8/28/12

This article is originally from 300Hours.com. You can read the full article here.

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'?


The Relevance of Your 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 who carry out 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:

  1. 3 professional sponsors, or 
  2. 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.

Comments (84)

8/28/12

Oh boy, then so far I have zero years of experience...yikes!

No contract means I have all the power. They want me, but they can't have me. - Don Draper

8/28/12

Correct me if I'm wrong. But isn't "qualifying work experience" loose as a goose for the CFA. I feel like I remember reading that somewhere. I mean I know you wrote out like a whole punch list rit there, but couldn't the right person artfully make being a cashier at a supermarket somehow "qualify".

GBS

8/28/12
GoldmanBallSachs:

Correct me if I'm wrong. But isn't "qualifying work experience" loose as a goose for the CFA. I feel like I remember reading that somewhere. I mean I know you wrote out like a whole punch list rit there, but couldn't the right person artfully make being a cashier at a supermarket somehow "qualify".

it's okay GBS, the world needs ditch diggers too

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

8/28/12
GoldmanBallSachs:

Correct me if I'm wrong. But isn't "qualifying work experience" loose as a goose for the CFA. I feel like I remember reading that somewhere. I mean I know you wrote out like a whole punch list rit there, but couldn't the right person artfully make being a cashier at a supermarket somehow "qualify".

I think that the most important part is the reference. The part they have to fill out is likely the real determinant of how credible your work experience is; I'm somewhat doubtful of the ability of a supermarket manager to sufficiently qualify your work experience such that it would meet the standards set by the CFAI.

in it 2 win it
8/28/12

There must be a lot of questionable applicants if people have to put this much thought into it. I think I included a one sentence description of my experience.

8/28/12

i think OP over thinking things.
i kept mine very simple and wrote 4 lines max and all my experience was approved

8/30/12

guess your experience is very relevant and concrete?

8/30/12
sadboy:

i think OP over thinking things.
i kept mine very simple and wrote 4 lines max and all my experience was approved

guess your experience is very relevant and concrete?

8/28/12

Lol, I was being somewhat facetious. My point was more or less that if you fall under the "business umbrella" (which is HUGE) you should be able to hack it. I would never ask my supermarket manager for a rec. Guys been mad at me ever since I requested to be moved from the register to bagging.

GBS

8/28/12
GoldmanBallSachs:

Lol, I was being somewhat facetious. My point was more or less that if you fall under the "business umbrella" (which is HUGE) you should be able to hack it. I would never ask my supermarket manager for a rec. Guys been mad at me ever since I requested to be moved from the register to bagging.

You requested a demotion?!?!? Bad move bro

8/28/12
illiniPride:

You requested a demotion?!?!? Bad move bro

Bagging has better exit opps imo.

GBS

8/28/12

I'm guessing I'll have some issues with my BO job (18 months) so just hoping I can spin it.

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."

8/28/12

Does assurance and auditing from a cpa firm count towards advisory services???

"Their analysts, they don't know preferred stock from live stock, alright."

8/28/12
CashIsKing100:

Does assurance and auditing from a cpa firm count towards advisory services???

Hi CashIsKing100, according to the CFA Institute, both assurance and auditing from a CPA firm may or may not count towards the said advisory services. This depends if your work experience is align with the requirement of 'at least 50 percent of your time is related to the investment decision-making process.'

The following examples are extracted from the CFA Institute:

Acceptable auditors experience
I performed financial statement audits of companies that carried significant assets and liabilities subject to fair value accounting. I assessed the reasonableness of the valuations and assumptions behind the valuations of those assets and liabilities.

Non-acceptable auditors experience
Review the internal control processes to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and recommend process improvements. Perform non-SOX-related financial and operational audits on businesses to identify control and process weaknesses and recommend process improvements.

Source: CPA Institute

8/29/12

how about sales n trading positions?

8/29/12

This thread could be awesome if you had a poll or statistic of what current CFA charter holders listed as their work experience.

