CFA Institute Wants to Fill the AI Skills Gap

Only 3 percent of investment professionals say they are proficient in artificial intelligence and machine learning concepts, according to a CFA Institute survey.

Illustration by II

Illustration by II

There is a paucity of finance professionals skilled at using artificial intelligence and machine learning and the CFA Institute is betting a new certificate can change that.

The institute, best known for its rigorous, three-level namesake credential, announced Wednesday that it has created a separate Data Science for Investment Professionals Certificate. Although anyone is eligible for the certificate — not just CFA charterholders — the CFA Institute is targeting analysts, portfolio managers, and traders. Knowledge of data science is not required to be eligible for the certificate.

To get the certificate, participants must complete five courses, totaling approximately 100 hours of study, and pass a 90-minute assessment. Through instructional videos, coding labs, and case studies from industry practitioners, participants learn to describe and evaluate machine-learning techniques, develop visualizations using programming languages Python and R, and use natural language processing to make investment decisions. They also learn how to explain techniques to non-experts and evaluate machine learning biases, the institute said.

Participants have one year to complete the course, which costs $1,599.

In the CFA Institute’s annual career report last year, almost two-thirds of investment professionals surveyed said they were interested in AI and machine learning but only 3 percent said they were already proficient in those concepts.

Quant firms aren’t the only ones using AI. Traditional asset managers have been integrating it for years. Sophisiticated AI tools have popped up in the Bloomberg Terminal to help managers get an edge. Some investors think new AI tools might be able to help them win mandates from investors.

“Data science is sweeping the investment industry, but currently only about one in four investment professionals interested in acquiring the necessary knowledge is actively doing so. As asset managers continue to adapt to the fast-changing dynamics of the AI, big data, and machine learning environment, everyone in an investment role will need to understand how they can utilize data science techniques,” said Richard Fernand, head of certificate management at the CFA Institute.

The certificate will address the skills gap, Fernand said.

“It equips learners with the knowledge to understand the application of data science in the investment process, as well as the language to be able to explain and translate machine learning concepts and their application to real-world investment problems. These skills will be key for professionals wishing to position themselves for the growing number of jobs found at the intersection of data science and investment management,” he said.

The new certificate comes just a month after the CFA Institute made the “biggest single package of changes” in the organization’s history to its credentialing program. Among the changes were the introduction of specialized tracks to the Level III exam, including private wealth management, private markets, and the traditional portfolio management path.