No charter without experience. Unfair?

Hello all,

i am a mechanical engineer aiming for a CFA. I started studying for level 1 December exam.

While I was doing my research, I realized that without proper experience in investments, I wouldn’t be able to get the charter even after passing all 3 levels.

This seems quite odd to me, and a bit unfair. It discourages people from non finance related backgrounds to pursue a CFA.

My only hope now is leaving my current job and finding a job in investments after passing level 1.

I think CFA should remove the experience requirements for people with non-financial backgrounds.

You think that would be fair or unfair?

Appreciate your thoughts.

Absolutely not. It is perfect the way it is.

I don’t work in finance yet and am taking level 3 next year. Its painful but what can you do

^^ In the time between the exams you couldn’t network / interview your way in?

it’s 100% fair. Does any other industry dish out certifications to people with no relavant experience? Giving out the charter to someone who has only knowledge from a book would be misleading to clients.

Not unfair, why would you need the charter if you have no intention to work in finance.

If it is just the “knowledge” you want from the program, who cares about a few letters behind your name if you got what you wanted out of the program?

Why would they want to allow people in without experience?

Does it benefit the CFA Institute or ewxisting charterholders? No

Does it benefit the clients of CFA charterholders or the general puiblic? No

Life’s not fair, life with it, or don’t. The CFA charter was not established for you to get a job in finance, it was established to set a standard for investment professionals.

So welcome to Analyst Forum, good luck with the exams and finding the job you want, but if you think this is unfair then I think you may have made the wrong career choice. Finance is sadly not well known for compassion or patience with junior staff.

I think he does have the intention. I read the OP’s post as " I want to work in finance but I am afraid I will not be able to break in the industry after passing all three levels, which results in having no/not enough years of experience to entitled as a charter holder".

OP: If these three letters in email signatures really matter to you, the requirement of work related experience can be seen as a push for you to get a foot in finance jobs.

Is there an expiration on time to obtain work experience?


Then it should make no difference to the OP except entice him/her to get a finance job

The experience component is the difference between a professional designation (valuable) and a certificate (worthless). I’d like to see CFAI tighten up the experience component to be honest, and I come from the corporate finance, non-traditional CFA, side. I managed a real portfolio for several years, yet I see lots of guys get the letters for auditing firms and claiming that “adds to the investment process.” Honestly there is a huge difference between the two.

Do you know the difference between a mechanical engineer and a civil engineer?

In your opinion, if “adding to the investment process”, is not a good way to define the experience requirements, how would you define it?

48 months work requirement is totally fair. Would you hire a plumber who has only passed a bunch of tests on paper and never apprenticed or did anything with his hands? As with Finance, there are simply a lot of skills you can’t learn or build by studying for tests. In fact, one L3 candidate on here aspiring to workin Equity Research was asking how to project sales for a company. It goes to show that while it’s heavily marketed that the CFA is the best, and closest to “real work”, the fact is the CFAI is just a strong base of background knowledge. L3 you get some “hands-on” financial advisor type case questions in the AM, but still a lot of skills are missing from everyday work skills in AM, IB, ER… etc.

In fact, some of the work experiences that people get accepted is quite laughable, and I’d argue it should be more stringent.

well said.

Mechanical engineers build weapons. Civil engineers build targets.

So now we’ll never know.

Probably OP is thinking to become a “Finacial Engineer” for the sake of a higher pay!

“Why should a financial engineer be paid four, four times… to a hundred times more than the, uh… real engineer?

A real engineer build bridges, a financial engineer build, build dreams.

And when those dream turn out to be nightmares, other people pay for it.”

― Andrew Sheng in goodreads

Where I went to school, civil is where the washouts from mechanical ended up. Civil’s GPA requirement for upper division classes was lower. Those that didn’t meet civil’s requirement ended up with a business degree and a much improved GPA. I always felt for engineers that had to explain their GPA to HR people.