A couple times a week, I like to go through all the different forums on this site and, more or less, see what everyone is talking about. As someone who will be taking the Level I exam in December, I realize I’m in the first stretch of a long marathon and I try to take as much from each reading. I have a BA from a large, private university and have been a commodity trader at a futures trading exchange for about 6 years, 10 years total at the exchange. I have little to no “formal” finance education and thought getting a CFA charter would help fill this void, if I ever decided to get into asset management. After going through a lot of these posts, I have an overwhelming sense that a good chunk of people who are getting their CFA’s think it’s pointless? I have seen hundreds (it feels like thousands) of posts that pretty much say the CFA is useless and that if your not rockin’ a top 20 MBA program by the time your 27, or didn’t get a banking job right of undergrad, you’re pretty much screwed and wasting your precious free time. Just wondering if anyone out there knows of a positive experience or situation where the CFA designation was helpful in their career? I’m not asking a fairy tale or anything. It would just be cool to get a sense of where the CFA helped. OR, if you prefer to be unoriginal, you can just tell me that I’m ancient (32) and have no place in business because I never did an internship at GS while I was in college. Hope everyone is well and enjoying the summer! -J
You have relevant experience, and you want to learn. Just do it for these reasons. I do it for the same reasons, and also because my company pays for it and requires it, and I have time. Obviously it’s a good point on the resume. I have seen the annual report of one CWF with a chart on it, the percentage of CFA charterholders, Level 3, L 2 and even L1 candidates among it’s workforce. It is getting more and more prestigious.
If you are wondering if it is really worthless, do this: Go to www.efinancialcareers.com and put CFA in the search term. In fact, don’t bother I just did it for you. 515 jobs First job that sprung up - Senior Portfolio Manager CompanyCML Offshore Recruitment LocationUK-London RemunerationUS$100,000 - 150,000 TAX FREE SALARY Position TypePermanent Employment typeFull time Updated06-Aug-2010 eFC Ref no677214 Apply online Save this job Send to friend Print this job Asset Management professionals invited to apply for this role in the Cayman Islands. Must have CFA and BA in Finance. “Must have CFA.” I think that sorta answers your question. Your experience sounds great. The CFA should be additive. Good luck with the studies…!
+1 to both replies to the OP. Just do it.
It depends on what you want to do. If you want to be in research or investment management, you will be hard pressed showing up with no CFA and a bunch of futures trading experience. Here’s my abbreviated story. Got a job at a bulge bracket in the back office out of school. Absolutely hated it - you get no respect, and despite what they might tell you, there is zero lateral movement out of the back office. Worst part for me, though, was dealing with people making 150k acting like they ran the shop - still makes me want to puke thinking back about it. So I knew trade settlement wasn’t for me - shocker - so I took level I of the CFA, passed, and started thinking about what I wanted to do. More and more, research was on my mind, and I got lucky enough to literally rub elbows with a senior analyst at the company gym a couple times. His associate happened to leave in the ensuing two months after meeting him, he offered me the job, and I was pumped. However, speaking to the bureaucracy of big shops like that, my managers in operations, in addition HR, yes, HR, would not let me move to research. So, with no prospects for another job, I quit on the spot. After taking level 2 that spring, I wrote research, modeled and figured things out the best I could. I sent all my work to bulge brackets - got a couple bites - but everyone just pushed me off because I had no experience. Eventually, I pitched myself into a role at a small research shop and I’m still here three years later covering my own space. I would have never been able to get an offer at the bulge bracket, write my own (clearly immature) research while unemployed, or get my current position without at least passing level II. Life, and most things, are what you make it. For me, even partial completion of the CFA was a game changer. I would still be in the back office hoping for a 100k a year scheduling position like some of the other guys. Hope this gives you some perspective.
I think people b*tch about it because they expected to be entitled to something once they passed the exams. When that doesn’t happen they throw a pity party and blame the easiest thing around.
Just remember that the CFA is not enough by itself. CFA shows that you have the book knowledge that you need for many parts of asset management, but you also need to show a sample of your work and (preferably) have experience doing something asset-management related. The jobs market in the past 3 years has been incredibly brutal, which makes finding something even with CFA stuff behind you extremely difficult. Many people interpret that to mean that the CFA is useless. Don’t be fooled. It makes a difference - it’s just that other things are happening that make it extremely difficult to turn CFA progress into the job progression you want right now. But those things will eventually pass, and when it does, the CFA will help you. I find myself using knowledge I gained from the CFA exams almost daily. I’m glad I did it.
