November 6, 2012

RIIA Names Peng Chen Academic Director of Retirement Management Analyst Curriculum

Longtime Morningstar executive recently left to head Dimensional Fund Asia and Dimensional Fund Retirement

The Retirement Income Industry Association announced on Tuesday that Peng Chen, CEO of Dimensional Fund Advisors, Asia, has been named academic curriculum director of the RIIA’s Retirement Management Analyst (RMA) advanced education program.

According to Francois Gadenne, executive director and chairman of the organization, Chen "will oversee and review the academic and scholarly direction of the evolving RMA curriculum, as well as edit and review submissions of annual updates to the RMA textbook and Retirement Income Body of Knowledge, which are the foundation of the RMA program of study.”

Peng ChenChen (left), a longtime Morningstar and Ibbotson executive, surprised industry watchers in May when he announced his departure from the Chicago-based research and investment firm.

The reason given at the time by Morningstar chairman and CEO Joe Mansueto was that Chen was moving to Asia to be closer to his family.

He surfaced some months later at Dimensional Fund Advisors, the firm famous for its strict adherence to a passive investment philosophy, driven by numerous Nobel Prize winners and academics that sit on its advisory board. In addition to his role as CEO of the firm’s Asia business (ex-Japan), Chen is also chairman of Dimensional SmartNest (Dimensional Retirement), which coincides with his work with RIIA.

“Peng's really good,” Gadenne told AdvisorOne. “The more time I spend with him the more I realize it. He has extensive experience in writing content for the CFA Institute, and he'll take that experience and use it here."

When asked whether associating with well-known indusrty personalities like Chen helps the RMA designation with marketing, as well as avoiding the "alphabet soup" so many designations ecounter, Gandenne said it's not something he worries about.

"Our focus is on the substance and academic rigor," he replied. "If you focus on the substance, we're confident the marketing will take care of itself."

According to RIIA, the RMA designation is a “retirement planning education and certification serving the financial services industry including defined contribution and retail distribution organizations, financial advisors, broker-dealers, banks and insurance companies.

Individuals earning the RMA designation are "uniquely prepared to deliver retirement income solutions and services to clients who want a secure income stream and ongoing professional management throughout their retirement years,” RIIA says.

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