In the whole CFA process, passing the 3 exams is without question the hardest part of the entire shebang. But if you're anything like me, once you got the pesky business of the damn exams out of the way, you might wonder where's the frigging charter? How do you get it? I was too busy focusing on passing Level II and III that I never really bothered to think about this part.
Fortunately, once you pass your exams, the process of getting your charter is relatively straightforward - providing you have the relevant work experience. 4 years' worth of it, in fact.
Now, seriously, what on earth is 'relevant work experience'?
To qualify as a regular member and the right to use the CFA designation, you will need 48 months of relevant work experience. These can be accrued from any previous position, and do not have to be continuous. The criteria for work experience to be considered relevant is as below.
At least 50% of your work experience must be:
- Directly involved in the investment decision-making process
- Engaged in responsibilities and/or producing a work product that informs or adds value to that process
What does this really mean?
#1. Job titles are not sufficient. You must include specific details about your job responsibilities. Reread the work experience points above - the specific details should address these as much as possible.
#2. Enter only positions that qualify as acceptable work experience. No need to include your blissful 2 years in McDonalds.
#3. Write a cover letter. You have to treat your work experience application akin to writing a cover letter for a job application - i.e. remember to highlight parts of your role to emphasize its relevance to what CFA Institute is looking for.
#4. You must be helping people decide how to invest. The goal is to demonstrate that your work contributes to investment decision-making processes. You don't necessarily have to be the one making the decisions. But if decisions depend on your work in some way, be it your research, your analysis, or some other form of counsel, then you have a fair chance.
#5. Teaching & supervising also counts. If you're in a full-time position which teaches the core skills required, or involves supervising those whoout the responsibilities as detailed above, this qualifies as well.
#6. Part-time positions do not count. Any work experience must be full-time. Internships also do not qualify as work experience.
#7. Managing your own investments does not qualify. So does running investment clubs, managing your family/friends' investments, and so on. You need professional experience, i.e. you do this for a living.
Bonus Tip #8: And Now, A Word From Your Sponsors.
Bear in mind that you will also need professional sponsors as references. 'Professional' means that these are people that can attest to you and your work in a professional setting. So no Aunt Elma references please.
These can be one of the following:
- 3 professional sponsors, or
- 2 professional sponsors, of which one is a current, regular member of the local CFA society you are applying to
It is also highly preferred if one of your sponsors is your current supervisor.
Your references will be emailed instructions on how to complete a reference for you. This should take no more than an hour to fill out.
With all these tips in mind it should be a straightforward process to getting your work experience requirements sorted out! Of course, you actually need to be in suitable roles for all this to apply - if your experience is fundamentally unsuitable, you'd be out of luck.
Got any tips or experiences to share? Let me know in the comments below.