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Why industry leadership matters

Why industry leadership matters

CFA Society The Bahamas looks to collaboration to restore trust

The Bahamas Investor Magazine
January 1, 2017
January 1, 2017
Robert Turnquest

The strength of the financial services industry has been mightily tested over the last five to 10 years, on an international and national front. Rising to these challenges are local umbrella bodies such as the CFA Society The Bahamas (CFASB).

Globally, the financial crisis of 2008 raised important questions about the strength and stability of the industry and whether professionals charged with protecting and upholding client interests before their own were worthy of such solemn trust and responsibility. Policymakers and central bankers rose to the forefront in protecting the health of economies and financial markets, while business leaders scrambled to assuage the concerns of their shareholders and regulators.

In The Bahamas, the turbulence seen globally reverberated with similar ferocity, underscored by industry consolidation and changing regulations that created the need to adapt. Though significant progress has been made in regaining the business and trust of industry stakeholders, most professionals and observers agree that much more work remains to be done.

Industry improvements
At this juncture, it is crucial that participants in the financial services industry recognize this current state of affairs and work together to make further progress in regaining the trust of our clients, shareholders, regulators and society at large. This collaboration requires the industry to deliver its message clearly and consistently, and to take action decisively and swiftly for the betterment of clients and society at large. Doing this effectively requires the emergence of industry leaders to proactively mobilize support and push for positive, meaningful and lasting improvements.

On a local level, CFASB intends to demonstrate the leadership required to uphold the strength and integrity of the investment profession. Through its work, the membership organization brings together people participating in and interested in the investment profession to represent the values for which it ought to stand: unwavering ethical principles, ongoing education and awareness of industry best practices. These values are why CFASB exists and why industry leadership matters–to ensure that these core values are vigorously defended and passed along for generations to come.

Society background
Founded in 1990, the CFA Society The Bahamas is a local body of investment practitioners, professionals in the financial services industry, students and other members of society who have shown an interest in the investment management profession. CFASB is a part of a global network of over 140 CFA societies and operates with the support of the CFA Institute (CFAI)–the organization best known for its sponsorship of the Chartered Financial Analyst Programme, which is regarded as a top investment management credential worldwide.

CFAI states that its mission is “to lead the investment profession globally by promoting the highest standards of ethics, education and professional excellence for the ultimate benefit of society.”

It accomplishes these goals through developing and promoting codes of conduct for individuals and organizations; advocating for regulations and policies that protect client interests and the integrity of capital markets; offering the CFA Programme and other professional designations demonstrating globally- accepted levels of competency; and fostering professional membership globally and locally, to encourage proper conduct, development, and networking.

There are over 140 CFA societies across 60 countries, which marks CFAI as one of the largest professional associations worldwide and affords it the reach to meaningfully shape the future of investment management on a global scale.

Shared values
CFASB shares the mission and values of CFAI and actively works to maintain them locally in The Bahamas.

Over the years, CFASB has led a number of activities and initiatives in support of the investment profession in The Bahamas and society at large.

A board of officers and directors comprised of 11 people leads CFASB and oversees a general body of approximately 60 members. The board ensures that CFASB collaborates with other respected and recognized professional associations in the Bahamian financial services landscape, such as The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) and the Association of International Bank & Trust Companies in The Bahamas (AIBT). Through its collaboration with these organizations, CFASB shares its efforts to reach the broadest possible cross section of The Bahamian community. These efforts and initiatives span several core areas, for which our organization has elected directors spearheading these efforts.

They are:
• Scholarship and education
• Programming
• Membership
• Public relations
• Advocacy
• University relations

CFA credentials
The Chartered Financial Analyst Programme is the central educational scheme sponsored by CFAI. It is regarded globally as the most respected and recognized investment management credential. To earn the CFA charter, candidates must pass three examinations across a graduate-level curriculum in key subject areas related to investment decision-making, such as equities, fixed income, portfolio management, economics, statistics and ethics. Earning the charter also requires four years’ work experience in a field related to investment management and a bachelor’s degree (otherwise charterholders must be in the final year of a bachelor’s degree programme).

More than 130,000 investment professionals hold the CFA charter globally, across more than 140 countries. Many regulatory bodies accept the charter as a proxy for meeting certain licensing requirements, and universities are increasingly incorporating the CFA curriculum into their degree programmes. As a globally recognized qualification that serves as a proof of competency, the CFA charter continues to attract thousands of candidates annually and enhance the careers of charterholders.

Here in The Bahamas, CFASB regularly promotes the CFA Charter, the CFA Investment Foundations certificate (formerly known as Claritas) and other educational programmes sponsored by CFAI.

There are over 50 CFA charterholders in The Bahamas, a commendable number that speaks favourably of our country’s commitment to the highest standards of ethics and professional competency. CFASB has arranged for discounted exam preparation courses and materials for candidates of the CFA exams and has offered annual mock exams at minimal cost.

