The zillionth question regarding qualifying work experience - corporate finance or teaching?

I’m trying to get information regarding whether financial control counts towards the CFA’s work experience requirements. The information I’ve obtained is decidedly mixed - obviously, a CFO of a conglomerate would count; obviously, a bookkeeper would not.

Perhaps a bit of background would help. I graduated back in 2009 and, due to lack of opportunities, I decided to go to China, learn Chinese and polish off CFA (did level one in undergrad) while making living money teaching English. I figured, what the hell, others are going to MBA and Law School after graduation, why not cut out the 100 grand of debt and just rely on things that require self-study. In retrospect, it wasn’t exactly the best career move, but I love living in Asia and probably wouldn’t undo it.

One of the teaching gigs I got ended up being at a foreign-run language start-up, which has actually been doing quite well - got a large chunk of investment and is currently on the second school looking at a third. Being integral to their growth (writing curriculum, recruiting teachers from the States, etc), I actually had quite a bit of leeway to make my own position. Once I finished up level three, I pushed for a ‘financial controller’ position, which I designed to basically encompass most of the functions of a CFO, but without the bawdy title. My responsibilities, which end up touching a little bit of everything (tons of operations and recruitment still) are:

-creating financial statements

-handling the bank reconciliations

-budgeting and forecasting

-forecasting for potential new branches

-building and overseeing systems for accounting, analytical accounting, and budgeting (I communicate with the IT person who actually builds the systems, outlining our needs)

Again, because it’s still a small (albeit growing) company I end up needing to do a plethora of different tasks. I even still take some teaching hours when we need someone on the schedule.

Now, I think it would be a worthy persuit to get the CFA letters. I know that for someone in this sort of position a CPA or a CMA would have been more suitable, but the exams are over and done with and what’s done is done.

First, I was wondering if this sort of experience counted toward the four years. I heard that if you’re in corporate finance, in order for the CFA to count it needs to be heavy on the budgeting and forecasting. Is this true?

Second, as the company is a training center, I actually have, as I said before, a good bit of leeway in creating my position. I’ve heard that teaching is an easy way to get the 4 years. I could, in theory, create some accounting/finance/economics classes to satisfy over 40% of my working hours. Yet while that would be the easiest way to get the letters, I’m unconvinced that it would be a good career move.


If you can play up the corporate finance part, that works. I was surprised that CFA accepted some of my non-profit experience when we were analyzing the business viability of grant applicants to determine whether loans were likely to be repaid or whether grants would be required as well. It didn’t make-or-break my case, but I was a little surprised that they accepted it.