You can find a lot of information on the internet telling you why you should attempt the CFA exams, but this usually comes from people who are trying to increase CFA enrollments. What you really need is people who’ve been through the process to tell you what are the actual benefits you are likely to receive are finishing these tough assessments.
Here’s a straight-to-the-point, frank list of reasons why a CFA could be useful to you. If you’re on the fence and seeking to know more, use this information to make a wise decision on whether this challenging set of exams is worth the effort.
1. It boosts your career in finance
Industry professionals- A CFA charter can be useful as a career enhancer if you’re already in finance, or to switch to a particular role. A CFA charter would particularly help in these roles:
- Research analysts
- Asset Management roles, including:
- Portfolio managers
- Private bankers
- Fund of fund managers
- Financial advisers
- Relationship managers
- Financial strategists
Non-investment professionals. Other professionals such as lawyers and accountants have also pursued the CFA. Quite often these are gained as complementary qualifications to broaden professional expertise. Not particularly crucial, but it does help.
Students. If you’re keen on being in banking, you may want to consider the CFA charter. If you can afford the time and money, it makes sense to add another notch to your CV, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it will magically bring you a job. As a student, knowing how to network and getting good work experience will work better in getting you a job in banking.
2. It’s affordable
The total cost of a CFA charter is variable depending on type of CFA notes you get and how many exams you end up taking, but it probably will range from $2,500 to $8,500.
That’s still pretty cheap as far as professional qualifications go. The CFA charter is more about the time commitment. It’s definitely affordable.
3. Gives you a very good background in finance
As everyone is aware, the CFA exams are hard.
And the reason is the CFA notes are very thorough and detailed. It’s not hard to understand, it about retaining the information from these CFA notes that seems to be challenging.
But it also means that if you succeed in obtaining the charter, you can be assured of a great, solid grounding in financial knowledge and expertise. The syllabus is also updated continually to account for recent innovations and events, so you’ll always be learning from the most recent experiences and discussions among industry experts.
4. International recognition
The CFA charter is amongst the most recognized professional qualifications in the financial world. The great thing about global recognition is that the CFA charterholder becomes more easily transferrable across markets. If you were planning on moving to Asia, for example, employers in Asia would also recognize your CFA charter earned in Europe.
It’s the exact same qualification, and candidates are earning their charters all over the world. Today about 100,000 charterholders are working in 130 countries worldwide.
5. You don’t have to decide between MBA and CFA
It all depends on what you want and your personal goals. If you wish to devour into the financial world the CFA exams would be your best bed. But if you want something outside of finances then MBA would be a better choice.
If you are obsessed with making your CV the best possible one you can go for both, no one can stop you.
6. It will make finding a job a lot easier
Don’t take this the wrong way, just having a CFA qualification does not guarantee you a job but it will make things a lot easier for you. Nothing you can put on paper is a sure fire way of landing a job. Getting hired is a multi-stage process. Your CV and networking skills gets you the interview, and the interview is what gets you the job. No amount of CV padding is going to replace interview skills so you need to address all steps to successfully score the job you want.
7. You will receive higher pay
Pay is a very tricky question to answer. There are numerous surveys on CFA member compensation, so you could go into the finer details of compensation of a typical CFA charterholder.
However there are some recent studies on comparing the effects of compensation of roles with and without the CFA charter – that is to say, studies that attempt to place a ‘monetary value’ on the CFA charter. The CFA Institute last covered this in their 2005 compensation survey, where the concluded that CFA charterholders’ median salary was 54% higher than non CFA charterholders (a median annual salary of $180,000 for charterholders vs $116,850 for non charterholders). This was a higher effect that even MBAs. But note that this was back in 2005, so make your own conclusions.
Ultimately, suffice to say that acquiring a CFA charter will open more opportunities in finance to you and make it easier for you to explore others. As a result you can expect your career to benefit from more flexibility and higher compensation compared to if you didn’t have a CFA charter.