Before today, there were
two three organisations offering certification in analyst relations: Lighthouse offered a professional development certificate to AR managers who passed our ten week webinar course; KCG offered a multiple choice quiz based on its course. (CustomerClix says it also “offers certification – not as comprehensive as this”) All of those certificates shared three weaknesses:
- Cost – because students had to lay out around $1250 for the training which is a precondition for the certificate.
- Credibility – these qualifications were both issued by commercial providers of other services to the students, so there was a clear conflict of interest. If some firm has paid $1250 for an employee to attend a certification course and they failed to get the certificate then the firm is going to look for a more ‘reliable’ supplier of training. It doesn’t really care if its was more the employee’s fault or the provider’s fault. And if you have a bad experience with one service, you may reconsider the rest. No independent organisation, like the CPD service, validated the certificate.
- Conditionality– the condition for getting these certificates was doing the course rather than knowing AR. Because the qualifications were based on the providers’ terminology so, for example, if you were were an experienced AR professional but didn’t know what IDEAL or DMB was then you’d be dropping points – even through you could successfully lead analyst relations work without needing to know those acronyms.
The IIAR’s test has been carefully assembled by some of the sharpest minds in the AR community, and it overcomes these weaknesses.
- Cost – The exam is free for IIAR members. The fee is £100 for non-members and includes the opportunity for any candidates who initially fail the test to retake it; that’s less than $160 dollars!
- Credibility – because the exam is free to members and inexpensive to others, and because the IIAR isn’t a profit-seeking organisations, there’s little or no conflict of interest. And because the test is developed by a group of highly skilled AR gurus (though, personally, I’ve had no input into the questions) the method is robust. Most significantly, the certification comes from a professional association with official recognition as a non-profit. That’s much more credible. Some people will fail the test, since candidates need to get at least 84 questions right. Yes, 84! So it’s also a very comprehensive test, designed to test analyst relations professionals about a wide range of topics related to the discipline and execution of analyst relations.
- Conditionality – You don’t even have to be an IIAR member to take the test. If you know AR, you’ll pass this test. Some of the questions are tricky, so it will make you think. There’s a meaningful difference between a high score and a low score. And that means that some people will fail (which is why there’s a retake built into the fee). But people who don’t know AR will find this certificate much harder to get.
Having seen some of the sample questions on the test, I have to say that it’s also enjoyably stimulating. Some of the questions will challenge your assumptions and blind spots about analysts relations. You’ll want to get straight on the phone to discuss the questions.
Candidates interested in taking the test should make arrangements by contacting IIAR board member Peggy O’Neill directly at [email protected]
P.S. Read Peggy’s blog post about the test at http://iiar.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/iiar-launches-certification-for-analyst-relations-managers/