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I am a charterholder. What's my opinion of the CFA journey?

Now that I have the charter, is it worth it?

I feel the CFA exam and all that it entails were not worth it. The CFA teaches things that will not suddenly make you good with money. What it does do is make you a higher paid EMPLOYEE to any company you work for. What it does teach you are tools to manage the money of OTHERS (not yours). And the more you earn with an employer, the greater of a slave you’ll be to them. In other words, the CFA makes you a high paid slave. Today, I am no closer to living a truly free life than I was when I started the charter. I just earn maybe $20,000-$40,000 more a year, which when taxed, is barely anything significant. I still wake up everyday at 6am and come home at 6pm, and I pray everyday my master employer doesn’t fire me.

If I had to do it again, I would’ve trained myself to learn about money and how to make it as an entrepreneur. In my journey after the CFA, I have come to know people who retire at 35 and travel the world. How? By finding ways to make money outside of working for The Man.

Really dig deep and ask yourself what you want. Do you want a high paid job until you’re 59 1/2 (which you’ll likely get with the CFA, if not now eventually because the CFA does have significance)? Or do you want to retire and be financially free before 40?

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I’m not a charterholder . But here is my opinion. You probably did the CFA for the wrong reason . It looks like you are focusing on the cash you will earn as a CFA .  Unfortunately CFA doesn’t guarantee you that you will be rich when you will fulfill  the requirements to be a charterholder . When you have your charter , you have the tools to be a better investor  and help others around you .

Actually , if  you are focusing only on  the money , you are already a slave & you don’t even know it . If you ‘are not happy with your job , it’s not about the CFA , but you .  

Maybe a better introspection about your true motivation  & what you want  in your life will help you to focus on what will make you happier. 

Employers may be different as well as entrepreneurship experience. I used to run my own business and also think that career was something for slaves. After 2 years of operating realized that I got stuck in one place without further growth. While my other groupmates started working in Big4 companies with frequent trips.

Interesting. I’m self employed and love it. I’m getting the charter for marketing purposes not to be some sort of wizard investor.  I’m trying to develop “the packaging ” especially around my business consulting and planning.  I’v had requests to analyze closely help Businesses after the death of the owner.   I’ve seen cases with minority shareholders and with wholly owned enterprises. Often, they come after the fact with no buy-sell agreements and serious estate liquidity problems.  I find my work fulfilling. I’m also fulfilling a life goal I just never got to until now.  I hope my revenue increases because of this. but even if I only break even after the expense and time commitment, I know I’ll be happy. 

Financial Planner
BBA (Finance & International Business) 1998,
MBA (With a Global Perspective) 2011,
ChFC® 2018, CLU® 2019
Owns an Independent RIA/Insurance Agency
Series 65, Life, Annuities, Health (Expired 6,63)

Self employment is a long term dream of mine too. Unfortunately, I do not think there is any qualification that will get you there on its own. What I do believe though is that there are qualifications that will help you get there, and for me without a doubt the CFA is one of those qualifications. As is an MBA, CAIA, FRM, CPA etc.

You should do these certifications because you have a thirst for knowledge and are willing to learn. And when you do them, you need to make the most of them. Network. Make sure you join your local society, go to events, shake peoples hands, drink some wine with them and above all else talk to them - that is arguably the real value of these certifications

I’ve thought about entrepreneurship as well, but the way I think about entrepreneurship vs investing is this:

-how many people fail vs. succeed when starting their own business? Do we hear about them? Why not? 

-large corporations most of the time can do the same thing as the smaller companies for a fraction of the cost. So instead of competing with them, why not invest in them instead? (exceptions: disruptive technologies where small innovations do not solve the larger growth needs of a company. Ex: an invention that targets a $5 mil. market is not going to be useful for a multi billion dollar company)

-I’ve met business owners who wished they could be corporate employees instead, because infantile customers are more demanding than bosses, plus the pay as a corporate slave is more stable.

In other words, is the grass really greener on the other side? Are we ever really free? With all things said, I’d much rather be an investor and take much smaller risks than be an entrepreneur (riskier). The CFA is great for investors. As for corporate employees, CFA is more like a marketing, resume booster, which is what it sounds like you used it for. Maybe you can use it to negotiate a much better raise. If not, try to get a different job that pays better. Corporations are never loyal to employees anyways.

Because you’re fellow soldiers of the CFA program, I will respond. I don’t pretend to be authoratative of the money subject but I have learned a bit since finishing my studies. Please read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I will not ramble on and on why self-employed is an even worse way of making money than being an employee (e.g. taxed even higher, if you don’t perform the business doesn’t make money, you must create and manage everything from marketing to IT to clients). Nor will I argue why making money is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your future generation (the rich often say “to not fight to build a vast empire and fortune is selfish and it robs the future generations of vast amount of opportunities). Just read that book and pick up the bread crumbs along the way to develop a holistic picture of how to become FINANCIALLY FREE.

I wish you all luck whatever path you choose. But if you do choose the CFA path, know the benefits and exactly why you’re doing it.  What are the right reasons? One is that you can utilize +70% of the content taught in the CFA to make you superior in your job which will immediatley lead to greater earning potential in the form of profits or pay raise (although I never depend on the latter - I pursue my own raises in the form of investing).

