This is probably the first thing that pops in one’s mind before taking up this exam- Is CFA worth it?

Apart from the cost, it is actually the time and the effort it requires to become a CFA and that is why these questions come to mind – Should I really peruse it? Does it really pay off in the end?

Let’s find out. 

I researched a lot on Quora, Reddit, analyst form and many other platforms to gain an insight as to what other Charterholders have to say about pursuing CFA as a career option and to what extent has it helped them in their careers.

And the result is just like any other thing, there is the good and there is the bad. So let’s try and cover both the experiences and try to get a very clear picture on CFA as a career option, by the end of this article. I will also share my personal views on CFA and what I would recommend to the ones planning to take up CFA.

THE GOOD!

First of all, going by the data and the statistics the good reviews outnumbered the bad reviews by a mile. So this clearly helps and gives the article a good start and for those, who are already half way in the course I can imagine how glad you must be after reading this, because I was in a similar spot not very long back. 

Just to give you a glimpse I’m sharing some of those reviews from those platforms with you here:

  • “Putting all those hours and those sleepless nights and the countless coffees have all been worth it when I look at the CFA designation before my name”
  • “ It is safe to say that CFA designation is treated with respect in the industry”
  • “One of the greatest moments of my life was being awarded as a charter”
  • “All of the knowledge I gained through CFA is coming to work now”
  • “I’m working as an analyst now with one of the largest investment banking firm and I don’t think I would have made it here without CFA”

So as you can see, most of them are very much satisfied with their decision of taking up CFA as their career choice.  There were many other reviews stating how it helped them move up the ladder and because of the recognition some were able to start their own venture, as being a CFA gave the clients somewhat satisfaction and trust towards them. I would say about 90% of the reviews were in the favor of choosing CFA as a career option, and that it helped them build their career in the financial industry. 

THE BAD!

Although the negative comments were only a fraction in comparison to the good ones but there were a couple of bad ones as well. This is only natural, everything has a mixed review and just like everything else CFA also does. Let me share some of the negative comments also, again picked up from the above mentioned platforms: 

  • “CFA does not guarantee you a prestigious finance job”
  • “I don’t think CFA had any major impact on my career as a finance executive”
  • “The exams were very brutal and it was not worth all that effort”

These were some of the ones who don’t really appreciate CFA and that it was not worth all that effort and time and money. Some of the reviews were completely baseless and meaningless in my opinion, for example- let’s take the first one stating that being a CFA dose not guarantee a finance job. This is applicable in every field, does MBBS guarantee a doctor? and does LLB guarantee you a lawyer? This is applicable in every field, the courses are only to prepare your base and clear the fundamentals rest all is up to an individual as to what one does with that knowledge and how one creates a difference with it. If perusing a course would guarantee a lucrative job everyone would jump into that.     

MY PERSONAL OPINION!

I’m a CFA Charterholder and am working as an analyst with a boutique Investment Banking firm. Now you might say that my opinion will be biased in favor of CFA given I’m a CFA myself. But I will try to be as true to you as I can be.

In my opinion CFA as a career option should only be chosen if you are really passionate about finance, numbers, investments and capital markets. 

CFA does a very good job in terms of imparting knowledge on various asset classes on an in depth level, I would say. The part which CFA does not cover is the practical approach and what actually happens in a finance job.

Does being CFA will make you an expert stock picker? Obviously no, that will come over the years. You will go through multiple business cycles and understand what works and what does not, and over the period you will gain that expertise. But will CFA help you in that process in understanding the basics and fundamentals? Definitely yes.

In terms of a lucrative Finance job, just being a CFA won’t land you anywhere. It’s the skills along with it which will help you get there. Some of the skills I would say would be financial modeling, Power point presentation (PPT) skills, effective communication, staying up to date with the industry news about what’s happening around the globe and how all that is affecting capital markets.

I hope this article will help you make an informed decision.

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