Great post bchad! Also understand that the events of the past 2-3 years have permanently changed the dynamics of investment/finance industry globally and that most of us are having hard time letting it sink in. The barriers to entry have been raised a bit. CFA program has helped me already and I am confident it will help me when I finish the program. Also, I didn’t go to Ivey League school and didn’t intern at GS/Fid/JPM although I do have a decent job and make a modest living. CFA does help but as bchad said “CFA is not enough by itself”.
The remarks noting the difficulty of finding employment over the last 3 years cannot be strssed enough. Financial services is in a RECESSION right now. The trading revenues from 2009 attributable to the declines in markets is long over. No M&A, no ABS origination, no ABCP growth, research is commoditized and available often for free if it is even worth that, and credit availability is vacant. All these things mean a CFA or not having a CFA will not garner you much at this point in the curve. As someone who got the designation in 2007 - and who doesn’t work in asset mgmt or research - it really was not worth the effort. I get kudos at cocktail parties, that’s about it. And the CFAI JobLine is worthless and the NYSSA uses efinancialcareers - which is even more worthless.
“CFAI JobLine is worthless” That’s what I am most dissapointed by. Maybe it’s because of the current tough market, but I expected more from the Jobline. If future candidates have a chance to see the Jobline before signing up for the program, I wonder how many would decide to not pursue the designation.
dmnyc Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > > As someone who got the designation in 2007 - and > who doesn’t work in asset mgmt or research - it > really was not worth the effort. I get kudos at > cocktail parties, that’s about it. And the CFAI > JobLine is worthless and the NYSSA uses > efinancialcareers - which is even more worthless. “it really was not worth the effort” Unfortunately that’s why I am most likely quitting the program after passing L2. I missed out on a lot of fun activities in the hopes of moving up in the finance game, but there has been no real benefit for me. I don’t suspect having the charter or passing L3 will add much. Perhaps if jobs were plentiful having the charter could help. But when is that going to happen in this economy? We are 3 years into this recession with no signs of improvement. So realistically, is 5 years from now a decent timeframe for the time of “explosive” growth? I’ll spend my time doing something else. To the OP, you will find a few success stories here and there. But as you’ve seen in your research of past posts, the vast majority of people do not transition and the CFA doesn’t help.
If I’m filling a position, all else equal, I will hire the person with the charter.
a persistantly crappy job market should be a reason to pursue the charter, not a reason to shun it. its not about moving up in such a market, but actually finding and holding onto employment. because of the surge in cfa charterholders, it will become a hiring REQUIREMENT for many positions in the finance sector, similar to what a bachelor’s degree is to the entire job market. most jobs that only require typing and ppt building require bachelor’s degrees. it is one of the most affordable employment income risk reductions outside of a bachelor’s degree. anyone who’s passed LIII could tell you that reducing the risk in attaining employment income is likely the most accretive activity in a high unemployment rate society.
MattLikesAnalysis Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > a persistantly crappy job market should be a > reason to pursue the charter, not a reason to shun > it. its not about moving up in such a market, but > actually finding and holding onto employment. > because of the surge in cfa charterholders, it > will become a hiring REQUIREMENT for many > positions in the finance sector, similar to what a > bachelor’s degree is to the entire job market. > most jobs that only require typing and ppt > building require bachelor’s degrees. it is one of > the most affordable employment income risk > reductions outside of a bachelor’s degree. anyone > who’s passed LIII could tell you that reducing the > risk in attaining employment income is likely the > most accretive activity in a high unemployment > rate society. I agree with this. And: Passed all CFA levels with no experience will ALWAYS lose to a non-CFA charter with Good Experience. In today’s job market, there way too many people with good experience. So naturally all the people trying to break in will have a very tough time.
murders&executions Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > If I’m filling a position, all else equal, I will > hire the person with the charter. Depends on the “position” I am “filling.”
I’m taking CFA to improve my English.
I LOVE LAMP.
I’m an Australian and my “english” became Americanized after studying the 3 levels… i.e. using z instead of s anyway took cfa quite young, because i got one of those cfa student scholarship programs, passed L1 and though aww, what the hell, might as well finish it.
CFA made my biceps bigger. But seriously. A good friend of mine in my office has passed all 3 levels. After passing level 2, and several months before passing level3, had a job interview with a small mutual fund company. Interviews went well, but he didn’t get the job because after he sent his transcript they realized his GPA was not up to par. HE WENT TO PRINCETON! After passing level3 he called the hiring manager to let him know the results. Even though NO ONE in the hiring office passed level3, they still refused to hire him or even give him a second look. By far one of the brightest guys I work with, but it goes to show you that having a CFA is no guarantee. I was baffled to why he didn’t get the job…poor interview skills, bad breath, who knows. All I know is that I may spend the next two years killing myself to pass these tests and still stuck dealing with $20k IRA’s and making 55 grand a year.
CFA does help in getting interviews… that’s only objective truth