Many of you have been studying non-stop for the CFA exams for months and are feeling a little overwhelmed and maybe even questing if it is all worth it. I thought I would share some of my own experience having the CFA charter as well as testimonials from around the web from other charterholders.
Your own reasons for taking the CFA exams and reaching for the charter may be different but there are some really strong reasons to stick with it. We covered a couple of reasons last week why you should keep studying for the CFA exams even if you fall behind. The biggest reason is that studying for the exams is really no different than the research and professional development you are going to be doing throughout your career. You will need to constantly update your skills and stay on top of recent news to be a good analyst. Mastering the CFA curriculum is one of the best sources you’ll find for professional education.
Three Perspectives on the Value of the CFA Charter
The CFA Institute posts six chartherholder profiles on the website and some really interesting stories of how others have found value in the CFA designation.
Rana Atallah, CFA of Kuwait points to the fact that many jobs are requiring the CFA charter as a prerequisite or at least a preferred status. Something that has been extremely important during recessions, Rana says she has had more flexibility and the charter provides her with more choices in terms of employment.
During the financial crisis, a lot of people found that having the charter meant the difference between keeping your job and being one of those cut. For those looking for a job, having the charter can make you more competitive though you’ll still need to prove yourself through experience and results.
Maria Kahane, CFA of France credits the tough CFA curriculum with helping to keep ahead of the fast-paced world of global finance. She speaks to the global acceptance and reputation of the charter with, “The charter is applicable wherever you are in the world; it’s the same questions if you’re in Hong Kong, if you’re in New York, if you’re in Paris. An it’s the only certification I know that has this global positioning.”
David Wellinghoff, CFA of Boston was able to use the CFA program to make the move from software engineer to a job in the financial industry…and he was able to do it in one of the most competitive times for employment, 2008. Besides helping to get his foot in the door by showing that he had the technical knowledge for a job in asset management, employers with the CFA designation understood the commitment it took to sit for the exams.
My own experience as a CFA Charterholder
My own experience as a CFA charterholder has been similar to some of the testimonials you’ll read on the internet. I earned the charter in 2011 and have worked as an independent analyst and financial writer since 2012.
It’s tough being an independent analyst (working on your own and selling research independently) and I’ve no doubt that having the CFA designation has helped me get assignments. I’ve had at least four clients over the last few years specifically tell me that they were interested in talking to me when they saw the designation.
Besides the credibility the charter has with employers, I benefited greatly from the breadth of the curriculum. Being able to talk on a variety of topics across different asset classes and investments helps me secure more projects and deliver on the task.
So even if you are struggling with the Level I CFA exam and that light at the end of the tunnel is just a distant speck, keep at it and you will see the benefits. Passing the CFA exams is no easy task but then we wouldn’t be doing it if it were easy. I’ve seen my share of easy certifications in the industry and the money ends up being a waste because they don’t have the same credibility as the CFA charter.
Stay strong, less than two months to the exam!
‘til next time, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA