Bridge over ocean
21 November 2018 CFA Magazine

The Way Forward

Continuing Professional Development and Societies 2.0

  1. Paul Smith, CFA

Continuing professional development (CPD) and our Societies 2.0 initiative rank at the top of our priority list as an organisation. The coming year will bring much more progress on these initiatives.


I would like to take this opportunity to update you on two very important projects that will affect us all as members of CFA Institute: Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and our Societies 2.0 initiative.

Both of these endeavours rank at the top of our priority list as an organisation. As we continue on our journey to professionalism, we view both of these initiatives as critical to our future path to be the professional body for the industry.

First, with respect to CPD: When you visit a doctor about a health issue or when you ask your accountant to advise on the latest tax changes, you expect that their knowledge will be up-to-date and that you will receive the best possible counsel. To meet those expectations, all respected professions mandate continuing professional development—it’s well understood that professionals must be current on the latest thinking and developments in their industry.

The investment management profession has a patchy record in this regard. Some jurisdictions mandate CPD, and others do not. At CFA Institute, we require members to attest annually that they comply with our Code of Ethics. The code states, in part, “maintain and improve your professional competence.” But we do not prescribe a set number of verifiable hours of mandatory training a year; we merely invite members to attest. We leave to our members’ discretion their continuing education path, acknowledging that just because something is mandated doesn’t necessarily make it better.

We last put the question of mandatory CPD to a vote in 2002. At that time, mandatory CPD was rejected for a variety of interconnected reasons: the lack of a sound CPD product and framework, the need to deliver CPD digitally, the fear that CPD would be an additional expense on members, and the need to give credit for CPD earned for other designations a member might hold or through providers other than CFA Institute.

Time and technology have moved on—and so have regulation and the need for professionalising our industry. As such, we may need to revisit our membership’s view of this matter.

Our mission statement aspires for us to lead the profession, and so this is a topic we simply must tackle together. We intend to address all the concerns raised by members in 2002 before proceeding; much work remains, however, before we reach this point.

So, what is our plan?

After our members earn the CFA® charter, they have achieved a generalist designation for practitioners. As their careers advance, many members then specialise and require advanced knowledge and localised learning. To serve this need, we plan to create modular CPD educational opportunities grounded in a job role-based competency framework.

CFA Institute has traditionally pursued a knowledge-based method focused on helping learners build on what they already know. In a job-role framework, the learner builds upon the competencies he or she already has.

Over the past year, our Practice Analysis team has diligently reviewed investment professionals’ job roles and the competencies required to succeed in those roles. Our team has developed a first cut of a competency framework that covers three of our identified, core job roles: fundamental analyst, discretionary portfolio manager, and private wealth manager.

Organising by job roles allows us to accommodate various stages of career progression and multiple career paths and support the development of post-CFA Program refresher CPD and advanced specialisations. The first-cut competency framework has been provided to CFA Society United Kingdom for a CPD pilot in 2019.

Importantly, these CPD learning opportunities will be delivered to CFA Institute members through society portals in conjunction with our Societies 2.0 strategy.

This brings me to Societies 2.0, which stands as the framework for a long-term plan to realise an ambitious vision across the entire society network. FY18 was the year in which we built alignment with the vision; in FY19, our goal is to establish the infrastructure that will set us all up for future success.

Technology, human resources, a future-proofed operating framework, ongoing focus on brand-building, and a CPD product framework that meets the career development needs of members are the foundational priorities that will lead us towards a better member experience and support our ambition of increasing professional standards in our markets.

The Societies 2.0 teams have been working hard to drive forward the Societies 2.0 roadmap and encourage more societies to sign the shared vision, which states, in part: “We believe our objectives will be best achieved by positioning societies as the clearest route to our members and their investment communities.”

As of the time of this writing, 148 out of 152 societies have signed the vision statement, which you can view at

We announced an important milestone at the recent regional Society Leadership Conferences: the launch of a new operational funding formula and a joint-planning cycle with societies. Progress is also being made on governance, professional society staffing, society technology, society operational support, and, as noted, CPD.

We validated the objectives and priorities of Societies 2.0 via recent member surveys and research. Based on this research, the objectives and priorities of Societies 2.0 very much align with what matters most both to our members and societies.

The coming year will bring much more progress on these initiatives. Focus and collaboration remain our bywords, and we will continually seek input and feedback from societies and members as we move ahead. Both projects are sea changes for our organisation, and so please feel free to reach out to me with your comments or concerns.


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