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What can CFA exam do for career

Hello friends,

I beginning to start the journey on CFA examination and wondering the benefits all of you have come across. I am background in statistics and engineering and currently 25 years of age.I hear a lot of very good things from several people. Aside from a lot of study hours I know that it is a much difficult process. Since I am new to CFA world I am wondering and curious to know the kind of jobs you may get and how much money people with CFA make. I read financial people around 30 years age without CFA in US make average around 80 thousand annual with 15-20% additional income. How does CFA affect this information? 

Thank you for much needed input.

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CFA won’t do much for your career besides maybe increase your interview-call rate by a small %. You’re more likely to pass the initial screening. Other Charterholders and candidates will value your efforts. That’s about it.

It depends on how you apply what you learnt from the curriculum in your work. For example, if passing level II improves your valuation skills (maybe you have a better understanding of different discount rates and risk premiums), you’ll become a stronger analyst and thereby good things can happen in your career. If you pass level II by memorizing the formulas but do nothing to apply the knowledge in real life, that’s about as useful as a golf club in a football game.

You’ll find a lot of people say it doesn’t open doors - tell them thanks for the feedback and then write them off (for good).

Here’s my story:

I worked at a front desk at a gym, and also was a delivery driver out of college (pizza delivery). I was just chilling not trying to do anything more. I had a great life, but my parents wouldn’t help me get a job of any sort. I loved trading though (traded FX since I was a freshman in college - wasn’t making enough money to quit and just flip everyone off). So, I decided that finance is probably where I could follow at least what seemed like a passion. I stumbled across the CFA program literally by chance, and interested in how “hard” it’s supposed to be, I was ready for a challenge and enrolled. 

I passed level 1, and then took the first job that I could get my hands on. Again, I will double down on the fact that people who say passing the CFA exams don’t open doors are full of **** - it 100% opened a door for me. I took my measly trading/re-balancing job and performed so god damn sickening well at it, that the very moment I passed level 2, all eyes were on me from my company’s internal asset management division (I work in fintech). And sure enough, a couple months later, I found myself in the seat I wanted to sit in (I had to interview for my job twice. Once in 2017, and again last October). 

My boss is absolutely in love with the CFA program and everything it entails. So, that would be my best advice to you, is go take the exams, and then find someone who is also highly passionate about the CFA program. It took me a lot of work, but if you don’t get discouraged, and keep working your dick off, you can make it. I literally sit in the seat I am today, because I passed these exams.

Last bit of advice for you: If you meet people along the way who tell you the CFA program won’t help you, ignore them. It hasn’t helped them, and they want you to experience life the way they experienced it.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It be like that sometimes.

I have worked in investment management for the last 6 years in a pseudo-legal role.  When I got started here, I had never heard of the CFA.  I came from a legal background and have a math degree and business degree.  I noticed a lot of the folks I supported at the office had the CFA designation after their names (whatever that meant!).  So I dove in these CFA waters head first and, without really knowing what it entailed, studied my ass off for L1 and, out of fear of failure, passed.  Brush, rinse, repeat for L2 and L3.  I realize now, however, that I was so bored with my job, the CFA studying and preparation was the great big, festering neon distraction I needed (kudos to anyone who gets the reference).  But did it help me land a better job?

So far, it has not.  I passed L3 in 2018, got my work experience approved in October and have relentlessly applied to all types of jobs.  Entry-level jobs, experienced jobs, jobs in NYC, jobs in San Francisco, a few in Europe, hell one was in Hong Kong.  Probably north of 500 or 600 resumes total.  And I have absolutely zero to show for it save for those shiny letters after my name, yay!  But hope springs eternal, I’m going to continue to be as disciplined with my job search as I was with my studies.  Do I regret anything?  Only the foolish decision to go to law school way back when.  You have a lot of myopic people who serve as the gatekeepers for jobs that think that just because one hasn’t done something before, they can’t.  Well, I never mopped floors for a living.  Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be damn good at it if I wanted to!

I think it will become more of a requirement rather than good to have in the future. specially for investment management jobs

Equityhacker wrote:

I think it will become more of a requirement rather than good to have in the future. specially for investment management jobs

+1

CFA designation is becoming a requirement. At my firm you must have the designation or show progress towards it if you (ever) want to get promoted. It it pretty competitive => CFA (MBA has “lower” value) + personal skills (clients must like you) + experience. 

