Jan. 10, 2001 Merger talks between the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA) and the Institute for Certified Investment Management Consultants (ICIMC) have been temporarily suspended. However, officials from both organizations say they hope to resume the discussion and reach a deal this year.

Talks this past summer "just petered out," says Chris Davis, executive director of the ICIMC in Washington, D.C. "There was some concern over how the organizations’ education and certification programs would mesh.

"Evelyn Brust, executive director of Denver-based IMCA, says the major hang-up was what to do with designation trademarks. IMCA’s Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) mark "is an accepted and nationally recognized industry designation," Brust says. "It is hard to get, and it would not be fair to our members to lose it. Our counsel advised us that members could sue the board if we lost that designation."Davis says the groups also differ over finances. The IMCA has a reserve fund, while the ICIMC operates at break-even, he says.

Jeff Barefoot, president of the ICIMC, while not commenting on a possible merger, says the financial services industry needs a more recognized designation to address growing competition from other professionals like CPAs and lawyers.

The organizations provide virtually identical services to an overlapping membership, Davis says. The ICIMC (www.icimc.org) has nearly 1,100 members and offers home study courses and a five-day investment management-consulting course at George Washington University.

The IMCA (www.imca.org) , with close to 2,500 members, offers a graduate-level certified investment management course at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and conducts eight conferences throughout the year.

Both groups also monitor legislation and regulations affecting the investment industry.

"Clearly, there would be more benefit if we could all come together," Davis says. -- Tom Nelson

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