50th Anniversary Celebration: What the CFA Charter Means to Five Notable Practitioners

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The panel for "Celebrating 50 Years of the CFA Charter" (from left to right): Charles Ellis, CFA; Gary Brinson, CFA; Abby Joseph Cohen, CFA; Zouheir Tamim-Jarkas, CFA; David Darst, CFA; and John Rogers, CFA.

Kicking off a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the CFA charter, CFA Institute President and CEO John Rogers, CFA, moderated a panel of charterholders who earned their charters in each of the past five decades. These five extraordinary practitioners discussed what CFA Institute, the charter, and the investment industry mean to them. They included:

  • Charles Ellis, CFA representing the 1960s
  • Gary Brinson, CFA representing the 1970s
  • Abby Joseph Cohen, CFA, representing the 1980s
  • Zouheir Tamim-Jarkas, CFA representing the 1990s
  • David Darst, CFA representing the 2000s

The panelists answered questions ranging from why they volunteered with CFA Institute to how the investment industry can restore the public’s trust.

Each panelist brought a personal perspective and delivered engaging answers. In fact, Darst’s fiery responses raised the question of whether he should in fact be a motivational speaker in his spare time. In addition to delivering a rallying cry to restore trust, he cited a lengthy passage from Shakespeare and enthusiastically expressed the opinion that the industry is at an inflection point in which the baby boomers are passing the baton to a new generation of investors who are more globally minded and technologically savvy than their predecessors.

The most compelling portion of the discussion was listening to the panel discuss the challenges inherent in the markets today. Ellis explained that as fees have risen over the past several decades, incremental risk-adjusted returns have declined. He lamented that there has been very little preparation for the “confrontation of that reality.” Brinson added: “I never thought in my 40 years in the business I would ever see a five-year treasury inflation protected bond trade at a negative yield of 1.3%.”

As markets and technology evolve, there is still a need to concentrate on the fundamentals of investing. All of the panelists agreed with Cohen when she asserted that “valuation matters.”

Tamim-Jarkas delivered some interesting insights based on his perspective as an investment professional living in the Middle East. He noted that ethics and corporate governance have been on the “front burner” in his region. All panelists agreed that globalization is a powerful force, and with that comes the need for more consistent global standards — especially ethical standards. To that end, Ellis ended the discussion by telling Rogers, “We wish you all good luck.”

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