Becoming a CFA Charter Holder
The CFA designation provides you with a better career prospect, promotion and getting higher salaries than peers, in addition to the rigorous curriculum which will fill any gap in your finance & investment knowledge and develop your professionalism.
Studying the CFA is a real challenge, it requires huge amount of time and effort to commit to it. It consists of 3 levels, each requires a minimum of 300 hours of study, so if you are willing to cut this time from your family, work, hobbies, and relaxation you can seriously consider the CFA, but if you don’t find the topics interesting and you’re not passionate about it, it’s better to step away from the CFA. To finish the 3 levels it will take you from 2 to 4 years to complete all 3 levels.
While the CFA is much cheaper than an MBA and much more recognized and respected among top employers such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, HSBC, Barclays, Citi Group, UBS as well as the big four auditing firms PWC, KPMG, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte, thus it is considered the gold standard of finance worldwide, it costs around $3000 to $4000 in exam costs only in addition to review courses which would range around $1000 if you decide to get prepared through a training provider and you feel you can’t study it on a self-study basis. Compare this cost to an MBA and you will find that the CFA is much more cheaper.
It could get much more costly due to exam retakes which is quite common due to the low pass rate of each level which is around 40 to 50% who pass the exam at the first attempt. One more cost to consider is the annual membership fees.
While no finance education nor a degree can guarantee you a job in the financial or investment industry, the CFA gives you a better opportunity of landing a job into one of the top ten banks, investment & asset management firms, advisory & consultancy firms, and big research houses, with 4% only of CFA holders who are not employed, there is a good chance that will secure a good job offer or shift your career.
Passing all 3 levels of the CFA doesn’t give you the title of a charter holder unless you possess a 4 year relevant experience in the investment field or finance and accounting, this experience could have been gained before you study the CFA, during your study, or after you finish the 3 levels.
Unlike any other specific designations the CFA is truly global wherever your career takes you all around the globe the CFA has its value.
Most CFA candidates and holders has careers as:
The CFA curriculum covers 10 topics:
- Ethics & Professionals
- Financial Reporting & Analysis
- Corporate Finance
- Quantitative Analysis
- Fixed Income Securities
- Equity Investments
- Alternative Investments
- Portfolio Management
Passing level 1, 2, and 3, each will give you exemptions from educational requirements such as the GMAT test, Finance and Economics subjects at MBA and Masters programs, and exemptions from some of the requirements of other professional designations, in addition to exemption from full or partial licensing requirements for investment and trading roles in almost all countries.
If you are passionate about it and think that it’s a good idea and valuable to you and your career, you can take the first step by starting your CFA journey, if not you can simply consider another route through reading some good books or taking some other financial courses.
By Ahmed Refaie, CEO, G.P.I. Global Partners Investments Limited, UK