CFA Institute aims to restore trust in financial industry

NEW YORK: The CFA Institute, a nonprofit made up of investment professionals, is working to rebuild trust in the financial services industry with a long-term communications program targeting members, investors, and the general public.

NEW YORK: The CFA Institute, a nonprofit made up of investment professionals, is working to rebuild trust in the financial services industry with a long-term communications program targeting members, investors, and the general public.

In the portion of the campaign targeting financial professionals, the Future of Finance project will provide tools and resources to promote a higher standard of ethics and tackle issues within the financial industry. Its messages will be a “lead component” of the organization's global communications and marketing efforts throughout its next fiscal year, said CFA Institute CMO Joe Clift.

“There's a crisis of confidence among investors in the world of finance,” said CFA Institute PR director JD McCartney. “We have failed the very people we're expected to serve.”

According to Edelman's 2013 Trust Barometer, financial services remained the least trusted sector globally, with fewer than half (46%) of respondents identifying it as a “truster.”

The CFA Institute's effort is calling for reform in six areas: putting investors first, safeguarding the system, retirement security, financial knowledge, regulation and enforcement, and transparency and fairness. The organization released a set of guidelines entitled the Statement of Investor Rights to address the first area, as well as Principles of Investment Reporting to cover transparency and fairness. The institute will release at least four additional items covering the other topics, McCartney said.

“This is just the beginning. We're exploring ways to create a social movement,” he added.

An advisory council chaired by economist and author John Kay is leading the project. The council also includes experts from the finance, education, and media sectors.

Central to the program is an online hub gathering relevant news, information, and educational resources for investment professionals. The institute also plans to launch moderated discussions and forums on the site, McCartney said.

CFA Institute is engaging audiences on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #futurefinance. It is also producing videos, writing bylined articles, scheduling speaking engagements at industry conferences, and reaching out to financial and general business press.

The organization has provided its local chapters around the world with PR packages, including details such as press contacts and sample tweets.

“First and foremost, our target is our members. We want to make sure our members our ambassadors for building a more trustworthy industry. They're the ones to take this message out regionally and locally,” McCartney explained. “Beyond that, we want to reach the broader investment profession and finance industry. Eventually we want the public to understand there are really good people and organizations in the finance industry committed to making sure we make a difference.”

FleishmanHillard is the lead PR agency on the campaign. Sister Omnicom Group agency Doremus handled the advertising portion, including print and outdoor ads.

Clift joined CFA Institute in March as the organization's first CMO.

“It's a signal on a global scale that CFA Institute wants to take its voice and agenda much more clearly to the marketplace,” Clift said.

CFA Institute is an association of investment professionals with more than 117,000 members in 137 countries.

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