Credentialing Space Disrupted as Financial Data Professional (FDP) Institute Welcomes the First Class of FDP Charterholders

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“Since we formally launched the FDP Institute, the response from the industry has been universally positive,” said William J. Kelly, CEO of the CAIA Association.


Candidates from 20 countries sat for the first FDP exam in November working toward a credential that reflects high levels of expertise in data science and its applications in finance


AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS (December 19, 2019) – The Financial Data Professional (FDP) Institute recently completed its inaugural exam cycle and has welcomed the first class of FDP Charterholders, early adopters of what is rapidly becoming a mark of distinction for those financial professionals who increasingly find themselves tasked with bridging the two worlds of financial analysis and data science.

Founded by the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association, the global leader in alternative investment education, the FDP is a first of its kind credential designed to address the need for education and standardization for industry practitioners who, in order to remain competitive, need to have a deep working knowledge of the growing roles played by big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in the finance industry.

“Since we formally launched the FDP Institute, the response from the industry has been universally positive,” said William J. Kelly, CEO of the CAIA Association. “There is a clear need and appetite for this kind of credential. As the trends of 2019 have made very clear, the finance industry is moving towards a new model that sees human expertise closely integrated with tech-driven approaches. To stay not just ahead of the curve but even relevant in many cases, it’s imperative that financial professionals be able to show a deep working knowledge of the quant-focused side of the aisle and, by earning the FDP, this first class is doing just that.”

Added Kelly, “These same professionals have a tremendous responsibility to ensure that this alternative data, and all of the related data science tools, are used responsibly under unimpeachable ethical standards.”

In November, Candidates from 20 different countries sat for the exam. Residents of the Americas, APAC and EMEA were all well represented. There was a wide dispersion in experience and financial roles, including asset management, allocators and portfolio managers. The test takers’ experience levels were relatively evenly split between those who have been in the finance industry for less than a decade and those who have worked in the space for a decade or more.  Following is additional information on the FDP class of 2019:

  • Two-thirds of new FDP Charterholders are based in the Americas; with the balance evenly split between EMEA and APAC.
  • Approximately 10% of this class are women.
  • FDP Charterholders are based in both developed and emerging markets, including UAE, South Africa, Peru, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia.
  • 53% of FDP Charterholders are CAIA Members.
  • All of CAIA’s largest markets, including the US, UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Canada, are represented in the first FDP class.
  • More than four dozen individual companies are represented in this first class.
  • While the majority of the new Charterholders (38%) work in asset management/finance, the class also includes allocators, investment bankers, service providers, academics, and technology providers.
  • 62% of the FDP Charterholders considered themselves beginner level in programming; 25% are intermediate level.
  • Charterholders report their primary motivation for pursing the FDP Charter is career advancement, followed by continued education and personal satisfaction.
  • 72% of the Charterholders already have one credential in the industry, and 42% hold the CFA charter.

“I wish to congratulate each of the candidates who sat for our first exam this fall,” said Mehrzad Mahdavi, Ph.D. and Executive Director of the FDP Institute. “We were very pleased by the varied backgrounds and locations of this first class and are excited about the traction the FDP has generated thus far and for the future.”

The FDP designation is a self-study program designed to educate financial professionals about the emerging field of data science and its practical applications in the financial sector. The FDP Charter is granted to individuals who successfully complete prerequisite requirements and pass a high-stakes exam focused on big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning applications in the financial industry, along with standards for ethical usage of these approaches and these emerging categories of data.   

Those interested in pursuing the FDP designation can visit for more information and to obtain the prerequisite and the FDP exam requirements.  The FDP Institute has selected an international list of prerequisite content providers and will continue to broaden this list to enable more choices for Candidates.

Registration for the next FDP exam, which will take place from March 16 – April 4, 2020, is now open and those interested can register here. A webinar for those interested in learning more about the exam and the preparation process will also be held on December 19th, with registration information for that event available here.

Please email with any questions or for further information about the FDP Institute.

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About the CAIA Association 

The CAIA Association is the world leader in alternative investment education, offering the only education program uniquely designed for individuals specializing in institutional-quality alternative investments. The Association is best known for the CAIA Charter, an internationally-recognized credential granted upon successful completion of a rigorous two-level exam series, combined with relevant work experience. Earning the CAIA Charter is the gateway to becoming a Member of the CAIA Association, a global network of more than 10,000 alternative investment professionals located in more than 97 countries. The Association supports 30 global Chapters in financial centers in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and North America, including a Virtual Chapter that brings together Members from far-flung locations around the world. CAIA also offers the Fundamentals of Alternative Investments certificate program (“Fundamentals”), an introductory-level online course, designed to provide a foundation in the core concepts in alternative investing. This program represents a natural extension of CAIA’s mission to provide solutions to specific market needs for alternative investment education.

About the FDP Institute

The FDP institute was established to address the growing need in finance for a workforce that has the skills to perform in a digitized world where an increasing number of decisions will be data and analytics driven. The FDP institute offers the only global educational program and designation to bridge the gap between financial professionals and data scientists. The FDP credential offers expertise in data science and its practical applications in finance. The FDP curriculum was designed with the collaboration of academia and industry practitioners and is divided into two segments, the online prerequisite courses, providing foundations of mathematics, statistics and Python programming, and the FDP exam covering big data, data mining, and machine learning applications in finance. 

To learn more about the CAIA Association, contact Deborah McLean (413) 253-7373 or For more information on the CAIA Charter, please visit 

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