As we celebrate our 30-year anniversary and close the books on another successful year, it’s important to reflect on where IMCA came from and the path that led us where we are today. IMCA’s founders built your organization in 1985 on three key pillars that are as important today as they have ever been: membership and community, educational rigor, and ethics and standards.
Most associations and small businesses don’t survive their first few years, so the fact that we’re celebrating our 30-year anniversary—and that we continue to grow steadily and remain increasingly relevant—is a significant milestone.
What has made IMCA successful for 30 years?
I believe the three key pillars that guided our founders in 1985 fuel our success today and will continue to guide us into the future:
1. Membership and community was important to our founders, and it means a lot to you today. In 2015 IMCA membership grew by almost 5% to more than 10,000 members in 32 countries worldwide and maintained a 91% retention rate. The number of CIMA certified professionals grew by 6%, and the number of CPWA certified professionals grew by 16%.
IMCA added several new member benefits in 2015, including a complimentary magazine subscription for IMCA members, a new thought-leader blog, , a newsletter for international members, and an enhanced portal where you can track and report your CE in an online, secure environment.
2. Educational rigor inspired our founders, and it guides our mission today. As lifelong learners and advanced practitioners, you expect only the highest education from your professional association. It all starts with the CIMA® certification, and in 2015 we introduced MIT as a new online registered program provider. Wiley published a new textbook in collaboration with IMCA titled, “," which is a compendium of chapters from various investment texts to reflect the new CIMA certification body of knowledge.
I have been involved with financial advisor associations for nearly 20 years and I would put the quality of IMCA’s conferences up against anything out there. More than 4,750 individuals participated in IMCA’s educational offerings or conferences this year, with more than 1,800 attending our Annual Conference in Las Vegas alone. All told, we enlisted 152 speakers who delivered 170 hours of CE in 10 cities this year. We launched a new Focus Series of advanced workshops, with the inaugural event——held in Washington D.C. in September. We’ve re-branded some of our conferences for 2016, so be sure to check out the 2016 IMCA Conference Calendar and plan to join us next year.
In addition to our live events, we introduced an online Applied Behavioral Finance certificate program last month. Within two weeks of the product launch, nearly 100 students signed up to learn advanced and practical strategies for dealing with clients’ non-rational—or what faculty contributor Meir Statman calls, “normal”—behavior.
3. Ethics and standards are at the forefront of our mission and purpose as an association for advanced investment and wealth advisors. While today’s fiduciary debate continues, it’s important to remember that IMCA was an early adopter of the client-first standard—as early as 1987 we were requiring members to act “solely in the best interest of their clients.” In 2015 we announced a revised and guidance standards. We also practice what we preach: IMCA has maintained its commitment to high-quality certification practices by maintaining ANSI accreditation of the CIMA certification program.
Today’s investors demand the same high standards. In August, we released IMCA-sponsored research highlighting client expectations for advisors. Not surprisingly, a majority of investors expect their advisor to hold voluntary certifications, and 84% say it’s important that their advisor meets ongoing standards to maintain their credentials.
Of course, our hard-working staff of 35 in Denver and IMCA’s 150+ volunteers are the key reasons we’ve had such a tremendous 2015. But you—the IMCA member—are the reason IMCA continues to be relevant and successful after 30 years. We are fortunate to have passionate individuals like you working to advance the profession and caring about making a difference for your clients.
Happy holidays, and best wishes for a prosperous new year. We look forward to seeing you in 2016!
Sean R. Walters, CAE
Executive Director and CEO