Candidates can sit the CFA exams in The Bahamas, Level I in December or June and Levels II and III in June. CFASB also facilitates need-based and merit-based scholarships for candidates of the CFA exams. Our Society is working continuously to ensure awareness and availability of the ample scholarship and educational opportunities for our candidates and members.

Programming events
Organizing events relevant to the investment profession, financial services and economy of The Bahamas has served our society well over the years. CFASB has held information sessions on the CFA Programme and the CFA Investment Foundations certificate, macroeconomic panels on the Bahamian and global landscapes, roundtable discussions with industry leaders and networking events for members.

In 2017, CFASB plans to continue and build upon its traditional lineup of events. Last September, the annual Kick Off
event was held at the Breezes Resort. It presented an introduction into the CFA Society of The Bahamas, the CFA and CFA Investment Foundations Certificate Programmes, and culminated with a lively panel discussion with two candidates and a recent charterholder on their experiences and advice on navigating the CFA Programme.

Upcoming events include a market forecast panel this month, and a macroeconomic discussion on the Bahamian economy this spring.

Spreading the word
The CFASB has taken deliberate efforts to deliver its message and share its work publicly. It regularly posts advertisements in local Bahamian newspapers and publications and invites members of the press to our events.

It has recently been enhancing its public relations efforts through the use of online media. CFASB has an active website that is updated with information on the society, the CFA Programme, the contact information of the society and its leadership, and a calendar of upcoming events. The website also provides information on scholarship and education opportunities, membership benefits and any news pertinent to the Society.

A LinkedIn page has also been re- launched to facilitate networking among members and interested persons.

Advocacy efforts
The promotion of best practices and high ethical principles requires intentional efforts to encourage key industry stakeholders to uphold these values. To that end, CFAI and the CFA Programme present guidelines for the conduct of members, CFA exam candidates, and participants in the investment profession. These guidelines are formally endorsed by CFAI as the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct (Code and Standards).

Every CFAI member and candidate for the CFA exam is required to sign a pledge to uphold the code and standards and encourage others to do so as well. In addition, CFAI also promotes the adoption of professional standards such as Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS), which guide investment firms on calculating and reporting their performance in an acceptable fashion; and the Asset Management Code of Conduct, designed to drive asset managers to put client interests first.

All of these guidelines are standardized and recognized by CFA members globally, which cultivate an environment of trust and integrity in the investment profession.

As is the case globally, ensuring that trust and integrity in the investment profession is crucial in The Bahamas. Thus, CFA Society The Bahamas has advocated for the adoption of the industry best practices as prescribed by CFAI.

In May 2016, CFASB joined CFA societies globally in recognizing Putting Investors First Month. The society paid courtesy calls to The Central Bank of The Bahamas, National Insurance Board and the Securities Commission of The Bahamas to promote the Asset Manager Code of Conduct. It represented a renewed focus on advocacy on which it hopes to build in the years to come.

Funding the future
Maintaining a close relationship with the students and teachers at the University of The Bahamas has been a source of pride for the society. It is critical that Bahamian students, particularly those studying business, recognize that as future investment professionals in The Bahamas their integrity and competence are vital for successful careers and for a prosperous industry.

Therefore, CFASB, with the support of CFAI, has sponsored awards and scholarships to students at the university, most recently including the presentation of the Phillipa Wilson Memorial Award to the top student in finance.

In addition, CFASB has successfully lobbied for business courses at the university to incorporate concepts covered during in the CFA Programme. Having two members of the CFASB Board serve as lecturers at the University of The Bahamas has been instrumental in successfully implementing this enhancement. It is likely that these developments have been supportive in generating interest and enthusiasm among university students for the society, the CFA Programme and careers in investment management.

CFASB has also spearheaded local research competitions, in which teams of students present the investment merits of a local company from an equity perspective. In February, it will put forward a team of students from the university to participate in the CFA Research Challenge, an international investment competition sponsored by CFAI. The team will compete against neighbouring societies and must write and present the investment merits of a designated company in front of a panel of judges and an international audience. The students will work with an industry mentor and a faculty advisor (both of whom are CFASB members) and follow rules that are governed globally by CFAI.

Winning the Research Challenge in February would allow the team to advance to a larger regional competition featuring teams from the Americas and give the opportunity to later advance to the global finals. It is a rigorous, hands-on experience that provides valuable training to the next generation of professionals.

The society functions only through the generous and voluntary contributions of people passionate about seeing the investment profession and financial services in The Bahamas flourish. A trustworthy, fruitful and lasting financial industry requires the continued and collaborative efforts of industry participants and key stakeholders. Getting involved is a form of industry leadership, and industry leadership matters.

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