History of CFA Institute
Early Investment Societies Are Birthplace of CFA Institute
The genesis of CFA Institute goes back to 1925 with the founding of the Investment Analyst Society of Chicago. Analysts formed the Chicago Society to promote investment education and professionalism and to provide forums for discourse with corporate financial managers. In 1937, the New York Society of Security Analysts (NYSSA) was established with Benjamin Graham among its founding members. In 1945, the NYSSA began publishing The Analysts Journal, which was eventually renamed the Financial Analysts Journal® (FAJ).
By 1947, analyst societies had formed in several other cities. In that year, several societies merged to create the National Federation of Financial Analysts Societies (NFFAS), a confederation of four founding member societies—New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia. As new societies took shape in other cities, they quickly joined the NFFAS. In 1954, the NYSSA transferred the FAJ to the NFFAS as its flagship publication. By the late 1950s, the NFFAS consisted of more than 20 member societies that were increasingly concerned with professionalism, standards, and ethics for the nascent profession.
Evolution of the CFA Designation
As early as 1942, Benjamin Graham had proposed to the NYSSA the need for a rating designation for analysts. However, it was not until 1959 that the NFFAS board voted to form the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts (ICFA) to provide a certification of competence. The new ICFA was formally incorporated in 1961 and gave the first certification examination on 15 June 1963. The ICFA established a full set of three examination levels in 1964 and adopted a required Code of Ethics in 1964 as well.
In the meantime, the NFFAS had changed its name to the Financial Analyst Federation (FAF) and began an increasingly sophisticated program of educational and training programs in cooperation with its member societies. Before long, the ICFA was also promoting conferences, publishing books, and engaging in educational endeavors as well.
Like-Minded Organizations Combine
Despite their common goals, the two organizations (the ICFA and the FAF) were organized differently and had different memberships. The ICFA was run by its membership, which was restricted to those individuals who held the CFA designation. The FAF, however, was a federation of societies, most of whose members held the CFA charter, although a substantial number of whom did not. Furthermore, the FAF was controlled by its constituent societies, not directly by individual members.
Nevertheless, the ICFA and the FAF worked closely together to improve the profession. By 1973, this cooperative effort brought forth proposals for some kind of merger to strengthen their work. But it was not until 1990 that the first step toward a merger was taken, with the formation of the Association for Investment Management and Research® (AIMR®). AIMR was the parent organization to a group comprising both the ICFA and the FAF, each of which continued to operate with separate boards and missions. The second step toward a merger occurred when the FAF moved its headquarters to share space with the ICFA and AIMR.
Finally, in May 1999, the ICFA and the FAF were merged under AIMR, and the ICFA and the FAF ceased to exist as separate entities. In May of 2004, the membership overwhelmingly approved to change the name to CFA Institute to align the organization with its core identity and to strengthen brand recognition.