IMCA executive director and CEO Sean Walters.

The Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA) announced Monday that it will offer an online education program through the MIT Sloan School of Management leading to its CIMA certification beginning June 1. The Sloan School joins three other leading business schools that are offering the in-person education component for CIMA certification: the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University (added in 2014); the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (added in 2012); and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Peter Hirst, executive director at MIT Sloan Executive Education, said in a statement that “By offering this program online, we are providing a much-needed solution to today’s time-constrained financial advisors and consultants, while still providing them with access to some of the brightest financial minds in the world.” Among those minds will be Sloan Professor Andrew Lo, who will serve as the new program’s faculty advisor.

In addition to his work on hedge funds and risk management, Lo is the director of  MIT’s  Laboratory for Financial Engineering (LFE), which is conducting a $1 million, three-year behavioral finance study on how best to create individual benchmarks for investors funded by, and using data from, Natixis Global Asset Management.

Sean Walters, executive director and CEO of IMCA, said in a statement that the agreement “increases access to high quality education for advisors seeking to distinguish their expertise in today’s global and highly sophisticated marketplace.”

In a brief interview following Daniel Kahneman’s well-received behavioral finance speech at IMCA’s New York Consultants Conference on Tuesday, Walters said the MIT agreement will also have a very practical benefit for would-be CIMA holders: cost. With a price point for the educational component of CIMA preparation in the $5,000 range, he said the MIT agreement will make CIMA certification more affordable, especially for many independent advisors, who constitute a growing percentage of CIMA’s more than 10,000 individual members.

According to IMCA, CIMA candidates in the MIT Sloan program must complete 40 hours of online work and pass section quizzes and an exam within a 60-day window to successfully complete the course.

IMCA’s CIMA, first offered in 1988, was the first financial services certification to gain accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 2011, thus meeting the International Standards Organization global standard (ISO 17024) for personnel certification.

IMCA also sponsors the Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA) certification for advisors working with high-net-worth clients.