First it was the CPA certification for accountants, instituted in 1917.
Then in 1963 came the CFA credential, administered by the CFA Institute, for finance and investment professionals, particularly in the fields of investment management and financial analysis of stocks, bonds and their derivative assets.
One year later, in 1964, the Public Relations Society of America, www.prsa.org, launched the APR designation as a way to recognize PR practitioners who have mastered the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to develop and deliver strategic communications.
Soon, investor relations professionals, courtesy of the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI), www.niri.org, will have a test of their own. The designation has yet to be named, but development of the Body of Knowledge (BOK) is now underway, and the inaugural exam is scheduled for mid-2015.
The BOK is the basis for most certification exams, including the CFA. It forms the base of teachings, skills, and research in a given function, along with details on the essential competencies required of a practitioner based on a set number of years of experience.
It is with great honor that I am serving as an advisor to the NIRI committee preparing the first BOK for the investor relations profession. I will be working directly with editor Ted Allen and a distinguished group of 25 investor relations professionals from throughout the nation who will write the definitive book—one that will represent every element of the requisite knowledge that will be tested in the IR certification exam.
It’s a big project and a tall order, especially for a profession whose practitioners require a wide range of knowledge, spanning disciplines that include finance, accounting, capital markets, news media, disclosure regulations, public relations practices and virtually all aspects of communications.
Canada and the UK currently have IR certification programs, and two U.S. universities—Fordham and the University of San Francisco—offer graduate degrees in investor relations.
While validation of competency through an exam or graduate degree may not guarantee practical success, we at PondelWilkinson are proud to have been asked to participate in this milestone endeavor for our industry. I’ll keep you posted as the program develops, but please do not ask me for any answers to the exam—none of the BOK committee members will have access to it!
Roger Pondel, firstname.lastname@example.org