Bleak Outlook for CFA

There have been a few threads running recently that have been rather discouraging in considering whether to pursue the charter. AF posters have claimed to have received their charter, but have not found value in its ability open new doors to desirable jobs in finance. I believe there will be some restructuring of how financial services firms work in the U.S. after the market crash, and I think outrageous seven figure salaries will be eliminated or drastically reduced, but I’m seeking opinions as to whether the charter will continue to hold value for those of us looking to move up into six-figure interesting jobs in finance. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m not upset about top ibankers making half of the million dollar salaries they used to bring in, but I would be upset to find that more typical financiers with their CFA are worth significantly less than they used to be. I’m not sure I want to go through with this if the finish line holds a $50,000 salary and a lowly job in corporate fp&a… It’s also important to note that I’m asking all of this in the context of a long time frame before I would be able to receive my charter. Do you think the CFA will be of significant value in 4 years? Is it worth it, or should I listen to the naysayers?

what do you currently do now ? What does your resume currently look like ? What are your career goals apart from just making a certian amount of $$$ ?

If you like this industry for reasons other than megabucks, it’s worth pursuing. Especially if you are starting now, it is likely that a recovery of some sort will be started by the time you finish. Astronomical salaries are likely to come down, so if that’s a dealbreaker, it’s probably not worth the effort, but if you enjoy the process of trying to add value to an investment process, a CFA should still be worth it.

Two many people view it as a magic ticket. You have to open doors yourself, be motivated and get out there. You are not going to receive your charter and magically land your dream job.

I’ve never seen an industry where it is becoming easier to be a part of, move up in, or anything else. The CFA is there to help you do that. Its not a catch-all, but I will feel better about my future career prospects knowing that I hold it while many others do not, and hate the idea of being passed over for some nice positions because I do not have it. Do it, get the edge, and move on…but enjoy the ride and knowledge gained as well

Mr.Good.Guy Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Two many people view it as a magic ticket. You > have to open doors yourself, be motivated and get > out there. You are not going to receive your > charter and magically land your dream job. +1

ksjhawk Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > I’m not sure I want to go through > with this if the finish line holds a $50,000 > salary and a lowly job in corporate fp&a… > > With this kind of attitude, it’s not going to be worth it. Get an MBA instead.

Mr.Good.Guy Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Two many people view it as a magic ticket. You > have to open doors yourself, be motivated and get > out there. You are not going to receive your > charter and magically land your dream job. Spot on. I think if the CFA were really a golden ticket into finance, there would be more sections devoted to professional etiquette, networking, and relationship building. After following this forum for several years, it seems that the bigger problem most people face is not the exam itself, but how to get their foot in the door. And as more and more people get the charter, it is becoming an increasingly commoditized credential and less of a distinguishing criterion. As bchadwick and others have pointed out, do the CFA if you enjoy learning the material and especially if you come from a non-finance background. However, keep in mind that at the end of the day, finance is like every other profession where getting ahead often has more to do with who you know and how well you understand the system, as opposed to how many tests you’ve passed. To me, it seems that the copious number of people questioning the value-add of the charter (at least with respect to opening new doors) is a reflection that there are other important considerations when trying to get the “dreram job.”

By the way, I also want to point out that the value the CFA holds depends on where you come from and what feld you’re trying to get into. In my case, I didn’t feel that the CFA would add as much value to my professional portfolio as pure networking and relationship building, not to mention the other part of things where the industry I wanted to get into (and where I am at now) doesn’t value the CFA that much. It became a matter of simple cost-benefit analysis, and in my case, I felt my time was better spent on other activities. However, other people may have a different story.

I feel, from my own experiences, that the Charter can add a great deal of value in the long run. Employers view the continual pursuit of education favorably. My candidacy in the CFA program certainly helped me to transition out of my operations role much sooner than I would have been able to otherwise. Younger professionals who do not have an established track record will certainly gain much more value than somebody in their mid 30s who have established themselves. If you are looking to make a career change after several years then an MBA is the better choice. Overall I think it is best to just get both and not look back.

Its just a designation. When hiring people have to make decisions with partial information. The CFA helps in that regard. You are less risky to a company because they know that the CFAI has already tested you. If you are good at what you do people will notice, the CFA will just help get noticed more quickly.

OK, so maybe some of the charter’s luster has worn off. . . so has the MBA’s. It is getting hyper-competitive out there, anything extra you have will help. Pursuing the CFA can only help you in my mind but I also recognize that, yes, it is only a series of tests and networking skills and raw talent have a lot to do with what you make of your career.

How about networking while you are taking the CFA with other CFAers. Then join the local society, volunteer, and you will have great exposure to local CFA top dawgs.

Everyone is questioning the markets and the financial sector in general. The fact that there are questions about the merit of the charter is a natural progression. Don’t be deterred but be cognizant that like everything, when considering someone for hire, people look at the “whole package”.

Thanks for all the responses guys. I really don’t have a bad attitude or an expectation to obtain my charter as an instant golden ticket to the top. I understand that performance (and maybe connections…) is going to determine success. Just the same, it’s important for me to understand the value that the charter does hold before investing thousands of dollars and hundreds of study hours chasing after it. For those that asked, a brief resume description would look like this: Recent Kansas University grad, finance major, 3.5 GPA I’ve been working in corporate fp&a for 5 months, and it’s turned out to be a lot of operations type work, rather than finance. While I was in college I worked for a financial services company for a year…basically doing glorified data entry type stuff I’ve also got a GMAT score of 660, but being 5 months out of school I won’t be considered by any great programs for a few years

ksjhawk, I’m relatively certain that this is the second thread you’ve started questioning whether you want to pursue the charter. I’ll make it easy for you. If you really don’t know whether you want to do it, don’t try it. If there is anything else that you would currently rather be doing, that will only multiply when you are trying to study. Without complete dedication, failure is likely (even with complete dedication, failure can occur). Here is what I wrote in the other thread (and I’ll still stand by it): Try not to think of it just as a destination, but also as a journey. I’ve enjoyed the gained knowledge thus far (L2 Candidate) and hope that the knowledge may help me in my professional situation in the future. The CFA behind my name would be great, because it indicates that you are an ethical, hard working individual with a significant amount of financial knowledge. BUT if you have just somehow passed the exams without truly gaining/retaining the knowledge, I’d assume that the charter wouldn’t be worth that much to you. The charter may not get you a job (maybe, maybe not), but it can open some doors for you if you truly know the information. That’s why I try not to look at it just as a destination.

Ohh, and career goals. That’s tough. To be painfully honest, I really don’t know exactly what I want to do. That being said, in the meantime, I’m thinking I might as well try to work hard to set myself up for a promising career in finance since that’s the field I’m working in. So I guess my only current career goal is to be successful. If that sounds vague and stupid…well, it is. The idea of being a trader sounds exciting, but without being able to get a job in trading, there’s just no real way for me to know if it’s something that I would truly enjoy.

I worked in corporate FP&A for two years. It was torture.

What is FP&A? Financial performance and analysis/accounting?

Financial planning and analysis. It’s a very broad field that describes most entry level jobs in corporate finance, IMO.