I am currently going into my junior year of college and wanted to get some advice. I am currently a Financial Planning/Finance dual major. I will have everything done to sit for my CFP exam by the November 2020 test date. I just wanted to know whether I should take that exam first, or start the process of the CFA Level 1 exam and take the CFP once I am done with the CFA. I know that most of you are a CFA, but I wanted to get some advice and tips on what to do in the next few years. Do you recommend any internships?


I have invested too much time and effort to pull out now, but the program isn’t worth it for the effort you need to put in (warning: opinion). Get work experience. And once you figure out which area in finance you’re most interested in, self-study in that area so that you master it, rather than be a quasi-jack of all trades under the CFA program.

I just challenged the CFP on Friday. I would say, it depends on what you want to do for work after you graduate. I would highly recommend that you do a couple of internships if possible - one in a wealth management practice and another perhaps at a bank or fund co. etc on the analyst side to get a feel for which direction you would prefer to go. Based on your major, sounds like you want to go the Planner route and work in a wealth mgt practice. In that case, I would get the CFP first, then go from there. (If you do, I would recommend earning the TEP designation after that).

CFP is very easy so i would just knock that out of the way. I hardly studied for it, snd you find out immediately if you pass. You cant use the letters until after 3 years of experience.

CFA, well that is truly a challenge of a program.

It’s been a while since I looked up the rules, but don’t you have to be an active financial advisor to get your CFP?

At any rate, imagine this scenario: You get a job at an RIA. Do you want to be the client facing relationship guy that talks about financial goals, retirement needs, estate planning, tax efficiency, risk tolerance, etc.? Or do you want to be the analyst that picks the investments? CFP is all you need for the first, and the CFA is all you need for the second. You don’t need both for either.

To like a duel?

Take the CFP, then take the required securities exam, get the life and health insurance license, then get a financial planning job and work 3 years on financial planning. Apply for your CFP certificate, then register for the CFA exam. After 4 years as a planner you’re qualified for CFA. Apply, and join your local society. Pass all 3 levels, and rock on.

If you’re in the US, You don’t need a planner designation to be a financial planner. You just need your securities license. If you have the CFP you don’t need the securities license but you can’t get the CFP without experience. So just get the license and get to work.

Just to clarify, since I will have a Bachelors degree from an accredited university, does that cover the work experience required to become a CFA? If so, would it make more sense to start the CFA process and then later challenge the CFP? Will that cover the experience requirement for the CFP as well?

I really need to learn how to make those GIFs; I’ve got the perfect one in mind.

Nope; a Bachelors degree is not a job and therefore does not satisfy the work requirements of the CFA program.

Find the gif (best to use the actual source website and not Google images) and just click copy and paste here.

That’s a longer path than becoming a doctor. No one needs to have their insurance licensing and the CFA. If you’re selling term life (which I’m not disparaging…most people should have it), you’re likely not doing the type of deep dive research the CFA would help with.

He wants to be a CFP and CFA. He doesn’t need an insurance license for either. It takes less than two days study though. So, why not? Also, I wouldn’t recommend a financial planner who doesn’t have an insurance license. It’s an indication of basic knowledge and in some states its required to practice. Even if you don’t sell it.

If he just wants to be an asset manager then he should forget about the CFP all together and get his experience in asset management.

I can chime in here. I’ve had my CFP designation since 2010 and have been working as a HNW planner since 2008.

The real question is do you want to be client facing or not? There’s equal pay opportunity (at least in Canada) for both client facing and analyst positions, but you have to consider your personality traits and where you’re best suited. And that takes experience.

If you’re close to being able to write the CFP I would go for it. No downside here and you’re already in study mode. It’s not terribly hard but its not a walk in the park either. Assuming you pass that I would honestly tackle the CFA up front. I’m 36 and didn’t start the CFA until I was 34. The further away from study-mode you get the harder it is. And if you wait until you have a family it’s even harder.

So in short my advice would be to write the CFP, try some internships if you can get them, and if you’re liking the finance world then go get the CFA.

^ You with a bank owned firm or independent shop?

Bank owned, private wealth division

^ oh ok. What do mean by equal pay for client facing vs. analyst roles, just curious. What are the job titles?

Well in my opinion an investment counsellor position in private banking (client facing) likely has a much higher ceiling for pay vs that of an analyst… but it depends on how fast you can grow your book. The CFA is a requirement for this position. The pay can honestly range from 150k to 900k+… just depends on how long you’ve been at it and well you connect with clients. Typical Investment advisors (non discretionary money managers) do not require the CFA and the pay is similar but again the same caveats apply.

I know a few guys working as fixed income/equity analysis/brokers/dealers and their pay also ranges from 150k+ plus. Some of these guys just aren’t great with clients so they’re better off behind the scenes. That’s not a slight, just their best fit. A few others are back office guys designing the presentations, analyzing numbers, portfolio managers etc. They’re typically working with internal partners rather than dealing with clients directly.

Theres too many other jobs and attributes to list but this is just my experience.

I should also add that the CFP is a huge asset to combine with the CFA if you plan to work in relationship management. Absolutely will not hurt you in the least and I think it’s one the best combos you can bring to the table.