What is CFA most useful for? I was told CFA is not useful for Investment banking (sell side), but it is well regarded at buy side – asset management, hedge fund, is that true?

you were misinformed. I would say IB Equity Research is the most appropriate position to pursue the CFA, then second buyside analyst that reads the research.

CFA is most useful for people who want to manage money and assets (i.e. portfolio managers) and the analysts that support them (mostly buyside analysts, but sell-side analysts can also benefit). To some extent, the stuff learned in CFA can help with IB, but there are probably more direct, efficient, and less painful ways to get IB specific knowledge.

I don’t think you fully understand the business. Investment banks have investment bankers (M&A types) who would not see much benefit. They also have research folks, who would benefit.

Yeah, that makes sense. I knew there was a little bit of overlap between IB and CFA, given that IB types have to come up with valuations and a lot of CFA stuff is oriented to how you value things, but you’re right that it’s mostly the analysts supporting IPOs and M&A activity who would benefit from CFA stuff. Probably a more direct way to get at that would be to do one of the Wall Street Prep, Wall Street Training, etc. modules. These aren’t the sort of things you would stick on a business card when you’re done, but they have the advantage of a) being cheaper than three levels of CFA, and b) being shorter to complete (can do it in a few days to a week, depending on how much you are trying to do). And it might help to point out on a resume that you’ve done them. As for getting into IB, my sense is that the big banks have a pretty routinized recruiting process that targets people coming out of top schools and MBA programs. If you don’t get in there, your best chance is networking, and even that is hard to do in the IB world (I’m told).

I want to use it: a) to get into a better MBA program (didn’t go to a top undergrad program), and to b) leverage against a job in trading. Any thoughts on this?