Learn to LOVE Trump in less than 3 minutes:

8/30/12

is there anywhere i can send my experience for a review and see the chance of getting chartered? i'm from BO, so not confident if the way i wrote can make me qualified.

8/30/12
gottaexcel:

is there anywhere i can send my experience for a review and see the chance of getting chartered? i'm from BO, so not confident if the way i wrote can make me qualified.

Post it here?

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."

9/10/13

How do some people count ops toward their CFA work experience? It does not meet these criteria.

"It's very easy to have too many goals and be overwhelmed by them... The trick is to find the one thing you can focus on that represents every other single thing you want in life." -- @"Edmundo Braverman"

9/10/13

Alexander Hamilton:

How do some people count ops toward their CFA work experience? It does not meet these criteria.

Creative wording.

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."

8/18/16

I am a financial consultant for a top 20 public accounting firm in the risk advisory practice. I mostly do Project Management work for our projects (regulatory, compliance, internal audit) with Fortune 200 financial institutions. Does anyone know is this is considered "relevant work experience?"

8/18/16

9 months of my 4 years of work experience was barely relevant internships that I wrote 1-2 sentences about and it all got approved.

8/18/16
8/18/16

I've looked at that. However it's not too clear to me as to what is acceptable for insurance. I look at life insurance as an investment however not a security investment obviously.

8/18/16

Does your work affect the investment process on the front end?

8/18/16

no, needs to be an investment related role.

8/18/16

if you spin it the right way, maybe.

8/18/16

I heard it was if you "add value to the investment decision making process".

Check out analystforum.com for more help on CFA stuff.

8/18/16

And how would you do or spin that?

8/18/16

Or after getting my CPA could I go into corporate finance and work there for 3-4 years and be able to sit for the CFA?

8/18/16

internships do not count, only full time.

8/18/16

Good to know. Thanks!

8/18/16

It has to be in a financial advisory capacity, but operations people tend to be able to get it.

People will exaggerate their own tasks and the CFA Institute seems to be okay with it.

8/18/16

You need 4 years of finance experience...and the definition of finance has gotten pretty broad. I think the website has a list of approved professions that count. I even know people who are actuaries, etc. who have gotten the CFA so it's certainly not exclusive to investment management and related fields.

8/18/16

This is what the website says

Have a bachelor's (or equivalent) degree
- or be in the final year of your bachelor's degree program at the time of registration
- or have four years of professional work experience (does not have to be investment related)
- or have a combination of professional work and college experience that totals at least four years. Part-time positions do not qualify, and the four-year total must be accrued prior to enrollment.
- If you initially enroll/register as a final year undergraduate student with a degree in progress, you may not register for the Level II exam until you have earned your degree, or obtained professional work experience that meets the program's entrance requirements. At the time your degree is awarded, you may update your account education information to certify that your degree has been received.
Understand the professional conduct requirements (you will be asked to sign the Professional Conduct Statement and Candidate Responsibility Statement)
Be prepared to take the exams in English

So I doubt that we need 4 years of finance related work experience, I interpret it as 4 years of any full time work experience, even if it is law, general management etc. But I am not sure.

Anyone else who can comment if the work experience needs to be finance related or not. I have general management related work ex.

8/18/16

I think you guys are talking about two different steps. You have to have four years of investment advisory experience in addition to passing the three CFA exams to be a charter holder. The requirements you listed are for actually taking level one, which you do not have to have investment related experience for. Everyone is right.

8/18/16
judowned:

I think you guys are talking about two different steps. You have to have four years of investment advisory experience in addition to passing the three CFA exams to be a charter holder. The requirements you listed are for actually taking level one, which you do not have to have investment related experience for. Everyone is right.

So what type of 4 years work experience is required to be able to CFA level 1? Any kind? Even if blue collar (I don't have any blue-collar experience, I just curious)? And than what type of proof is required?

8/18/16
financialmanagement786:
judowned:

I think you guys are talking about two different steps. You have to have four years of investment advisory experience in addition to passing the three CFA exams to be a charter holder. The requirements you listed are for actually taking level one, which you do not have to have investment related experience for. Everyone is right.

