NEW YORK – IMCA is aiming to broaden the appeal of its CIMA education program by offering the program online and at a cheaper price.

The association announced that it had partnered with the MIT Sloan School of Management to create the online program, which can lead to CIMA certification.

The online program, which is one of five steps leading to certification, is priced at $3,995 and opens June 1.

"This is the lowest [price point] we've ever had," IMCA's Chair John Nersesian said. "A candidate can get through this thing for less than $5,000."

Nersesian said that IMCA decided to create the online program because of increasing demand from advisors, especially younger ones, for a more convenient and accessible program. The convenience and lower price point should also appeal to independent advisors, who may not have the support of a large firm behind them he said.

More than one-third of new applications last year came from independent advisors, said Nersesian. He also noted that IMCA had done more advertising and outreach to independent advisors, and that those efforts were paying off.

Currently, 41% of IMCA advisor members work at a wirehouse while 29% are independent advisors. IMCA has more than 10,000 members who collectively manage about $2.5 trillion in assets.

Advisors who enroll in the program will take 40 hours of online courses, quizzes and an exam within 60 days of successfully completing the course. Students have up to two months to complete the coursework. "That's probably a good thing, as it motivates them to get it done," Nersesian said.

Three other U.S.-based universities offer the education component: Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

"MIT is known for being innovative in all we do, and this program continues that tradition," said Rob Dietel, director of executive programs at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Dietel said that program is scalable and that MIT can update based on student feedback.

Andrew Lo, an MIT professor who has presented at IMCA conferences, will serve as the program's faculty advisor.

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