As far as money - this is finance so sky is the limit. Value = money. You never want to be on the cost side (back office) and always want to be generating revenue (trading, sales/client facing). 

I should have added above that - yes, the CFA is cool, and impressive, but there is no substitute for a charismatic personality.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It be like that sometimes.

#Models&Bottles

+1. Maybe if you have a masters/MBA/PHD it isn’t a requirement but I think it would be very challenging to progress in investment management now if you just have a bachelors degree (unless your personality is something else or you just cant stop making money for your firm)

Some may benefit from CFA designation for complete career change, some may not; its luck but at least CFA designation opens doors for you to strive with more confidence in the desired direction. Nonetheless, chances of career progression will substantially increase because you start thinking and talking same language as others in the field of Investment Management, Investment Banking, Equity Research etc. whether you are Ivy grad or some middle tier university. In short, CFA designation minimizes such differentiation for professionals already working in the mentioned fields and also provides opportunity to individuals who desires to switch to the career in the mentioned fields.        

Im just getting it for bragging rights. I am a financial advisor & wealth manager with about 2000 colleagues, of which about 500 gave CFP and about 5 have CFA… soon i can brag about being the 6th…

CEO10K-DAY wrote:

You’ll find a lot of people say it doesn’t open doors - tell them thanks for the feedback and then write them off (for good).

Agree. It opens a lot of doors.

I often met people who say CFA is not valuable/worthwhile or it is overrated are the ones who couldn’t complete it or never enrolled in the program for whatever reason. My personal experience is CFA makes lot of change in the professional life. Your colleagues take you seriously in the discussions. Overall I see there is sufficient respect for CFA designation in the industry

At my firm, the investment people often have CFA but insist it isn’t valuable and that all that matters is their experience.  It might be the case that people forget how they got the job in first place.  On the sales side it is a must, because without it the investment guys, investment consultants, and some clients think you’re an idiot.  

^these folks covered it pretty well, I just want to add that whether you receive recognition really depends on how much your supervisor values the charter.

I had two bosses that really value it and believes that I take initiatives and can add more value than other colleagues; then I have another boss who at times can’t even remember the acronym and uses this as an excuse to say that I can resolve tasks independently that our department head handed down since i ‘must have learned that from the program’. 

Fyi I work in corporate treasury smiley

Many charter holders seem to discount the benefit as well as the difficulty of the exam after finishing the program. I would take it with a grain of salt every time a charter holder claims that there has been no benefit of getting the charter or that the exams were a breeze. (probably a case of a serious self-attribution bias)

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

Dark_Magician wrote:

Hello friends,

I beginning to start the journey on CFA examination and wondering the benefits all of you have come across. I am background in statistics and engineering and currently 25 years of age.I hear a lot of very good things from several people. Aside from a lot of study hours I know that it is a much difficult process. Since I am new to CFA world I am wondering and curious to know the kind of jobs you may get and how much money people with CFA make. I read financial people around 30 years age without CFA in US make average around 80 thousand annual with 15-20% additional income. How does CFA affect this information? 

Thank you for much needed input

First things first; If you’re an ******* and people dislike you, they will dislike you even when you are a Charterholder (bummer, I know!). No one..ABSOLUTE NO ONE…wants to spend 40h+ in an office with a dickhead. So, more important than any degree or charter, is to be a good person. Genuinely. 

Secondly, being a Charterholder is just a proof that you went through a gauntlet and that you know the basic stuff about finance. 

Thirdly, salary is relative. 80k in NYC is not a lot…but the same amount in Alabama/Estonia/Ukraine allows you to be very comfortable.

Lastly; I’m no wise man with wise words. But here is my story: I started studying for my Charter in march 2016. It has taken WAY MORE time and hours and sacrifice than I anticipated. I heavily doubted myself in the beginning even today, I’m not sure if I’ll pass the LVL3 exam. Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll see in 2 months (However, today I know I’ll anything necessary to have my Charter one day) But so far, starting to study for CFA has been one of the best decisions I have made. I got a job that I love (without CFA I would have never ever passed the interview questions), I have learned tremendously about finance. As stupid as it sounds, I realize how little I know about finance but…at the same time I realize that I know A LOT. But I recommend it 100%. It’s worth it. But then again, I belong to the 20% who will end up passing the program and not in the 80% group who will fail. Your life…your choice. Whatever you choose, it won’t change how happy you are!

