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is it worth to be a CFA charterholder?

I have recently also sat for the CFA Level 3 exam, I’m not sure about my performance, but there is a question constantly bothering me. Will becoming a CFA charterholder add value to my career?

I know you all studied very hard, spent a lot of time, and had lots of stress in the process (including me) while studying and sitting for the exam, but just think about it. You pay a lot of money for registration, exams (some pass at first attempt, others not), you spend several years of your life to study, give up the valuable time of your life which you could spend with your family and friends, give up fun, gym, and partly your health, in the end just to put those three letters at the end of your name? In addition to all of these hardworking, commitment, and stress, you have to pay $250 every year just to keep those letters there. I have recently been to many interviews, and I can say that passing the CFA exams doesn’t make any difference. They are still going to ask the same questions, and if you have a good knowledge, and relevant experience, you can answer the questions and qualify for the job, you don’t need to have any charter.

Isn’t it just better to have a Master’s degree, MBA, or PhD, which gives you a specific knowledge and academic degree, while you don’t have to pay any subscription fees every year? You will have less stress studying (we mostly study CFA while working, which adds stress), get to increase your network, and still gain the same knowledge. I don’t see any benefits of becoming a member in any society, and I think that the charterholder reference should be given without any fees, or there should be any additional advantages for those who pay the fee. Please, update me, if I don’t have any additional information.

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I hate the fact that all the global certification these days need period payments either in form on membership or continuing renewal programs. This is essentially a racket. 

As to the job prospects, i guess most of us would have minimal direct benefit on career/job prospects since most would be well experienced (that counts really) in their jobs. And CFA designation can’t be compared per say to a degree. It is the icing on the cake. Without the ‘cake’ the icing doesn’t stand on its own. 

Nevertheless those three letter are worth it for me to ensure my resume stands out. 

Fredo wrote:

Isn’t it just better to have a Master’s degree, MBA, or PhD, which gives you a specific knowledge and academic degree

It is not better, especially in terms of specific knowledge. If you are in investment field CFA gives you gives you more hands on knowledge.  

Fredo wrote:

while you don’t have to pay any subscription fees every year?

Doing proper Master/ MBA/ PhD will cost you MUCH more, plus you pay everything now (hope you remember TVM), while for CFA you can stop paying membership fees any time.

Fredo wrote:

You pay a lot of money for registration, exams (some pass at first attempt, others not), you spend several years of your life to study, give up the valuable time of your life which you could spend with your family and friends, give up fun, gym, and partly your health, in the end just to put those three letters at the end of your name?
​​​​​​​I have recently been to many interviews, and I can say that passing the CFA exams doesn’t make any difference.

It’s all about priorities, if you can have some time without dramatically decreasing your life quality or seeing family&kids, then it worths - If you work in proper field it will def. pay off.

giggity giggity

You’re asking the wrong group for an unbiased opinion as we’ve already reached our own conclusions. I wouldn’t be on Level III if I thought it was wasted money / effort. 

Each time I read stuff like this, I very much want to ask what were your alternatives to taking CFA exams? This reminds me of a joke Warren Buffet made in his famous letters to shareholders, which I quote below:

  • “Our exemplar is the older man who crashed his grocery cart into that of a much younger fellow while both were shopping. The elderly man explained apologetically that he had lost track of his wife and was preoccupied searching for her. His new acquaintance said that by coincidence his wife had also wandered off and suggested that it might be more efficient if they jointly looked for the two women. Agreeing, the older man asked his new companion what his wife looked like. ‘She’s a gorgeous blonde,’ the fellow answered, ‘with a body that would cause a bishop to go through a stained glass window, and she’s wearing tight white shorts. How about yours?’ The senior citizen wasted no words: ‘Forget her, we’ll look for yours.’” - 2006

there’s some sampling bias here because you’re talking to the wrong audiance. and unfortunately you probably won’t sway much people, especially in the L3 section of AF.

Although I’ve heard the charter isn’t a direct pay-off immediately, most people will start seeing benefits in the coming years after earning it. I guess you have to weigh the opportunity cost of studying for years vs the alternative.

Level 3 is kinda like going to a buffet and getting more food than you can finish. Quitting and throwing it away hurts more than if you just sit down and finish it. - VWJETTY

^yep there was really no productive alternative for me besides work.

I love my cheese. I got to have my cheddar.

i work in pretty much back-office operations even though our team is pricing/valuations so i didn’t really have any good alternative either so doing the CFA is a no-brainer…even though i know it’s not a passport to front-office stardom. but after all these years, i’m kind of glad i wasn’t in front office to begin with because then i wouldn’t even be able to study the cfa. Hmm….maybe im putting the horse in front of the carriage but long story short i think the CFA brand still means something even though it’s not going to land (most) peoeple the glamorous jobs everyone so desperately seeks.

