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The ‘CFA’ - a key learning experience Back  
The Irish Association of Investment Managers (IAIM) represents the interests of 13 member asset management firms in the Irish market. A survey of the membership at the end of December 2003 indicated that these firms were managing monies in excess of €187 billion on behalf of domestic and international clients. The association works closely with the Society of Investment Analysts in Ireland in promoting training in the industry, particularly with respect to the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program writes Ann Fitzgerald.
There is a continued demand for high quality staff in the industry in Ireland, and there are a number of routes available into those roles on offer. The first route is by direct entry as an investment analyst or junior portfolio manager immediately on completion of a first or second level degree. This route would normally require an excellent degree result and a demonstrated knowledge of the business and awareness of investment principles. Aptitude testing would be a standard selection tool at this stage. The second route into the industry is to join a firm with a policy of internal staff development in a back-office, middle-office or client servicing function. Those that distinguish themselves through application and further study can move into a role to eventually manage money themselves.

The IAIM works closely with the Society of Investment Analysts in Ireland in promotion of the CFA Program to employees in the industry. We see the program of exams offered for the professional designation of Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) as a key learning experience for staff within the industry that builds on their university education and work experience. The program is a graduate-level, self-study curriculum and examination program for investment specialists especially securities analysts, money managers and investment advisors. Established in 1962 by the CFA Institute (formerly AIMR) of which the SIAI is a member society, the CFA Program sets the global standard for investment knowledge, standards and ethics. Earning the credential can serve as a ‘passport’ to entry to or advancement within the profession or to work in other countries. It tells clients, employers and colleagues that the charterholder has mastered a rigorous curriculum covering a broad range of investment topics and is committed to the highest ethical standards in the profession.

The exam is held over three levels, to be passed sequentially, with each level building upon the knowledge gained from the previous level. Candidates must demonstrate a working knowledge of the entire portfolio management process and must be capable of applying the concepts learned at Levels I and II to the portfolio management process. Candidates are asked to apply their knowledge to case study questions, recommending strategies that best fit the circumstance of the given investor. The pass rates at each level are very stiff, and only the best candidates make their way wholly through the exam program. There are less than 70 charterholders in the Irish market at the moment, with a candidate pool numbering in the hundreds.

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