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Alternative Investment Education - September 16, 2005

Standards critical to healthy industry expansion

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. With examinees at the July exam session at an all time high and early registrations for the February testing period breaking new records, the Chartered Alternative Investment AnalystSM designation is being confirmed as the global standard of excellence in the alternative investment industry.

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

Massive inflows of institutional money into alternative investments are creating historic opportunities for the industry and imposing new responsibilities and challenges upon players. While an expanding industry calls for an expanding base of professionals serving investors, there is a risk to the community if knowledge and skills are allowed to lag behind.

"Ensuring an adequate supply of highly-educated, ethical professionals well-versed in the industry’s latest developments is crucial to the healthy expansion of the AI industry globally," says Craig Asche, executive director of the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst AssociationSM. "We are delighted to play a role in fulfilling this critical need and grateful for the support and encouragement of local regulatory authorities," he adds.

Founded in 2002 under the auspices of AIMA and CISDM, the association is a vocal advocate of education and professionalism in the field of alternative investments, and 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, hedge funds, commodities and managed futures.

Since inception, the CAIASM programme has attracted over 3,000 professionals representing hundreds of companies in close to 50 countries worldwide. "Now about 30% of candidates are from Europe where Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and France make up the bulk of the battalions and Germany and Italy are also significant contributors of candidates," says Professor Frédéric Ducoulombier, head of EDHEC Alternative Investment Education. The executive education offshoot of the EDHEC Risk and Asset Management Research Centre has been serving European candidates for a year as the CAIA Association’s exclusive provider of preparatory courses in the region.

Asche and Ducoulombier underline that the certification programme appeals to a wide variety of professionals and companies.

"CAIASM candidates 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 alternative investment," says Asche.

"Past participants in our review courses illustrate the wide appeal of the CAIASM programme," says Ducoulombier. "While Fund Managers, Analysts, Consultants and Research Heads were dominant in the classrooms, we also helped Product, Marketing and Sales Managers and Legal personnel prepare for the exam," he adds. EDHEC Alternative Investment Education’s client list includes boutiques and giants alike: "Among the individuals we successfully helped prepare for the last exam session were professionals from EIM, Man, PSolve AIM, GLG MMI, Fauchier Partners, and Olympia Capital Management."

Acquiring a sound knowledge of alternative investments, keeping up with the latest advances, and obtaining an independent certification of skills to develop are some of the key reasons drawing individuals and firms towards the CAIA designation.

Guaranteeing a high level of competence to increasingly demanding investors and getting ahead of competitors are the main drivers of institutional support for the CAIA programme.

"This designation gives advisors an edge over their competitors, and advisees a higher comfort level knowing their advisor is qualified," Asche explains.

"While the majority of candidates register of their own volition, institutional sponsorship of group registrations has picked up dramatically. We are seeing large alternative managers signing up multiple employees into our preparation courses and have been approached to train whole teams of specialists through tailor-made in-house CAIASMreview sessions," says Ducoulombier whose structure has been offering open-enrolment courses in London, Geneva and Paris for a year. "There is also a small but growing number of alternative specialists who make it a requirement for their professionals to pass the two exams that lead to the CAIA certification," he adds.

For further information about the CAIA designation and the EDHEC AI Education review course, log on to: www.edhec-risk.com/AIeducation/CAIA or write to AIeducation@edhec.edu.