Financial Advisor talks to Evelyn Brust, executive director of the Investment Management Consultants Association, about its new educational program. Writer Allen Plummer interviewed her.

Plummer: Evelyn, would you tell us about IMCA's new Wealth Management Certificate course?

Brust: We only have one certification, and that's the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) designation. The IMCA board made the decision to offer only one certification, thereby eliminating much of the confusion for investors. However, we have many very extensive, high-level "certificate courses," including the new Wealth Management Certificate course.

We realized with the current affluent demographics that there was a huge need for extensive quality education on wealth management. We knew a void existed, and to fill that void we began working with accountants and university professors to develop this course over a five-year period. The course is divided into three sections that mirror the natural life cycle of wealth-the first of which is wealth accumulation, which includes accommodation plans, stock appreciation rights and other tools for executive wealth accumulation. The second level is wealth preservation and protection, which includes tax planning, charitable giving, risk management. Here we focus on executives, professionals and business owners. Level three is wealth distribution, and this zeros in on the issues of intergenerational wealth transfer such as estate planning, gifting strategies, charitable vehicles, private foundations, donor advice funds, closely held businesses-very in depth. It is complex, especially when you consider that this area keeps changing. We had one section done and had to totally rewrite it because of the new tax law.

The students will study a great deal on their own, taking three different qualifying exams at the end of each segment. Then they will participate in an extensive classroom session led by professors and tax specialists. The students will take everything they've learned and learn how to apply it through case studies.

We launched December 1, and our first classroom session will be held April 26. The exams will be online. The students will have the books, plus an entire reference library, which we will send to them. They will take an online exam, which includes several hundred questions. We have a staff member with a PhD in education who is extremely knowledgeable in online education. The classroom sessions will be held at different locations, depending on where IMCA's conference is. The first will be in Scottsdale, the next one will be in Dallas.

Plummer: Once an individual receives the certificate, will he or she be required to take update classes or a refresher course?

Brust: Our members will receive ongoing education through our publications and at breakout sessions during all seven IMCA conferences.

The Wealth Management Certificate Program takes 18 months to complete. For more information about fees, course content, schedules and how to apply for the program, call IMCA at (303) 770-3377 or visit their web site at