will become mandatory to do so in China too.

Assessing risk and uncovering opportunities have long been the pillars of a successful investment strategy. By integrating ESG into investment analysis, CFA Institute is confident that through training and ongoing professional development, CFA charterholders will acquire the necessary skills to perform a complete and comprehensive analysis of any investment they are looking to make.

With the belief that stronger markets and healthy economies begin with putting investors’ interests first, CFA Institute and its more than 162,000 CFA charterholders around the world continue to build trust in the investment management industry.

Richard Mak, Head of Advisory Services Asia at Pictet Wealth Management notes: “We are in the client servicing business. Nothing is more important than our client satisfaction. Without taking care of clients’ interests, our business cannot survive.”

He adds: “The key attributes I’m looking for in my team members are good expertise, knowledge in their respective areas, the ability to communicate with clients and a willingness to work as part of a team. The first important step is to build the trust and the high ethical standards that are emphasised in the CFA Program – which are very important factors for advancing this process.”