Though acquiring a CFA is a laborious and lengthy task, the certification can hold significant advantages over an MBA for individuals interested in a long career in finance.
For many, the reason to work toward their certification is obvious – charterholders get paid more, according to Life on the Buy Side. It requires little financial expenditure in comparison to an MBA, and thus the return on investment is notable for those who are willing to put in the four years and 1,000 hours on average to earn the CFA.
The exams force individuals interested in investment to teach themselves the skills needed for a successful investing career through long hours of intensive study. For those who would like to earn an MBA in addition to the charter, Forbes noted that some schools, such as Cornell University, offer CFA tracks within their MBA programs. Some of these programs even end with a CFA Level 1 exam.
All the hard work is certainly worth it. Acquiring a CFA certification can open up numerous career paths in the industry. Here are three of the most popular jobs they hold in the investment sector.
Portfolio managers comprise about 22 percent of the global CFA chartered population, according to the institute. This is the most popular of the various professions found among charterholders.
The job of a portfolio manager is to carry out comprehensive research in order to make an investment decision for a fund or group of funds under his or her control, CNN explained. A typical day may include meetings with analysts, researchers and clients, reviews of the financial markets and buying and selling investments. The profession is growing, and is projected to expand 32.1 percent by 2020.
A research analyst’s job is to review publicly traded companies and, using their data, make recommendations on the firms’ securities, the Securities and Exchange Commission explained. These individuals are influential on today’s markets, since their investigations into securities often drive decisions – and subsequently stock prices. Typically analysts will fall into one of three categories: buy-side, sell-side or independent.
This is the second largest segment of charterholders, making up 15 percent of the CFA-qualified population, the institute reported.
The third largest group of charterholders are chief executives. The tasks of a CEO usually include establishing and implementing overall strategies, managing operations, serving as a conduit between the board of directors and the corporate operations and sometimes even serves on the board. The role of a CEO changes depending on the size and type of firm at which he or she is employed.
According to the CFA Institute, CEOs make up 7 percent of charterholders.
Some of the other professions that a CFA charter could lead to include investment banking jobs, financial advisors, risk managers, consultant and corporate financial analysts and accounting jobs. In the United States, the professional make-up of charterholders is fairly reflective of the global population. Portfolio managers comprise 22 percent of CFA-qualified professionals, followed by research analysts at 17 percent and CEOs at 7 percent.
Acquiring a charter doesn’t guarantee that you will get further in your career, however it is a stepping stone that can help you find success if utilized properly. For those willing to put in the work though, the skills you will learn and people you meet will put you in the position to prosper in the investment world.