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CFA UK launches impact investing qualification

Published: 24 January 2024

After developing a pilot programme last year, the industry body hopes its new qualification will help close the knowledge gap and lead to a better understanding of impact investing.

The CFA UK’s new programme will focus on key aspects of impact investing including investment strategies and implementation and impact measurement and management | designer491 on iStock

The CFA Society of the UK (CFA UK) has launched a Certificate in Impact Investing, which it says is a first-of-its-kind qualification aimed at investment professionals seeking an introduction to impact investing. 

CFA UK is part of CFA Institute, a global, not-for-profit association for investment professionals.

The new certificate follows in the footsteps of a pilot exam programme on impact investing reported by Impact Investor at the end of last year. It also follows on from two certificates launched by CFA UK and CFA Institute, including the Certificate in Climate and Investing launched in March 2023 and the Certificate in ESG investing in March 2021.

Developed by an expert panel, the Certificate in Impact Investing is obtained through a self-study course covering a range of topics, including impact investment philosophy, strategy and implementation; asset classes and products in private and public markets; and impact selection, measurement, management, monitoring and reporting.

CFA UK said the structure of the course would ensure that all candidates developed a clear understanding of the shape and size of the market, as well as gained the skills needed to implement impact strategies, including how to develop theories of change and measurement frameworks. 

Co-chairs of the Certificate in Impact Investing panel, Rebecca Macdonald, managing director and head of investment management at Big Society Capital and Evita Chiang Zanuso, head of strategic partnerships for Katapult Foundation, made the distinction between impact investing, which they said sought to create real world positive outcomes for people, places and the planet, and ESG, which largely focuses on risk factors and performance.  

“Impact investments can take countless forms and come in many different shapes and sizes, but the framework that underpins impact investing remains consistent. As client demand for positive impact alongside financial return increases, investment professionals need to respond accordingly to understand the discipline, its application and the different ways it can be delivered,” they said.  

“It has been a privilege to work with a talented team of investment professionals to develop this qualification which we know will be a key milestone in the further development and growth of impact investing more generally,” they added.

Closing the knowledge gap

Speaking to Impact Investor, Jamie Innes, investment manager for UK-based impact wealth manager Tribe Impact Capital, who contributed to the development of the syllabus, said people’s understanding of impact investing had come a long way over the last decade, but that there was still work to be done.

Jamie Innes, Tribe Impact Capital

“Given the rapid rise of impact investing as a theme in public markets, there’s a lack of standardisation and agreement regarding how to generate long-term impact,” he said. 

Innes highlighted a study conducted by the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s independent financial regulatory body, which showed that 80% of consumers want their money to ‘do some good’ alongside providing a financial return.

“The same study revealed only 20% of investors are aware of sustainable investment options, creating a significant knowledge gap,” he said. “The certificate is a fantastic addition to the marketplace that will hopefully help to close this gap and lead to a greater understanding of impact investing. A qualification of this nature helps the sector mature and enables greater accountability and transparency between money managers and clients.”

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