Let’s face it: Most people want to get a CFA to stand out from the competition, and to earn more over their career. But those are just a couple of the ways that passing the exam can help you. Here are some of the other reasons why it’s worth taking on the challenge of becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Investment banking has been cooling down for some time, and now there is a wave of refugee i-bankers making the switch over to asset management. Having a CFA will help you with that move, and give you some real career insurance. As the journalist Sarah Butcher recently wrote, “Investment banking is not the future. . . . If you shift into asset management now, you won’t exactly be a first mover . . . . but you will at least be moving with the tide.”
Having “CFA” after your name makes it clear that you have made a significant commitment to continuously learning throughout your career—and this commitment pays off through increased job security. Because everyone is taking the same test as a qualification, CFA certifications are consistent across the board. This is different from MBA degrees, whose reputation and value in the market can vary a great deal depending on the institutions that awarded them—and the people behind them.
A CFA designation means that you’ve mastered a HUGE amount of material—ten topic areas and roughly 3,000 pages over six volumes are covered in the CFA Program Curriculum for each level. To say the least, not everyone has the dedication or time or ability to to do all the work. Passing the test makes it clear to the world (and yourself!) that you’re able to stick to ambitious goals—and that you have a strong grounding in all those topics. As one commenter put it, “the most valuable thing you get via passing the programme is […] additional knowledge. [The] CFA programme gives you more insight in various aspects of investment world and make you a more all-round professional, strengthening certain skills.”
Finance is a very competitive place right now, and employers can be highly selective at every stage of the hiring process—and even beyond. Showing that you’ve chosen to make such a large investment in your own career will help you stand out from the crowd. And everything else being equal, it can even help you compensate for other gaps you may have in your experience.
Love it or hate it, networking, or as we like to think of it, “getting to know the most interesting and fascinating people who work in your industry,” is a critical part of modern life—and there’s no sign it’s ever going to get less important. In addition to the loads of local and national networking possibilities that are available online, the CFAInstitute also holds conferences throughout the year. And since the CFA is the gold standard when it comes to qualifications that will get you noticed in the world of finance, the CFA designation can open doors at an international level, too—it’s in 145 countries at this point.