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AMHERST, Mass. (HedgeWorld.com)–In addition to earning a CFA designation, those active in the hedge fund industry now may want to consider becoming CAIA certified, a new professional charter specific to the alternative investment industry.

The Alternative Investment Management Association and the Center for International Securities and Derivatives Markets sponsor the program that is administered out of CISDM’s offices in Amherst, Mass. The first exam will be given in January and study materials are now available.

So far a lot of interest has come from Europe and from the sales side of the industry, said Richard B. Spurgin, who is an associate professor of finance at Clark University and active in the CISDM. Initially, 25 to 50 individuals have made commitments to complete the program.

Like the CFA designation, CAIA also has three exams. Level I requires an understanding of fundamental concepts of finance, economics and accounting as they relate to investment markets. Those who already have completed the CFA program may skip Level I.

Level II of the program includes instruction on trading strategies, legal and economic aspects of alternative investment management, liquidity and transparency, and due diligence. Then portfolio theory, manager selection and oversight make up most of Level III of the CAIA charter program.

Once a CAIA designation is earned, a candidate is required to become a member of the CAIA Association, taking on a role similar to AIMR (Association for Investment Management and Research) but for the alternative investment industry. The new trade association will promote a high level of ethics and professionalism and the CAIA designation. The group will also encourage contact and communication among alternative investment professionals and establish an ongoing series of educational events.

Registration for the 2003 exams starts on Sept. 1 and will be available online at www.caiaonline.org.