Dr. Ashvin P. Vibhakar, CFA, joined CFA Institute on September 1, 2007. Based in Hong Kong, Dr. Vibhakar is responsible for developing and implementing various operating strategies in the Asia Pacific region, including society relations, employer and university outreach, candidate recruitment and support, and member services. He received his Ph.D. in Finance from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, his MBA from Central Missouri State University, and his Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from M.S. University of Baroda, India.
Thank you Dr. Vibhakar for speaking to us.
DaulatGuru.com is a forum for finance students and professionals in India. There are many Indian students who are preparing for various levels of the CFA exam. We are trying to connect these students with the CFA Institute and ask you a couple of questions on their behalf.
Iâ€™ll be glad to answer the questions. I just wanted to congratulate you and applaud you for the effort that you are making in advancing the investment profession in India. I have looked at the DaulatGuru.com website and itâ€™s a great concept. So, thank you very much.
Thanks a lot. CFA Institute focuses a lot on ethics. The financial crisis of 2008 saw a number of unethical behaviors. How has CFA Institute reacted to enforce ethical behavior among investment professionals?
I appreciate that you are asking this question. For CFA Institute, ethics is the foundation of everything we do. When you examine our mission statement, it starts with ethics as our number one priority. We strongly believe that without ethical behavior, we cannot have trust in the market. In our Code of Ethics, we state our belief that our members should always put the interest of the client and the integrity of the profession above their own personal interest. I think that with this principle, individuals succeed in the long term. You are successful when your clients are successful. So, ethical behavior is critical.
We require our members to sign, on an annual basis, a Professional Conduct Statement that they will abide by. We also require our candidates to sign a Candidate Responsibility Statement.
In the last couple of years, have you taken any action against people who are violating the Code of Ethics?
CFA Institute has a Professional Conduct Program and a committee made up of practitioners called the Disciplinary Review Committee. It is a responsibility of our members to bring to the attention of this committee any violations on the part of CFA charterholders. In addition to that, we also monitor any news or information that we see and we do aggressively enforce our code of conduct up to the extent that we can revoke the charter.
Please find the link below: http://www.cfainstitute.org/aboutus/conduct
There was not much growth in investment-related jobs in 2009. Has that impacted the number of students registering for the CFA Program?
In fiscal year 2009, we had about 200,000 candidate registrations for December 2008 and June 2009 exams in around 160 countries and territories. We had around 256 test centers around the world. Nearly 40 percent of the candidates came from Asia-Pacific. There has been a negative impact coming from some companies not supporting individuals to take the exam during the crisis. But on the other hand, there is a positive impact because candidates are trying to become more competitive. So, when we look at the results, we find that for many countries like India and China, our numbers have gone up. However we have countries like Hong Kong and Singapore where our numbers have gone down. In aggregate we do not expect registrations to change significantly.
Are you seeing a growth in the number of students registering from India?
Yes, definitely. We anticipate this yearâ€™s number to be higher than last year.
The financial crisis saw a lot of irresponsible use of derivatives and complex products like CDOs etc. How will the CFA Program change its course content to focus more on risk management?
The CFA Program curriculum is called the Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK), and it is grounded on what we call â€œpractice analysisâ€. We make sure that our curriculum remains relevant at all times and we do that through extensive survey and focus groups of all practicing CFA charterholders and investment professionals around the world. Just in early February 2010, we had a focus group for practice analysis in Korea and we will conduct similar focus groups worldwide. We ask CFA charterholders and investment professionals what knowledge and skill sets they consider â€œrelevantâ€ for new charterholders.
Our curriculum changes over time. I took my last exam in 1987, and I find that the curriculum today is substantially different. From that perspective, â€œrisk managementâ€ and â€œrisk analysisâ€ are integral components of the CFA Program curriculum today. The CBOK is determined by practicing professionals all over the world and remains relevant at all times.
The Delhi High Court has given provisional permission to register candidates for the CFA exam in India on 6th June 2010. However there seems to be a risk of the reversal of this decision. What would you advise students from India?
First of all, we are glad that the Delhi High Court has given us provisional permission to open test centers in India. We have test centers in Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. So, there are 5 test centers that we have opened up for the June 2010 exam. We hope that there will not be any reversal, but in the event that it does occur, we are very sensitive to make sure that our candidates are treated equitably and fairly. We have given several options to the Indian candidates. One of their options will be to receive a complete refund of their program fees that they had paid. As a result they have no financial risk.
We do recognize that everyone who enrolls in the CFA Program is there because he or she wants to become a CFA charterholder. Indian candidates are very determined. They are a tenacious group of people, and as a member of Indian origin, I am extremely proud of our Indian candidates. We are also offering them the ability to defer their registration to a future date outside of India. But with regard to going outside India, we are cautioning them and making them understand that we have limited seats available. We are also seeing that there are many candidates who are registering for test centers outside India just because they donâ€™t want to accept the risk of reversal. You can see our message to them on our website at cfainstitute.org/india.