The Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) certification program is being opened up to more advisors, but will also be a bit tougher to complete.

These were among several changes announced by the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA), which says it is attempting to elevate standards, make the CIMA certification more accessible and better align the program with third-party certification standards.

Most of the changes will go into effect July 1, according to IMCA.

Under the plan, eligibility will be broadened to allow anyone with three years experience in the financial services industry to apply for the certification. The program is currently limited to those with three years experience as investment management consultants.

The intent of the change is to allow financial planners, wealth managers and other professionals to enter the program, IMCA spokesman Beau Ballinger said.

"This will open it up to people who want more expertise in investments but who haven't worked as an investment manager," he said.

New applicants will also face a tougher road to certification. Starting July 1, new applicants will have to pass an IMCA certification exam after completing six months of self-study and one-week programs at either the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, or the Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley. Applicants currently get their certification after completing the self-study and the university programs.

"The standards have always been pretty high, but this is elevating it more so," Ballinger said.

Among the other changes, CIMA designees will no longer be required to obtain CE credits through IMCA. They will also have to complete an application with their two-year renewals that, among other things, includes a disclosure statement. Designees will continue to be responsible for completing 40 hours of CE credit every two years to maintain their certificate.

The $6,600 application fee will be unbundled as part of the changes and replaced with a pay-as-you-go fee schedule, Ballinger said.

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