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AI Education - October 04, 2004

Institutions see benefits in AI certification

Explosive growth in the funds flowing into alternative investments, institutional investors’ increased appetite for hedge funds and calls for greater regulation have heightened the need for standards within the industry. The Chartered Alternative Investment AnalystSM designation is emerging as the global standard of excellence in the alternative investment industry.

EDHEC Business School is the Exclusive Official CAIA Association Course Provider for Europe

Explosive growth in the funds flowing into alternative investments, institutional investors’ increased appetite for hedge funds and calls for greater regulation have heightened the need for standards within the industry.

Founded in 2002 under the auspices of Thomas Schneeweis of CISDM and Florence Lombard of AIMA, the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst AssociationSM is a vocal advocate of education and professionalism in the field of alternative investments, as well as being the sponsoring body for the CAIASM designation, the educational standard that is quickly becoming the hallmark of excellence in the alternative investment industry.

Recognized globally, the CAIASM charter certifies an individual’s mastery of the concepts, tools and practices essential for managing traditional and modern alternative vehicles such as real estate, private equity, commodities, hedge funds and managed futures.

The CAIASM programme has already attracted well over 1,000 candidates representing more than 300 organizations, and the number of new registrations is doubling every six months,” says Craig Asche, the association’s Executive Director.

CAIASM candidates come from 35 countries and include new industry participants seeking to establish a core understanding of alternative investments, generalists wishing to add another asset class to their investment arsenal, and seasoned professionals looking to explore new areas within the AI markets,” he explains. Examinees come from a variety of institutions including the Blackstone Group, Blumont Capital, BNP Paribas, Calyon Financial, Deutsche Bank, GAM, HSBC, ING, Ivy Asset Management, Man Group plc, Merrill Lynch, Tremont and UBS.

At first, the majority of candidates registered of their own volition to develop a solid grounding in alternatives, to keep up to date with the industry’s rapid evolution, or to increase their credibility and develop a competitive edge by adding the prestigious CAIA letters after their name. “But now we’re seeing institutional sponsorship of group registrations,” says Asche. Institutions like Citigroup are signing up multiple employees while some alternative specialists make it a requirement for their professionals to pass the two exams that lead to the CAIA certification.

One of them is California-based Pacific Alternative Asset Management Company, a hedge fund-of-funds investment manager: “The CAIA programme provides a common analytical foundation for our employees, making it easier for us to more effectively serve our institutional investors. As a result, we consider it required training for both investment and non-investment personnel,” explains Managing Director Jane Buchan. Along with Mark Anson, CIO of CalPERS and celebrated author of The Handbook of Alternative Assets, Buchan is a recent addition to the CAIA Association’s Advisory Board, a committee of expert academics and practitioners that defines what elements are essential to the curriculum.

"This designation is rapidly gaining credibility within the industry,” says Asche. “It gives advisors an edge over their competitors, and advisees a higher comfort level knowing their advisor is qualified,” he maintains.

While a majority of CAIA candidates come from North-America, already over 25% of registrants are from Europe,” says Frédéric Ducoulombier, an associate professor at EDHEC, the French Business School handpicked by the CAIA Association to be its exclusive official provider of preparatory courses for Europe. “We are registering strong interest in the CAIA designation and our review solutions,” says the head of the executive education arm set up by the school to cater to the needs of alternative investment professionals. Most information requests and orders have come from professionals and institutions in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and France where EDHEC Alternative Investment Education has announced it would be offering live instruction for the CAIASM programme, he explains. However, Ducoulombier has also recorded significant interest in the certification in Germany, Italy and Benelux, areas which EDHEC AI Education will cover through its offering of on-line courses and software.

Our clients and prospects demonstrate that the CAIASM programme appeals to a dazzling variety of professionals and institutions,” says Ducoulombier. “They include Fund Managers and Directors; Analysts, Consultants and Research Heads; Product, Marketing and Sales Managers; Lawyers; as well as chief executives,” he adds. According to Ducoulombier, who says he has been getting requests from boutiques and giants alike, these professionals represent Hedge Funds; CTAs; Asset Allocation Advisors; Funds of Funds; Asset Management Organizations; Private Banks; Venture Capital Firms; and Institutional Investors. “It is comforting to see this much interest for a demanding training programme and to see the CAIA designation emerge as the global educational standard for alternative investment professionals,” he concludes.

For further information about the CAIA programme and the products offered by EDHEC AI Education, please visit: www.edhec-risk.com/AIeducation/ or e-mail AIeducation@edhec.edu.