The value of awards and certificates to financial professionals and companies

Bluerating | October 2020

What is the value of a certificate attesting to a set of skills acquired during a training course, a certification or an award won as best financial advisor of one or several networks?

The answer depends on the reliability of the certification body, the panel of judges, and the set of skills attested to by the certificate.

In fact, the difference between earning a degree from a high-profile university (such as Harvard Business School, London School of Economics or Bocconi University) and earning a degree from a lower-ranked institution (such as CEPU) is clear to everyone.

The same goes for certificates: in this case, the brand value of EFPA or CFA certificates is much higher than that of a certificate of participation attained at a general and uncertified training course.

As for awards, what matters most is the credibility of both the panel of judges and the board in charge of selecting the candidates, the evaluation parameters and voting methods.

Of course, in the world of Italian financial consultancy and private banking, some awards and recognitions enjoy a better reputation than others. The financial industry recognizes their value, entering the contest and naming a representative set of candidates (e.g. the Bluerating Award).

Some awards more than others promote healthy competition – in Italy, one of the best examples is Contest Is King by ASSOGESTIONI, hosted at Salone del Risparmio. Clear rules, a shared algorithm and a statistically meaningful board of judges reward each year the best and most engaging conference, regardless of the presence of famous guests.

Some Italian awards are directed to AMCs in particular – among them, it is worth mentioning Premio Alto Rendimento, awarded to the best management company by Sole 24 Ore. Similarly worthy of note is the Morningstar Award, also known for the Ratings issued by the same company.

Regardless of their reputation or popularity, these events share two important characteristics.

The first is that financial awards and recognitions are less common in Italy than in other countries, notably in Anglo-Saxon countries with the UK and the USA on the lead. There, some awards have come to enjoy an iconic status, becoming highly coveted in Italy as well (for example, the Financial Times’ Finance Community Awards).

The second characteristic concerns the enhancement of the value of awards and certificates in the eyes of the public, above all among current and potential clients. While

companies – banks, financial networks and AMCs – never miss a chance to publicize their successes, the same cannot be said of individual professionals.

One example: a research commissioned by EFPA dating back to a few years ago drew attention to the fact that, in the eyes of Italian savers and investors, the value of the EFPA certificate was greater than certified or uncertified professionals had assumed.

Of course, publicizing certificates and awards is the best way to improve the personal brand image of financial advisors and private bankers, while increasing their credibility in the market. In doing so, it is best to avoid a self-indulgent or self-serving attitude, but rather to highlight the distinguishing factors that led to success.

Long life to well-publicized awards, then, and to award-winning people.

Nicola Ronchetti