Level 3 is kinda like going to a buffet and getting more food than you can finish. Quitting and throwing it away hurts more than if you just sit down and finish it. - VWJETTY

VWJETTY wrote:

i work in pretty much back-office operations even though our team is pricing/valuations so i didn’t really have any good alternative either so doing the CFA is a no-brainer.

My team is also pricing/valuations. Do you work in one of the big 4s?

No but we get audited by every single one of the big 4! I work for a mortgage company that’s a gov’t sponsored entity. and bc of the financial crisis regulation and audit has been notched up like 10x in all our processes.

Level 3 is kinda like going to a buffet and getting more food than you can finish. Quitting and throwing it away hurts more than if you just sit down and finish it. - VWJETTY

I am the member of local Audit chamber and am obligated to life cycle education and must collect education points annually. I found CFA program as appropriate one for many reasons. The irony is now since I am the regular member of CFAI, I also need collect annual education points there.

Gone fishing...

Fredo wrote:
Will becoming a CFA charterholder add value to my career?

Maybe.

It certainly has added value to mine.

Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.

Financial Exam Help 123: The place to get help for the CFA® exams
http://financialexamhelp123.com/

VWJETTY wrote:

No but we get audited by every single one of the big 4! I work for a mortgage company that’s a gov’t sponsored entity. and bc of the financial crisis regulation and audit has been notched up like 10x in all our processes.

That sounds good! I am working with one of the big 4. So, I thought to check with you :)

Fredo wrote:

Will becoming a CFA charterholder add value to my career?

I believe patience is the key. If not at a very early stage, but I do believe as one progresses further in career, it does add value. People generally expect that it will reap benefits as soon as they clear LIII or LII. That’s not the case (at least in my country). But over the time with patience, experience and hard work, it does give immense benefits. Compared to any other financial course or MBA, it definitely costs you the least (until you are appearing multiple times) so the return on investment is usually one of the highest with CFA charter. 

No it’s not worth it.. people that have it view it as pretty easy in hindsight and those that don’t have it don’t care.. you can’t win

danv0330 wrote:

people that have it view it as pretty easy in hindsight

That’s the problem with most of the people. If they don’t appreciate what they have achieved, they can never understand its value and potential.

def. not worth it. i do just to feed my ego i guess. just like gotta do it doug!

being well connected and networking that what pays off. really.\

less book smart but more street smart

I think it is definitely worthwhile. At least for me it got me a front office job.

lo123ufo911 wrote:

I think it is definitely worthwhile. At least for me it got me a front office job.

What’s wrong with back office?

Gone fishing...

nothing wrong. equally respected. just better career upside IMO.

There are also more pretty girls in Front compared to back office, imo.

Gone fishing...

rhethorical questions here and there )

guess nothing in this world works like that - if A then B - if CFA charterholder then lots of money.

my take is it’s a solid piece of your career mosaic, and an excellent way to keep your brain in shape.

Agree completely.

Gone fishing...

Has anybody seen a top CEO with CFA on Bloomberg or elsewhere? Me neither.

Tell me and I forget.
Teach me and I forget.
Involve me and forget.
-Something Franklin

Hey Krok,

You need to define what is a top CEO. I’ve seen plenty of CFOs and CIOs (Chief Investment Officer, the equivalent of a CEO in investment management) with CFAs. There was actually some stats on this on CFAI, but a decent percentage of Charterholders held C-suite roles. Obviously having a CFA along with an MBA or CA helps.

https://www.cfainstitute.org/programs/cfaprogram/Documents/cfa_charter_f...

Actually here you go, 7% occupy C-suite roles. If there are approx. About 150K charterholders worldwide now, that would be more than 10,000 individuals. Impact and fame are not one and the same.

krokodilizm wrote:
Has anybody seen a top CEO with CFA on Bloomberg or elsewhere?

Bill Gross.

Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.

Financial Exam Help 123: The place to get help for the CFA® exams
http://financialexamhelp123.com/

Daniel Chornous. Abby Cohen. Marty Whitman. Just to name a few more

Chuck Norris, Hulk Hogan and many more…

Gone fishing...

I haven’t seen any charterholder on TV, with the credentials after their name. Perhaps they selectively choose when to disclose their CFA status?

Tell me and I forget.
Teach me and I forget.
Involve me and forget.
-Something Franklin

Just the three letters beside your name has a significant hidden value. Trust me on that.