Investment Management Consultants Association

Advancing member certification with online learning

Overview

The Investment Management Consultants Association® (IMCA) sets the standards and practices for the investment management consulting profession, providing investment consultants and wealth managers with the credentials and tools required to best serve their clients. The organization’s mandate includes the delivery of world-class educational offerings through membership, conferences, research, and publications. This educational programming includes a wide range of study resources and test preparation to help candidates along their path toward Certified Investment Management Analyst® Certification (CIMA), Certified Personal Wealth Advisor® Certification (CPWA) and continuing education programs.

As learning continues to evolve in ways that reflect the way we live, organizations such as governments, businesses, and professional associations are now turning to e-learning methods to deliver educational content online and support distance learning. A sophisticated learning platform combined with e-learning methods can help a professional association attract new members to the organization, efficiently and cost-effectively meet the learning and certification requirements of members, and accelerate a member’s path to achieving professional certification.

Challenge

Skyrocketing Costs of Traditional Programming

In the past, IMCA leaned heavily on “live” learning delivery methods—such as conferences—coupled with continuing education broadcasts. The organization encountered several challenges with these more traditional forms of delivery. First and foremost, conferences are costly. Second, a week out of the office was often inconvenient for busy investment and wealth managers. Members demanded a more flexible, self-directed learning experience.

While conferences will always be an important part of IMCA’s education strategy, the organization’s goal is to eventually offer an equal amount of educational opportunities online using the Brightspace platform.

Solution

Progressive Approach Improves Member Engagement

In 2010, IMCA embarked on a new e-learning program to provide its members and prospective members with broader access to preparatory programming for the CIMA and CPWA certification process.

“We are a membership and accrediting body where people can build their professional knowledge and earn CIMA and CPWA certification. We recognized that we needed a better way to support members going through those certifications,” explains Jamie Lewis, Education and Product Development Manager for IMCA. “CIMA certification is governed by accreditation rules and regulations beyond our control. So, while the certification team can give suggestions and recommendations on what knowledge is required, our members really need more education to help them prepare for this really tough test. IMCA saw an opportunity to create this educational programming as a value-added service for our membership.”

Quickly Adapting to a Changing Investment Management Landscape

“The landscape is perpetually changing and our course content must adapt accordingly,” says Lewis, who is also IMCA’s Brightspace administrator and is responsible for the organization’s educational delivery strategy.

“For instance, literally every year tax regulations change and we need to change with them. It’s a bit like doing aircraft maintenance when the plane is in flight. One of the things I love most about the Brightspace platform is its flexibility. It is incredibly nimble. We can go into the system and alter content on the fly to keep our members on track for their certification.”

The Right Information at the Right Time Keeps Professional Development on Track

IMCA is currently focused on building out its content to leverage the features of the Brightspace platform while also adapting the online learning and development solution to the organization’s unique needs.

“We don’t do lecture capture in the traditional way an educational institution would. But we do use Brightspace Capture™ to deliver video-based content to our members. We can easily load all of our Fundamentals videos using the functionality of the Brightspace platform and quickly add them to course material,” says Lewis.

“Video-based content delivered through Brightspace has also provided the IMCA team with a workaround for a technical issue facing some members. Many of our clients within large financial services firms have firewall issues and are prevented from viewing video-based content online. This gets in the way of their learning and professional development goals. And yet, we’ve found many more can successfully access videos stored in the platform via Brightspace Capture,” says Lewis.

Similarly, the IMCA team has implemented an “ask the expert” feature in Brightspace using the platform’s online discussion feature. An outside consultant monitors the discussion board and answers members’ content-related questions within forty-eight hours. “It’s just one more way we’re molding Brightspace to fit the unique needs of our association,” says Lewis. “We don’t have a facilitator guiding members, and members are cycling in and out of the educational content we provide. But, nevertheless, we’re interacting with our members and fielding their questions as they arise.”

Result

Approximately 800 members are actively using the Candidate Resource Center for CIMA certification prep. Another 180 are using Brightspace to prepare for their CPW designation. Access to the Resource Centre is complimentary for members. Non-members can participate in the Fundamentals of Alternative Investments program or the Essentials of Investment Consulting program for about one-third of the cost of IMCA’s traditional conference-based education programs.

In addition to strong adoption of e-learning within its membership, IMCA is also realizing significant benefit from Brightspace at the Association level.

“Our Fundamentals of Alternative Investment course often attracts non-members as it is a hot topic in the industry.  We have about 400 people in the course right now, and one-third of them are non-members. In other words, we’re finding our e-learning offering has become a prospecting tool for our organization. That’s kind of a cool, unexpected side effect.” Jamie Lewis Education and Product Development Manager IMCA

IMCA’s e-learning strategy, delivered through Brightspace, has allowed the organization to affordably reach its members, and extend its offerings beyond traditional, expensive education delivery methods, such as conferences.