It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

CEO10K-DAY wrote:

I had a great life, but my parents wouldn’t help me get a job of any sort.

Wut? 

Obtaining the CFA charter does not automatically win you a new job in the world of high finance. It should never be assumed to be the magic key that unlocks a whole new world for any individual. In numerous instances, the CFA reputation has really provided some credibility to the charter holder, especially when you speak to Corporate Finance and Accounting professionals. In a practical sense, the lessons on the curriculum provide each candidate almost all the tools necessary to do a decent job, which will ultimately buoy the professional’s potential to go higher up the corporate ladder.

Just got a new job, they emphasized Cfa in JD. Employer also likes the emphasis on ethics.

Ethics? We talking ‘bout ethics?

Pray in the AM, Slay in the PM

do CFAI consider corporate finance at big tech company as relevant work exp ? Can someone ans please ?

CFA won’t help you get a job finance or investment management but it will help you a lot if you are already working in this profession for a few years. 

sahilkwats wrote:
do CFAI consider corporate finance at big tech company as relevant work exp ? Can someone ans please?

Ask the only people whose opinions matter: info@cfainstitute.org.

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

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I’ll echo what other folks are saying: the designation is unlikely to land you a better job by itself.  That said, it IS likely to help you advance in your current role more easily, assuming your current role is in the financial industry.  Why?  Because it enhances your knowledge and that will naturally find its way into your job performance.  Leaders on the desk are often leaders because they are “thought leaders” and it becomes easier to provide that kind of leadership if you’ve enhanced your knowledge of the entire financial industry, which doing the CFA program would help with.

I can only tell you my story and my perspective - coming from Denmark, there is probably a lot that is completely different but here goes.

I have a masters in finance and math, and I finished in 2009. While studying I had a part time job at the trading floor of a mid-size Danish bank. It was fun but the financial crisis of 08-09 killed it (they don’t exist anymore). Having no job and with high unemployment I settled for a middle office job doing IT/risk reporting. This was really good for a few years but I eagered to join the front office. I asked my boss a few times but I could feel, that this particular work place wasn’t looking for new portfolio managers. So what to do - when I applied for jobs I was in the bottom of the pile due to my lacking front office experience. I started the CFA in hopes of things to change - but I still got no interviews for portfolio manager jobs even on level III. So I applied at a valuation team (a bit of a set back salary wise) within infrastructure and stayed there for three years building my resumé. Now with a CFA charter and a valuation background I got interviews, but I still felt behind other candidates and didn’t get the jobs - usually they told me to get experience within other fields too. So I started at a real estate fund in their transaction team (I had no monetary responsibilities still just building models, making presentations and meeting with clients) but learning the ropes of real estate. I was only there for a year before I landed my new role as portfolio manager within alternative investments. My absolute dream role. My new CFO told me that he had high regards for the CFA (which is not that common in Denmark) and that my resumé was outstanding for the job. 

TL:DR. The CFA opened some doors - work experience opened others. 

Does the CFA help with client interaction in terms of being taken seriously? Just wondering how popular CFA is outside of investment industry

Opened a lot of doors for me. Long story short I went from management consulting to capital markets consulting to private equity now… and if I pass level 3 I’ll get a very nice bump in salary. So aside from career progression, the salary benefit is certainly there - keep your head up and disregard any haters. 

romedome wrote:
Does the CFA help with client interaction in terms of being taken seriously? Just wondering how popular CFA is outside of investment industry

When speaking to American clients it really does. They definitely take you more seriously and are always impressed with the charter. I love Americans that way. Haven’t seen an effect here in Europe - especially not in Denmark. Rarely anybody knows about it - so why did I do it - to open the doors where people did know about it (and to broaden my own horizon).

Doing the CAIA now - nobody knows about that one, so that is on me a 100%. But looking forward to those letters behind my name as well! Again learning a lot on the journey.

S2000magician wrote:

sahilkwats wrote:
do CFAI consider corporate finance at big tech company as relevant work exp ? Can someone ans please?

Ask the only people whose opinions matter: info@cfainstitute.org.

They will reply >50% needs to be involved investment decision making lol, I tried a few months ago.