Professional Designations

What is a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)?

By  Brian Thorp

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The Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) is for financial professionals who would like to stand out as advanced investment consultants. Issued by the Investments and Wealth Institute, it focuses on topics such as risk measurement, asset allocation, due diligence and investment policy.

Let’s take a closer look at what this designation is, what it takes to earn it, and how you may benefit from working with a CIMA. 

What is a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)?

CIMA holders have completed an education program at a top-tier business institution such as the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and Yale School of Management. 

They’ve become experts in a variety of advanced investment and portfolio management areas including investments, risk and return, portfolio theory, behavioral finance and portfolio construction. In most cases, it takes anywhere between 9 to 12 months for financial professionals to earn the CIMA designation as they must meet rigorous education, experience and exam guidelines. 

Fewer than four out of the ten candidates who begin the program actually complete it and earn the CIMA. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the CIMA is among the most highly valued financial certifications in wealth management.

CIMAs often pursue careers with financial consulting firms where they manage large accounts and interact very closely with clients. Their designation allows them to enhance their practice and provide a superior experience for their clients.

Should You Hire a CIMA?

A CIMA has the advanced investment expertise and depth of financial knowledge that may help you if you:

  • Are a High Net-Worth Individual: As an individual with a high net-worth, you want to ensure your finances are in the hands of an advisor who has met rigorous certification standards and abides by a code of ethic. A CIMA may provide you with the high quality investment advice you need to meet (or even exceed) your goals. 
  • Would Like Expert Support with Portfolio Management: You can trust a CIMA to construct and manage a portfolio on your behalf. With their expertise, you may be able to achieve great outcomes that you may not be able to on your own. A CIMA may be the key to a higher quality investment portfolio. 
  • Have Complex Financial Challenges: If your financial situation is complex because you own a business, have undergone a major life milestone like a divorce or inheritance or have accumulated significant wealth, a CIMA can guide you through it. They have the specialized knowledge that an ordinary financial advisor may lack. 

When you decide to work with a CIMA, you’ll benefit from the advice of someone who has committed to advancing their knowledge as an advanced investment consultant or advisor. They are highly competent and genuinely care about helping you make the best out of your financial situation. A CIMA truly sets a new standard for investment advice.

What Does it Take to Earn and Maintain the CIMA?

Those who hope to earn a CIMA designation must fulfill certain requirements. Here’s a brief overview of what that they are:

CIMA Education Requirements

To sit for the CIMA designation, financial professionals must complete an executive education program at one of these two to four day programs by the Investments and Wealth Institute.

  • University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Yale School of Management

Before they do so, however, they are required to pass an initial background check. 

CIMA Experience Requirements

Financial professionals with a minimum of three years of relevant professional experience may take the CIMA. They must also hold a clean regulatory record. 


Once CIMA candidates have completed the educational and experience requirements, they are eligible to sit for the exam. It’s administered at Pearson VUE testing centers throughout the year and consists of 140 multiple choice questions on the following topics: 

  • Business, Economic, Governance, and Statistical Fundamentals
  • Portfolio Performance and Risk Measurement
  • Traditional and Alternative Investments
  • Portfolio Theory and Behavioral Finance
  • Investment Consulting Process

After they pass the exam, they’ll be required to pass a second background check, complete the license agreement, and pay the certification fee. 

CIMA Continuing Education Requirements

Once a financial professional passes the CIMA charter, they must continue their education to maintain it. CIMA holders are required to report 40 hours of continuing education credits, two of which relate to ethics, every two years. 

CIMA Code of Ethics 

CIMA holders must comply with the Institute Code of Professional Responsibility. It states that they will do the following:

  • Act in the best interest of their clients.
  • Reveal the services they will provide as well as how much they’ll cost.
  • Offer clients the information they need to make smart decisions. 
  • Respond to client inquiries and instructions promptly and truthfully.
  • Maintain high levels of ethical conduct. 

Those who fail to meet these ethics requirements or are found to have acted unethically will lose their designation. 

How To Find The Best Certified Investment Management Analyst For You

You’ll find a growing number of CIMA certified financial advisors featured on Wealthtender this year and you can also search the directory of CIMA credential holders on the Investments & Wealth Institute website.


How can I confirm the financial professional I’m working with holds the Certified Investment Management Analyst designation?

Visit the directory of CIMA credential holders on the Investments & Wealth Institute website.

What if I have a complaint about the Certified Investment Management Analyst I’m working with?

Visit this page on the Investments & Wealth Institute website for details about filing a complaint.

Where can I learn more about other professional designations held by financial advisors and coaches?

Refer to this list of popular financial certifications prepared by Wealthtender to help you learn more about each designation. You’ll find a brief description of each certification, plus links to in-depth articles if you want to learn more about a particular designation.

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About the Author
Brian Thorp, Founder and CEO of Wealthtender profile picture

About the Author

Brian Thorp

Brian is CEO and founder of Wealthtender. He and his wife live in Texas, enjoying the diversity of Houston and the vibrancy of Austin.

With over 25 years in the financial services industry, Brian is applying his experience and passion at Wealthtender to help more people enjoy life with less money stress.

Connect with Brian on LinkedIn

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.

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