While the CFA Program designation won’t guarantee you a job, it will make it easier to get your foot in the door
It’s always around this time of year that CFA Program candidates start wondering if all the work and all the studying is really worth it. The number of emails in my inbox asking if the CFA Program will help land a job in asset management increases and candidates lose focus on the exams.
First, don’t lose focus on your study plan and why you are taking the CFA Program exams. There’s just 11 crucial weeks left to the 2016 CFA Program exams and you’ll need every minute.
We all know that the CFA Program won’t guarantee you a job but it will make finding one and getting interviews easier. Beyond the jobs that require progress on the CFA Program, I’ve seen first-hand the benefit of having the designation when applying for positions.
Understand where to look for CFA Program jobs and some alternative ideas to quickly find the best opportunities.
Where to Look for CFA Program Jobs
The website eFinancialCareers crunched the numbers on 90,000+ resumes uploaded to their platform in 2014 and found some interesting facts on CFA Program jobs. More than 26% of the people looking for jobs in asset management had “CFA Program” listed on their resume. Other sectors of finance with a high amount of resumes featuring the term “CFA Program” were equities (25%), fixed-income (21%), research (21%), hedge funds (20%), M&A (17%), private banking (13%), and risk management (13%). It’s important to note that these included candidate resumes as well as charterholders and that this wasn’t necessarily hiring managers but job candidates within a sector.
The CFA Institute provides its own breakdown of where its nearly 124,000 charterholders are working with portfolio managers (22% of charterholders) claiming the overwhelming majority, followed by research analyst (15%), C-level executive (7%), consultant (6%), corporate financial analyst (5%), financial advisor (5%), risk manager (5%) and relationship manager (5%).
Where you look for CFA Program jobs will largely be determined by how far you’re willing to move for the right opportunity. If you’re only looking for jobs close to where you currently live, then your first stop should be the job boards of the companies in your area.
Go through a list of all the CFA charterholders in your local society to see where they are employed then visit the job board of each. Make a note of any contacts you know at the company as well as the charterholders that work there.
While you can use other internet sites to find local CFA Program job opportunities, the real benefit is in the ability to search globally for jobs. The CFA Institute Jobline is your first stop for global jobs requiring the CFA designation or candidacy. There are more than 2,030 jobs open from 155 employers and in just about every corner of the world. The search function on the site is fairly robust with the ability to search by keyword, country, region, category and type of job.
Beyond the Institute’s jobline, I’ve always found good listings on indeed.com as well but you’ll have to weed through more bogus jobs than on professional job boards. Set up an email alert for a few keywords like investment analyst, financial analyst and equity research.
Non-traditional Jobs for CFA Program Candidates
Beyond the traditional career path for CFA Program candidates, a lot of opportunities are opening up in freelancing and alternative finance. We highlighted the growing market for crowdfunding and peer lending analysts in a recent series of posts. The demand for analysts could boom as these forms of alternative finance become more mainstream and develop secondary markets. Being ready for the opportunities may mean being proactive enough to develop your own analysis framework or model to value investments in the two areas.
Freelancing analysis opportunities are increasing along with the internet age and companies’ need to cut costs wherever possible. You may need to work on building some practical skills if you haven’t any formal experience in financial modeling but this is fairly easy to do in a few months. Beyond equity analysis, I’ve found freelance jobs in consulting, whitepaper reports and general market commentary.
There’s no singular path through the perfect career and few careers are linear at the same employer or in the same sector of finance. You might start out freelancing but find you want to leverage it into a traditional job or after working in a traditional setting, you might decide you want the freedom of freelancing. Put together a picture of what you want to do and the career path to your dream job but be flexible.
‘til next time, happy studying
Joseph Hogue, CFA