No one knows what the CFA program is

Friend (an Econ PhD): What are you doing this Saturday? Me: Studying for an exam. Friend: What exam? Me: CFA level II Friend: Didn’t know you wanted to be a CPA Me: *Facepalm* Colleague (Urban Planner, caught me reading Schweser quicksheet at lunch): What’s that? Me: Just revising for an exam Colleague: What exam? Me: CFA level II Colleague: Oh that’s nice my brother is an accountant too! Me: *Facepalm* Boss (Finance M.Sc): So I see you passed this exam (level 1 last June) and made a reimbursement claim. What’s the exam for? Me: CFA level I Boss: What’s that? Me: It’s a finance related program. Will help with what I do for you guys. Boss: Oh ok. Approved.

It’s a bit frustrating. Oh well at least I can value swaps now.

Have to agree somewhat.

People outside the industry definitely don’t know CFA vs CFP vs CPA but if you are not an architect or builder, would you know what Bill Smith, LEED signifies? Likely not.

While it is a bit frustrating to have to explain to an outsider what the CFA program is, and knowing that they can’t even begin to understand your dedication and think that you are trying to become a CFP to sit in a local Charles Schwab office and deal with retail investors, the people who need to know, do know and understand what the CFA program is and why it matters. The Econ Ph.D guy doesn’t count, really, although how could he do research and not come across an article written by a Charterholder? As for your boss, I am guessing his masters in finance is from a long time ago and you guys aren’t in a shop where CFA is important.

While CFP does a bunch of advertising on CNBC etc. to draw attention from retail investors, doing the same for CFA would be a waste of time as we are really not trying to appeal to those folks, for the most part.

Mmm. I second analystdude. In my workplace, a financial services organisation of sorts, not many people knew what the CFA Program was or entailed. However, those who’ve joined from hard financial services companies are aware of it and the difficulty and dedication it entails. Among those I count three credit risk directors from global banking institutions, a chief economist, many structured finance professionals with decades of experience, and those a bit lower down who want to push themselves further in pursuit of knowledge or their career.

Also, if you’re lucky, your local CFA Society, like mine, will be advertising heavily to make readers of local financial newspapers aware of the Program. There have been a number of campaigns over the past year or so in my country.

Funny, but I have a Prof right now whose Ph.D is in Econ and he was very much familiar with the CFA Program.

JK. But I didn’t mean to imply all Econs are oblivious to the Charter just that you wouldn’t see Milton Friedman, CFA

Alan Greenspan, CFA?

A few weeks ago my wife heard a sponsorship announcement for CFA Institute on NPR.

When I am asked what im studying for, I just reply “a financial exam” which conveys the message pretty well. I try to avoid being compared to CFP (sorry to any CFPs out there)

And then they see a CFP commercial and figure that must be what you were talking about, lol.

I’m afraid that is probably the case.

Aside from the “CF-what?” questions, when people learn that I work in finance (usually from my wife, I try to avoid this kind of small talk at all costs) the conversation usually goes:

Wife’s Friend’s Husband : So what do you do?

AnalystDude: I’m in banking, real exciting stuff

WFH: Oh yea? The wife was saying that you’re an investor, what’s a good biotech stock?

AD: Oh, sorry I don’t really know. I’m a corporate finance guy

Econ doesn’t concern itself with the practical and what would actually help you get a job, so not surprised. I’m an econ major myself… I didn’t hear about the CFA till a while after graduating and even the guy who told me about it didn’t know much about it. “A few guys who work with me have it, seems to help your employment prospects, it’s a couple tests.”

usually when you have to explain to people, it is a sign that the said thing is not very important or prestigious. Harvard, MIT, Stanford probably don’t have to explain a lot. But CFA is pretty important although having the cfa charter does not allow you to do things that non cfa charter cannot do UNLIKE with the CPA…

In theory…

Nor do people understand the time you have to invest & sacrifices you have to make. Do you think I want to sit indoors on Memorial Day weekend? Nor do people understand how hard it is to pass. I get so many “Well you’re smart, i’m sure you’ll pass!” No, dude. Everyone who takes this is smart.

@MRL yeah that too.

bought life insurance from a guy with CLU and ChFc. I believe these are insurance focused exams/charters. the dude said oh CFA…I have couple of those myself. I never bother to explain to people who don’t know because in the end I lose. I come out as the insecure one. As I have said, I never hear Harvard grads explain how tough it was to get in and how prestigious their school is etc. People just know. Rich people never try to show off by talking. They just show in actions by pulling out a gold plated paladium JPM card at the counter. It is the middle upper who desperately try hard to be the rain makers.

This is the exact reason why I find troubling that so many AF members want to say "MBA ranked #10-#20 < CFA blah blah lol. Just don’t…

My advice is to work for someone who has completed the CFA program themselves. They will understand how much effort is required and will compensate you accordingly. The next best option is to work in a department where at least a few colleagues have completed the program, so others are familiar with the designation.

As far as illustrating what the CFA program entails to those outside of finance, it’s best to keep it high level, and use numbers to illustrate the difficulty. “Only about 10% of people who sign up for Level 1 end up finishing the program” for example.

This would have been my response to the life insurance salesman, Infinitybenzo. But yea, I agree with what you’re saying.

so if one adds CFA to his tinder profile, the girls there will not know that it was difficult and guarantees superior performance?

Most definitely. When I finished page 1 of book 1 my wife instantly was impressed with how much my performance had improved.

I don’t care what no one knows, gonna play my bass anyhow…

JJ Cale