CFA Institute Launches New Research and Policy Initiatives

The research dovetails with the laundry list of changes the CFA Institute announced earlier this year.

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On the heels of making the biggest single package of changes earlier this year, the CFA Institute has taken another step toward modernizing and growing its influence in the investment industry.

On Wednesday, the Institute officially launched its new Research and Policy Center, which will publish research via an affiliates program and engage with policymakers globally.

“What we have found is that the marketplace today is filled with a lot of think tanks and ideas, but oftentimes, these think tanks and ideas do not have practical value,” Andrews said. “We are trying to create a new way of thinking in the global financial industry.”

The launch of the research and policy center coincides with the release of its first report: A survey of 3,000 investment professionals about the megatrends driving the industry forward.

The trends are, perhaps, unsurprising. Investors are paying attention to four themes moving ahead: sustainable finance, digital transformation, the end of cheap money, and what the CFA Institute calls “diverging worlds.” This refers to deglobalization, aging populations, personalization, and socioeconomic inequality.

Many of these themes dovetail with the changes the CFA Institute made earlier this year. The institute added specialized tracks to the Level III exam, such as private wealth management and private markets. The traditional portfolio management path remains.

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The changes included adding practical skills courses like coding for investment managers — a decision to address the job concerns of institute members. According to the survey, 71 percent of respondents believe that the primary driver of job role disruption in the coming years will be new analytical methods of investing, including artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The primary use case currently for AI and big data is data analysis, according to 56 percent of the respondents. Where AI and big data are the most helpful, 45 percent of survey respondents said, is in automating repetitive tasks, freeing up more time for staffers.

From a firm strategy perspective, 21 percent of respondents said both building stronger technology and managing talent were the most strategically important priorities.

“Our mission is basically to have finance for good in the marketplace,” Vinelli said. “That’s quite broad but that breaks down to our role of making sure that there’s the human capacity out there to do that.”

Vinelli noted that the Research and Policy Institute will be a key part of achieving this goal moving forward.

As a part of the research and policy effort, the CFA Institute has created an affiliate program, in which researchers join the organization for one year to complete studies on a specific topic. The institute is wrapping up its first cohort of affiliates and is actively seeking a new group of professionals for the coming year.

“We have a range of experiences and skills in this affiliate group from people who are starting out in their career to people who are much more seasoned and want to contribute from a different perspective,” Vinelli said. “We’re looking for partnerships both with individuals and organizations in the industry to produce research, policies, and comment letters.”

Comment letters and policies are another part of the center’s work too. “We work closely on a regional and national government level to seek influence in a variety of ways,” Vinelli said. He added: “It really does depend on the jurisdiction, how we work to make sure that policies out there are protecting investors and basically fostering the health of capital markets.”

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