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Harnessing the Tools of Influence to Increase the Value of CFA Institute Membership

Harnessing the Tools of Influence to Increase the Value of CFA Institute Membership

CFA Institute's mission is "to lead the investment profession globally by promoting the highest standards of ethics, education, and professional excellence for the ultimate benefit of society." One of our key strategic functions is Standards and Advocacy, so our ability to influence is key.

But that isn't what this article is about.  This article is about membership, and how membership itself can harness the tools of influence identified by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his books Influence and Pre-suasion. Those tools are: Reciprocation, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, Scarcity, and Unity. I believe that the consistent, ethical application of these tools can increase the value of membership both individually and collectively.


As much as some people in finance may view life as a series of arms-length transactions, humans have evolved to cooperate with others. This often means being willing to give something of value without immediately getting anything in return. The resulting social bonds encourage reciprocation, which may come in a form totally unrelated to the initial gesture.  As CFA Institute or local society members, we can start by volunteering for committees, the research challenge, or other activities to provide value to fellow members.

Commitment and Consistency

People like to be seen as consistent, and a small initial commitment can be reinforced into progressively bigger commitments. Stating a preference for CFA charterholders or candidates in a job posting, for example, could then increase the likelihood of hiring one. Likewise, the annual professional conduct attestation can reinforce the idea that we behave ethically and bring that behavior into greater focus. 

Social Proof

When people aren't sure what to do, they tend to look at what others are doing. Lead by example.


One of the best parts of my jobs is that I get to meet people from all over the world and all specialties of finance. Almost always I end up liking these people. The initial bond of CFA membership serves as a conversation starter and helps establish a sense of shared interest.


For society to progress, hierarchies have typically been necessary. It is thus natural to look toward those in positions of authority when considering various courses of action. Hanging your framed charter on the wall and using the designation on business cards are ways of demonstrating the authority you have earned.


We often want certain things more simply because they are difficult to obtain. There is no doubt that the CFA charter qualifies on this front. We should not be ashamed to talk about the high standards involved in pursuing our designation.


A sense of belonging creates strong bonds. This sense can be brought about by simply being together, or by acting together. We can leverage this sense of unity by seeking out our commonalities and promoting them.

An article in Harvard Business Review suggested that networking activities should be focused on the value, rather than the size, of your network. What are you doing to increase the value of your professional network?



Become Genuinely Interested in Other People

Become Genuinely Interested in Other People