What Is a Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)?

The term chartered investment counselor (CIC) refers to a designation awarded to qualifying financial professionals by the Investment Adviser Association (IAA). In order to become a CIC, candidates must meet certain professional criteria, including holding the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. There are no educational requirements but CICs must fulfill the continuing education requirements as prescribed by the IAA.

The IAA established the CIC program in order to recognize the experience of professionals in the investment counsel industry.

Key Takeaways

  • The chartered investment counselor is a designation awarded to qualifying financial professionals by the Investment Adviser Association
  • CIC candidates must work with an IAA member firm for at least one year and must have at least five years of experience working in an eligible profession, such as an investment adviser.
  • Applications must be accompanied by a letter of reference from a senior member of the firm and must spend more than 50% of their time as an investment counselor and portfolio manager.
  • Although there are no educational requirements, the candidate must be a CFA.
  • CICs must provide annual employment certification and must not be under disciplinary proceedings in order to retain the designation.

Understanding Chartered Investment Counselors (CICs)

The IAA launched the chartered investment counselor program in 1975. It was designed in association with the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute. The purpose of the program was to promote and recognize professionals who work in the investment counseling industry. The purpose of the award is to identify individuals with significant experience as investment counselors and portfolio managers.

The designation is awarded to individuals with qualifications and experience consistent with those outlined in the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. This includes the fiduciary and ethical responsibility the adviser has to their clients as well as their experience and skills.

Professionals qualify for the designation after working for an IAA-recognized firm for at least one year and have at least five years of experience in an eligible position, such as an investment adviser. The candidate must also:

  • Must be a CFA
  • Provide a letter of reference from a senior executive from their firm
  • Spend more than half their time investment counseling and managing a portfolio

There are no educational requirements to become a CIC and there is no exam. Candidates must adhere to ethical and professional standards and provide proof of employment certification every year in order to retain their designation. CICs cannot be subject to disciplinary proceedings at any point during their careers.

Candidate applications are reviewed annually between March 1 and Sept. 1 and must be accompanied by a $100 fee payable to the IAA.

Special Considerations

As fiduciaries, chartered investment counselors must provide personalized, unbiased advice that is in the client's best interest. As part of the application process, candidates must identify their job responsibilities, such as economic research and securities analysis. Candidates must also provide work and character references and complete an ethics questionnaire. 

The Investment Adviser Association

The Investment Adviser Association is a nonprofit organization that exclusively represents the interests of federally registered investment advisory (RIA) firms.

Founded in 1937, the association played a major role in the enactment of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Its membership consists of more than 600 firms that collectively manage in excess of $20 trillion for a wide variety of individual and institutional investors.

The stated purposes of the Investment Adviser Association are to:

  • Promote high integrity, public responsibility, and competence in the advisory industry
  • Represent the profession through the development, formulation, and enactment of legislation
  • Provide benefits, services, and products that assist and add value to member firms as they conduct their business.