CFA Institute Video

If I understand the ethics correctly, the word “CFA” cannot be used as a noun.

Contradicting this, if you look at the video posted on CFA Institute’s website:

Around 1:00 of the video, the one who claims to be the CFA charterholder in the video says:

“The CFA gave me a lot of information that I have not learned during my economics degree.”

Isn’t this a violation of ethics? I am confused… What am I missing?

My guess is lousy producer and failure of editor to get that under control before release. Would you recommend that a D.O. be sent to this nice German girl who said it?

Exhibit A

She was referring to the CFA (charter), which is not an Ethics violation

Had she referred to herself as being a “CFA” that would be an Ethics violation

Even referring to the charter, I thought you can’t still use the word “CFA” as a noun?

She clearly adresses it as THE CFA. I am not an English native speaker, but as far as I remember articles may only refer to nouns or verbs in certain constructions, whereas the abbreviation for the CFA designation may not be used as either a noun or a verb.

On a different point, I am fairly certain that CFAI just went to the closest hostel, put together a diverse crowd of people with really thick accents, gave them suits and let them quote a few lines in front of the camera. Just a mere image polish for the fact that 80% of the people aspiring to hold the CFA charter are white, male Anglo-saxons (which are hillariously underrepresented in the video). I can almost imagine the folks at the CFAI marketing department sitting together, brainstorming about how they could reach out to new audiences when someone shouted: Let’s make a video with the most stereotypical images of minorities in our program and how proud they feel, that will lure em in.

Does anyone know why you’re not allowed to use “CFA” as a noun?

(Hint: it has nothing to do with ethics.)

I always thought that is because using the CFA designation as a noun would imply that the holder automatically has the right to work in a certain occupation. Just like MD tells you what the person having the title is allowed to prescribe you fun-pills. But in the end it is probably some minor reason like a copyright issue with a company that produces office staplers: “oh look it’s the new CFA 3000, now stapling 200 pages at once with its enhanced auto-staple function” cheeky


So… is this a violation of ethics? (other than copyright issue)

Magician is correct, but the copyright enforcement piece of this is very important. Let’s make this very easy. It is hard to make the case that there is anything “unethical” about using CFA as a noun. However, the Institute addresses these policies in the ethics material because there is no other logical place to put them.

The reason that CFAI does not want “CFA” used as a noun is that it makes the use of the term “CFA” generic. If people started to refer to all finance professionals as “CFAs,” this could presumably damage the value of the charter and impair the screening mechanism function that the CFA charter and organization serve in the industry, separating those with higher analytical and ethical responsibilties from those without.

The common example given is that people call all tissues “Kleenex,” even when they are not manufactured by Kleenex; this means the term “Kleenex” has attained generic status over the years to describe ALL tissues. The idea is that Kleenex would prefer for people to call non-Kleenex tissues by their own brand names; the fact that the public does not largely means that the public does not ascribe any special value to the Kleenex brand when it comes to shopping for facial tissues.

Suppose that you worked in the medical field and worked for years and years to obtain your medical degree. Suppose that nobody knew exactly what was required for one to become a doctor versus a nurse or other medical professional like a hospital administrator or whatever. If all clients and industry workers generically referred to nurses and administrators as “doctors,” that would diminish the unique value that the doctor brings to the table, and would further confuse the patient’s ability to identify those with the paramount medical decision-making abilities in the industry.

Since the public knows even less about the investment field than the medical field, CFAI recognizes that it is imperative that the separation mechanism of those with the charter versus those without is as clear as possible, and protects it both legally as well as amongst charterholders by inculcating us with the directive to not use the marks as nouns so that we can self-enforce and prevent the “generification” of the credential in this industry.

The video ment to say: “The CFA [exams] gave me a lot of information that I have not learned during my economics degree."

He actually wasn’t referring to CFA as a person or the Insitute itself, but the CFA exams.

Also, he made a distinct between what he had learned in his economics degree and the CFA exams. It wouldn’t make sense if a CFA charterholder gave him information that he haven’t had in his economic degree.

My question is not about whether she refered to a charterholder or the Institute or exams or the CFA Program or any other.

My question is whether using the word “CFA” as a noun in any situation violates the Code and Standards.

And I don’t know why you are referring her as " him". She clearly doesn’t look like a guy.

I understood about the copyright issue. But does the Code and Standards address this?

In other words, if you look at the Standards of Practice Handbook, I see the examples of misusage of the word “CFA” when referring to the charterholder or designation.

But she seems to be not referring to those two as shown in the examples.

Does using the word “CFA” as a noun in any situation(e.g. referring to the Program or the exams) violate the Code and Standards?

I didn’t watch the video.

The sentence, “John Doe earned the right to use the CFA designation”, uses the word “CFA” as a noun. So its perfectly fine.

or… “The CFA designation is hard to obtain” also uses “CFA” as a noun.

Some would say “CFA” is an adjective to describe the designation, but then why would you capitalize it. It also implies “the Empire State building” uses “Empire State” to describe building. Thats crazy

The sentence, “John Doe is a CFA”, also uses the word “CFA” as a noun, but it implies the “CFA” is a group or trait, like he is a navy seal.

you examples are not nouns, here’s an easy test: if you can exchange a word with the word “funny” without rendering the sentence meaningless, the word in question is an adjective. If not, the word is a noun.

anyway, we might be dealing with a violation here, but who in their right mind would press charges? the possibility that you yourself might one day use the letters CFA as noun inadvertently is pretty high, so I would like to abstain from fostering an environment of slavish obedience and draconian punishments for minor mishaps.

I disagree. Is the “Atlantic” in the “Atlantic Ocean” a noun? I would say yes, it describes a specific unique ocean. The entire noun is the “Atlantic Ocean”. It’s not an adjective like the “cold” in the “cold ocean”.

Anyways, I don’t think there is a violation in the video, and also you can use the “CFA Charter” as a noun.

I guess when in doubt, play it safe.

damn i thought this was video of john rogers with the intern

This quote, from the direct source below addressing this matter: “The CFA® mark must not be used generically (as a noun) and should only be used as an adjective.” The link:

Note that saying “CFA Charter” of course is not a violation, BiPolarBoy, because in this context, CFA is an adjective to describe a charter. The whole of “CFA Charter” may be a noun itself, but it is not a violation since it is not “CFA” in isolation (that rhymes very well, I must say). In other words, technically saying that “I, Joe Blow, am a CFA” is a violation, while saying “I have a CFA Charter” is not a violation.

We should send a hundred thousand e-mails to CFAI and ask them to stop being so foolish.

The worry about CFA becoming a generic term seems almost as ludicrous as the ethics guidelines about it. It is hard enough for people to know what the thing is, let alone make it into the next Gillette or Kleenex. More known CFP, CPA and MBA seem to be doing alright, by the way. People don’t call every business manager an MBA.

Also, marketing-wise, Ries and Trout preach that the Kleenex effect is one of the best possible things that can happen to a brand. I agree. What would you rather buy? The Kleenex or the non-Kleenex? The other brand might not even be a paper tissue for all I know.