The problem is you thought you were done. You must always be a student. The CFA is really nothing except consolidated knowledge. You should have expected to absorb the knowledge and move on to the next book. You should have been applying your knowledge to become financially “free”

The CFA should have taught you the basic concept of leverage. That is how you become financially free. Leverage is the key. LEVERAGE! 

It could be a business or trading strategy… but the underlying fact remains that leverage is the quickest way to freedom. Leverage up wisely. ;) it’s a double edged sword. 

cfacharterholder123 wrote:

Now that I have the charter, is it worth it?

I feel the CFA exam and all that it entails were not worth it. The CFA teaches things that will not suddenly make you good with money. What it does do is make you a higher paid EMPLOYEE to any company you work for. What it does teach you are tools to manage the money of OTHERS (not yours). And the more you earn with an employer, the greater of a slave you’ll be to them. In other words, the CFA makes you a high paid slave. Today, I am no closer to living a truly free life than I was when I started the charter. I just earn maybe $20,000-$40,000 more a year, which when taxed, is barely anything significant. I still wake up everyday at 6am and come home at 6pm, and I pray everyday my master employer doesn’t fire me.

If I had to do it again, I would’ve trained myself to learn about money and how to make it as an entrepreneur. In my journey after the CFA, I have come to know people who retire at 35 and travel the world. How? By finding ways to make money outside of working for The Man.

Really dig deep and ask yourself what you want. Do you want a high paid job until you’re 59 1/2 (which you’ll likely get with the CFA, if not now eventually because the CFA does have significance)? Or do you want to retire and be financially free before 40?

1) Did you actually get the Charter thinking that it was a one-way ticket to the bling-bling life?

2) If you’re making 20-40k more per year, I’d say that’s a pretty good hourly compensation for the 900hours you put into studying for the Charter. 

3) Sounds like your view on entrepreneurship is heavily influenced by reality tv and instragram. 

If you're the first out the door, that's not called panicking

To get a driving license, you must go to the driving school. They won’t teach you how to win Formula 1.

Then why go to the driving school and why bother with the license?

Because that is the prerequisite to drive.

CFA will get you in the right position to show your talent in the world of finance.

As far as your statement of a free and happy life is concerned, I think you need to find a life purpose and pursue that. It has nothing to do with CFA or no CFA.

I have a BBA, MBA, DBA, 600 certificates, OMCP Charter, AvMP Charter, and currently, I am pursuing a Diploma in Advanced Studies of Aviation Management. Along with that, I am preparing for CFA Level 1. None of this is because I think these charters and pieces of papers make me superior, or that I want a bigger paycheck, or because I want to be the boss of 5000 employees.

I just like learning new things and I enjoy economics. My joy is in the journey.

I will have the CFA in few years. Then what? I will find something else to be curious about.

How much one earns should have no bearing on how much one learns.

To be a little blunt, those people making millions and retiring at 35 are probably people who would do research before going the full path through something only for to find out at the end that it wasn’t what they somehow assumed that it was.

Sorry to be harsh, but nobody makes anyone do it. You can decide if it’s worth it for you. People can’t complain if they didn’t do the research. Did it change my life? - No. Did I expect it to? - no. Do I regret doing it - no. Is it time-consuming and a big investment - yes. Is the material difficult? No way. It’s a basic introduction that hardly skims the surface in many topics. It rather informs or reminds you that that topic exists.

Even if you do feel that you wasted, lets say, 3 years. Well that’s not the end of the world. You are free now to go and do what you think you could have done 3 years ago. And then just retire at 38 instead of 35. You are also 3 years older with 3 years more experience and 3 years savings behind you so you are even more likely to succeed now compared to back then.

I can train to run and finish a local marathon if I want. Just to challenge myself. I’m not going to get upset then if I see some guy on TV winning an Olympic gold.

Your tale is however valuable to warn other people who might make the same false assumptions as you did.

The Charter is worth it. If you have made the decision to start do not let naysayers put you off it. I was always taught to never leave things unfinished.

The Charter is not a golden ticket. Everyone embarking on this should know that, and if they don’t then they haven’t done enough research before signing up.

The Charter is however a statement. It’s a statement of intent, perseverance, intellect and so on. 

The Charter will teach you many things you already know, and also many things you did not. The curriculum will add value to your depth and breadth of knowledge in this industry. Anyone that suggests otherwise is dramatizing. 

The Charter will extensively improve your big picture and lateral thinking. There is no doubt on this. What you learn through the hundreds of case studies you see across all the levels will, on some level - conscious or subconscious, help you in your career, and allow you to ‘connect dots’ in a more logical and consistent manner.

Is this to say you could not have achieved all of this without the charter? Of course you could have - but the format and structuring of the CFA will keep you on track and set goals and milestones for you that you otherwise would not be as motivated in reaching.

In my opinion, completion of the CFA exams was one of the most testing experiences of my life. What I learned technically, pales in comparison to what I learned about myself. It is the blend of both of these that will make you a better person for embarking and completing it.

.....woof