Finance Program Recognized for Gold Standard Curriculum

RIC Professor of Finance Abbas Kazemi.

RIC Professor of Finance Abbas Kazemi.


In the world of finance and investing, certification as a charterholder from the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Institute is considered the gold standard. Rhode Island College is among 147 institutions in the nation and one of only three in Southeastern New England to achieve membership in the institute’s rigorous University Recognition Program, which prepares students to attain charterholder status. The other schools are Providence College and Stonehill College.

CFA Institute recognition means that RIC’s economics and finance bachelor’s degree covers at least 70 percent of the CFA’s “Candidate Body of Knowledge,’’ the CFA Institute ethical and professional standards, and other requirements. The RIC curriculum also includes material for candidates to pass the first of three levels of exams required to become a CFA charterholder.

“What makes our program unique is that very few schools, particularly at the undergraduate level, provide this type of opportunity,’’ said Abbas Kazemi, RIC Professor of Finance and one of only five CFA charterholders in Southeastern New England. “When you go to a school like Boston University, the master’s program there basically prepares you to take the CFA exam. Our program is attractive because it’s doing the same thing at the undergraduate level.’’

CFA charterholders are poised to hold top jobs as portfolio managers, research analysts and financial advisers at companies like Merrill Edge, Wells Fargo and Fidelity.

RIC School of Management Dean Jeffrey Mello said the recognition is “exclusive and places RIC among very prestigious peers.’’

“We are fortunate to have four dedicated yet very humble faculty members in the finance program,’’ Mello added, noting that the recognition requires ongoing curriculum modifications to meet the evolving demands of financial markets and the global economy.

Fewer than one in five candidates who begin the CFA exam process successfully complete it to go on to become charterholders, according to CFA exam statistics.

Before students pursue courses affiliated with the CFA exam, Kazemi  advises them about inherent hurdles.

“Studying for the exam is a huge time commitment that requires a lot of discipline and passion,’’ he said. “We suggest that an undergraduate student should study a minimum of 400 hours before taking the first level of the CFA exam. It’s not for everyone; you must be determined.’’

Potential CFA charterholders are required to work at least three years in investment management before receiving the CFA charter. Nonetheless, Kazemi said even attempting to pursue the first level of the exam sends a clear signal to employers.

“When you go to a job interview and disclose that you’re studying to take the CFA exam, I believe that puts you head and shoulders above other candidates applying for the job,’’ Kazemi said.

In the future, Kazemi hopes to build more awareness about RIC’s CFA membership and extol the merits of pre-existing finance courses such as FIN 463: Student Managed Investment Fund, a class that gives six RIC senior students  “hands-on experience’’ managing a $100,000 portfolio.

“We want students to come in thinking about preparation for careers in the investment field,’’ Kazemi said. “If you’re really ambitious and want to do this, here’s the opportunity for you at Rhode Island College.’’