‘A Difference That Matters’: 5 Questions With CFA Institute CMO Joe Clift


CFA Institute

CFA Institute—the largest not-for-profit global association of investment professionals with more than 130,000 members—has launched a new global brand campaign, “A Difference That Matters.”

Notable for targeting a breadth of groups under a singular campaign slogan, the creative features actual CFA charter-holders explaining how they provide value and advice for their clients.

CFA InstituteWith trust in today’s financial services sector low, the CFA’s campaign is about creating awareness of what the Institute has to offer as well as encouraging investment firms and investors to demand professionals with the highest levels of competence and standards.

brandchannel asked Joe Clift, CMO of CFA Institute, about the new campaign.

brandchannel: Why is now the time right for the new brand campaign?

CFA Institute Joe Clift

Joe Clift: Following the appointment of Paul Smith as President and CEO of CFA Institute in January 2015, our leadership team refined our strategy to focus more explicitly on establishing an acknowledged investment management profession. This campaign brings to life the professionalism exhibited by all CFA charter-holder practitioners, by dramatizing the difference that holding our credential can make to industry practice.

Why now? While levels of trust have improved since the 2008 crisis, investment managers still need to do more to establish a true public warranty in the eyes of their investing clients, whether these are institutions or private individuals seeking investment advice.

So, in banging the drum for professionalism, we want to influence employers to hire more CFA charter-holders and regulators to acknowledge the need for the highest possible standards in capital markets, as well as continue to grow our candidate and member bases.

bc: So what is the “difference that matters?”

Clift: The advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management skills demanded by the CFA Program, underpinned by its strong ethical foundations, represent the standards of professionalism we want to propagate across the industry. We bring that to life in this campaign as “A Difference That Matters,” which distills the value-add CFA charter-holders bring to bear on their clients, their institutions, their communities and therefore to markets and society at large.

The CFA Institute administers the CFA exam, a rigorous three-part financial test considered the gold standard for investment professionals.

bc: What shifts in those taking the exam have you noticed in the past several years?

Clift: We continue to enjoy healthy growth in candidates for our programs globally, with particular success in Asia—China especially—and India in recent years. This provides the industry with a highly qualified pool of individuals who can help shape the future of the profession. As the global association of investment professionals, we see it as part of our role to drive demand from employers for credentialed individuals so that the whole financial ecosystem benefits from the higher standards we advocate.

bc:  What’s the biggest challenge in scaling CFA Institute goals and any notable changes/trends in the industry you’ve observed?

Clift: With an increasingly mobile work-force, we must continue to strike the right balance between having a common program globally—as befits a common global standard—while also providing learning and study tools that meet the needs of our digital-savvy candidates. Study tips approaching exam day, promoted to opted-in candidates via Twitter and Instagram, are examples of how we ensure we are in tune with our customers’ needs.

bc: How do you measure your ROI with campaigns like this one?

Clift: We track the underlying health of the CFA Institute brand and of the CFA Program brand every two to three years via a global brand tracker study. Of course, we supplement that with campaign-specific metrics, which evidence engagement levels with our campaign content. With the launch of the global campaign we have put in place a pre-/post-campaign tracker to assess specific, attributable changes in awareness driven by the paid/earned/owned activity in US, UK, India and China. This will also inform the future evolution of the campaign.

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