It may not have come with pomp and color, but cryptocurrencies are clearly making it to Wall Street. Or as Stephen Horan puts it, it might just have ‘officially arrived at Wall Street’, with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) institute introducing cryptocurrencies and blockchain topics to their accreditation exam.
The top financial analyst exam, which is notorious for being demanding on it’s participants, and is often referred to as ‘most brutal exam in the world’ has taken notice of ballooning digital currencies and blockchain technology.
Beginning next year, professionals who wish to be accredited in the charter have to complete exams on cryptocurrencies and blockchain in their level I and II curriculum. The charter program has three levels in its syllabus and has included emerging Fintech fields in its Investment management subject.
This comes amidst growing interest and a major shake up within the crypto-space in regards to regulations and institutional acceptance. Even with the current, not so impressive, crypto performance so far this year, the industry in general continues on an upward trajectory. This is evident in the assessment by CFA where survey participants and focus groups showed intrigue in the technology. To further lend it credit, Wall Street giants are also showing interest in joining the industry.
Heavy Weights on the Scene
In May, David Solomon, the Goldman Sachs’s Chief Operating Officer as well as President and heir, intimated at the intention by the market giant to move deeper into the cryptocurrency markets. He spoke of expansion into Bitcoin and futures. According to him, Goldman Sachs is looking at adapting to the changing dynamics in the financial industry. Although ‘cautiously’ exploring the possibilities with cryptos, the top American bank is keenly listening to its customers and walking with them through their ventures.
In a similar move, Venrock, a venture capital arm of the Rockefeller Foundation signed a partnership with the Brooklyn based Coinfund to invest in cryptocurrencies. These positive shifts towards embracing cryptocurrencies by world financial leaders, individually, and generally in association with Wall Street suggest that Cryptocurrency and Blockchain needs to be understood better to aid their development.
The 2017 Bitcoin boom has spurred-on several fields in a very short time span. As it is, Finance and crypto are so intertwined that one cannot speak of one without the other. There have been futures trading, custody funds as well as ETFs on the horizon, pulling institutional investors into the scene.
‘The field is advancing fast and is durable.’ The Managing Director for General education and Curriculum at CFA’s Charlottesville, Virginia institute commented.
The crypto industry as it is operates in a legal gray zone; there are worries about market manipulation and money laundering as well as fraud in digital asset trading as well as Initial Coin Offerings. Blockchain has yet to prove its cutting edge tech in real world impact and cryptocurrency prices continue to feel depressed. However, in the face of all these, observers are very optimistic about the rapidly maturing industry.
The introduction of crypto and blockchain exams by CFA is a major plus for the rising field. As a powerful actor in the financial industry, CFA’s recent move lends cryptocurrencies the legitimacy they badly need. With a heavy focus on ethics in its programs, the institute will also test the subjects on their Professional Ethics topics. This will help address the conspicuously missing ethics to be found in some areas of the crypto-sphere.
The institute founded in 1963 boasts of having trained 150,000 financial professionals who are charter-holders forming the world’s largest association in the financial profession. In 2017, 227031 candidates from over 91 countries registered for the prestigious exams and sat them in June. The majority of the registrations came from Asia, the leading continent in crypto adoption. Alongside cryptos and blockchain, the other Fintech subjects getting the nod are; Machine Learning, AI, Big Data and Automated Trading.
CFA is not alone in this quest. Earlier in February, Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association (CAIA) announced the launch of its Chartered Alternative Data Analyst (CADA). The initiative centers on fostering education on digitization and Fintech, exploring how their increase will affect the financial industry. Similarly Digital Currency Council developed an accreditation program for professionals specializing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.