SHAMSUL GHANI (shams_ghani@hotmail.com)
Feb 02 - 08, 2009

On January 27, 2009, IBA entered into yet another partnership agreement with CFA Institute, the global association for investment professionals that awards the prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst, CFA designation. The ceremony took place in the CEE room of IBA City campus and was attended, beside others, by the Dean and Director IBA, Dr. Ishrat Hussain; the CFA Managing Director, Asia Pacific Operations, Dr. Ashvin P. Vibhakar; Mr. Mohammad Shoaib, the founder president of CFA Association of Pakistan and the CFA gold medalist Mr. M. M. Ali.

A number of business schools throughout the country are offering under-graduate and post-graduate degree programs. Institute of Business Administration, IBA, the oldest business school outside North America, is busy since 1955 in producing quality business graduates that are highly in demand. Established under the USAID program, IBA got technical support first from the Wharton School of Finance, University of Pennsylvania and then from the University of Southern California. Besides setting up the required facilities at the institute, the Program also provided quality faculty assistance by assigning learned American teachers. IBA boasts of having produced more than 7,500 business graduates since its inception, who are lodged in prestigious positions in the business, corporate and financial sectors of domestic as well as international origins. Besides imparting business training, IBA has also included in its curriculum the IT sector which has fast emerged to nicely dovetail the business and industry sectors. IBA's partnership with Microsoft allows it to keep abreast with the modern trends in software as well as hardware thereby enabling it to design programs and courses for students undertaking computer studies. Agreement between IBA and the International Finance Corporation, IFC provides IBA students a chance to benefit from state-of-the-art teaching and training facilities in corporate governance.

Headquartered in the US, at Virginia, CFA Institute has presence in 134 countries with a membership of more than hundred thousand. It has 136 societies in 57 different countries. CFA is a gold standard designation, highly rated in the financial world. The program is divided in three parts namely level I, level II and level III. Any undergraduate can take up and complete level I simultaneously with his or her graduation program. Level I costs $990. CFA may finance deserving candidates up to $770. Levels II and III can be taken up only after the completion of graduation program. The award of charter requires at least 4-year acceptable work experience.

In Pakistan CFA is represented by the CFA Association of Pakistan, CFAAP, having its website www.membersocieties.org/pakistan. CFAAP's founder president Mr. Mohammad Shoaib has been elected CFA Institute's Presidents' Council Representative (PCR) for the Asia Pacific region for the term 2008-10. The Asia Pacific PCR will represent 15 CFA societies across 14 countries in the Asian and Australian continents. These countries are Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines and Thailand. CFAAP has undertaken several initiatives including:

* Hosting seminars, workshops, panel discussions on issues affecting the capital markets

* Conducting financial analyses and modeling workshops for analysts

* Organizing the Annual Excellence Awards for various financial services in Pakistan

* Lobbying with the regulators on various governing issues

* Arranging scholarships for deserving CFA candidates

* Conducting exam-study preparatory classes for CFA students

CFAAP conducted, on January 16, 2009, its first ever local Investment Research Challenge (ICR) in Pakistan, taking Engro Chemicals as the target company. IRC is an equity research competition among student teams from top country universities. Based on extensive interviews, teams from four universities namely IBA, LUMS, SZABIST and Bharia University were selected. The competition was won by IBA. The winning team will now proceed to Singapore to take part in the Regional Research Challenge.

The ceremony took off with the recitation from Holy Quraan. The program was ably conducted by an in-hijab girl student of IBA. Dr. Ishrat Hussain, in his opening remarks emphasized the importance of CFA partnership that was, according to him, the beginning of a long drawn process which was surely going to benefit the students. He said that the global financial crisis has given us a rude awakening and we must equip ourselves to take on such challenges that are bound to come in future as well. Dr. Ishrat Hussain is known for having a vision to see IBA ranked among top 100 business schools in the world and among top 10 business schools in the Middle East and South Asia region. Afterwards Mr. M. M Ali presented some details on the operations of CFA institute. He told the audience that CFA was a rigorous self-study program on one hand and highly rated and rewarding pursuit on the other. He further said that the CFA enrolments were on a rise globally while the passing-out rate was on the decline which speaks about the high standard this program sets for the candidates. Mr. Mohammad Shoaib was the next speaker. He explained at length the working of CFAAP that has been instrumental in creating awareness about the highly rated CFA program. The number of enrolments for this program has greatly increased during the last 5-6 years. He said that CFAAP was working closely with the trade bodies and regulators in Pakistan. It awarded 60 scholarships last year to the deserving CFA candidates and is expected to award a similar number of scholarships during the current year.

Dr. Ashvin P. Vibhakar, CFA managing director, while speaking to the audience, said that he was pleased to see IBA become the first CFA program partner from Pakistan. He assured that Pakistani students graduating from the partnering programs will have a firm grounding in the CFA Institutes' ethical and professional standards. While explaining the CFA curriculum setting procedure, he informed that the curriculum is developed through extensive collaboration with practitioners throughout the world. At the close of address by Dr. Ashvin, the partnership agreement signing took place. Afterwards Dr. Ishrat Hussain and Dr. Ashvin held a brief question-answer session with the press people present there. Dr. Ishrat told that the BBA curriculum was set in a way that assured 70 per cent coverage of CFA curriculum. He further informed the audience that all students clearing the IBA admission test are accommodated irrespective of their financial position. No student clearing the test is ditched for financial reasons as up to 100 percent need-based scholarships are offered to deserving candidates. He further disclosed that merit-based scholarship program for students scoring a GPA of 3.5 and above was also on the anvil.