Major changes are coming to the CIMA certification process, the Investments & Wealth Institute announced at the 2018 Investment Advisor Forum in New York City.

The new exam, which will be available starting in August, will include a section on real assets, additional emphasis on passive investment vehicles and strategies, and a new topic area on impact investing, including analysis and portfolio construction related to environmental, social and governance factors.

“The revisions make it more relevant to today's practitioner,” CEO Sean Walters told conference attendees.

The changes follow the industry group’s latest survey of 2,050 investment advisors and consultants conducted between August and September 2017. The resulting report, “Defining the Future of Investment Advice: Industry Dynamics & CIMA Job Analysis Study,” showed 92% of advisors rated knowledge of passive investment vehicles as important to the profession, and 72% rated knowledge of responsible investing as an important skill set to have.

Based on the findings, the institute revised, consolidated and simplified the CIMA Core Body of Knowledge into five knowledge domains covering 22 knowledge sections that planners and consultants with a minimum of three years’ experience must know.

“If you earned CIMA more than 10 years ago, then it's night and day when it comes to behavioral finance [components],” Walters says.

Walters highlighted the three key aspects of CIMA: quality certification, high-quality partner schools and relevance to the client-advisor relationship.

“If you earned CIMA more than 10 years ago, then it's night and day when it comes to behavioral finance [components],” says Investments & Wealth Institute CEO Sean Walters.

Schools offering the CIMA program will begin teaching the revised curriculum on June 1, 2018, and the exam will be available at Pearson Vue testing centers starting in August.

The institute last revised the CIMA exam in 2013. The most recent updates also build on other changes the Institute unveiled last year, including rebranding the organization and acquiring Retirement Management Advisor Designation.

The institute, founded as IMCA in 1985, has been offering the CIMA certification as an advanced training for advisors since 1988, according to the organization.