So what type of 4 years work experience is required to be able to CFA level 1? Any kind? Even if blue collar (I don't have any blue-collar experience, I just curious)? And than what type of proof is required?

I don't think you're cut out for the CFA mate. Your basic comprehension skills need some work.

You need no experience to start the CFA charter, i.e. take Level I, but you do need 4 years of FT to become chartered once you've pasted all three levels, so if you pass all three with only 3 years of FT work in finance you wont gain those pretty letters after your name until you've completed your forth year in work.

"After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

8/18/16

analystforum
if you can make your contribution sound portfolio management like/consulting vs. buying/selling

8/18/16

what about back office? is that sufficient enough or not?

8/18/16
brusselsprouts:

what about back office? is that sufficient enough or not?

I don't think so. I think you have to have at least some experience on either the Sell-side or Buy-side aka FO.

Then again, I have never heard of a CFA L3 passee who worked in the BO..

8/18/16
rothyman:
brusselsprouts:

what about back office? is that sufficient enough or not?

I don't think so. I think you have to have at least some experience on either the Sell-side or Buy-side aka FO.

Then again, I have never heard of a CFA L3 passee who worked in the BO..

I know someone who still does back office JPM and got the designation

8/18/16
orangejulius:
rothyman:
brusselsprouts:

what about back office? is that sufficient enough or not?

I don't think so. I think you have to have at least some experience on either the Sell-side or Buy-side aka FO.

Then again, I have never heard of a CFA L3 passee who worked in the BO..

I know someone who still does back office JPM and got the designation

Like I said, I don't really know anyone with the designation who doesn't have FO experience, but I guess there are exceptions. I have a feeling they take it on a case by case basis. If your BO job involves you working with the FO a lot, I guess they could see that as acceptable experience.

8/18/16
rothyman:
orangejulius:
rothyman:
brusselsprouts:

what about back office? is that sufficient enough or not?

I don't think so. I think you have to have at least some experience on either the Sell-side or Buy-side aka FO.

Then again, I have never heard of a CFA L3 passee who worked in the BO..

I know someone who still does back office JPM and got the designation

Like I said, I don't really know anyone with the designation who doesn't have FO experience, but I guess there are exceptions. I have a feeling they take it on a case by case basis. If your BO job involves you working with the FO a lot, I guess they could see that as acceptable experience.

The back office guy works for the broker dealer reconciling account names for cleared securities. I also know some middle office guys in finance jpm that do the same thing, reconciling accounts, controls, etc and carry the designation.

8/18/16

It should be fine, just write about your work-ex from the stand point of being highly involved in the investment decision making process -- reading analyst reports, evaluating stocks, making decisions for individual accounts, etc. Stock broker isn't really a legit job, but it should be legit enough for the CFA.

8/18/16

I just took the self assessment test because I wanted to win at something today. It's all about the little wins in life.....

"After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

8/18/16

I don't think it matters how long it takes you to earn qualified work experience, and there are 3 levels of CFA (which you could've easily checked on cfainsitute.org).

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for freedom of thought which they seldom use.

8/18/16

Anihilist:

I don't think it matters how long it takes you to earn qualified work experience, and there are 3 levels of CFA (which you could've easily checked on cfainsitute.org).

Ok thanks. You definitely didn't understand my question on the levels though...

8/18/16

There is only 1 level of CFA. You're either a CFA or you're not. If you passed all 3 exams but don't have the experience required, you're not a CFA.

make it hard to spot the general by working like a soldier

8/18/16

Ah, sorry. Not familiar with CPA, so I guess I was wrong.

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for freedom of thought which they seldom use.

8/18/16

The CFA program consists of 3 exams. There are no "levels" of "having a CFA" or "being a CFA." You are either a CFA charter holder or you are not. The requirements to use the CFA charter are as follows: having successfully passed the program's 3 constituent exams, and having 48 months (4 years) of qualifying work experience, at any point in your career.

in it 2 win it
8/18/16

Kassad:

The CFA program consists of 3 exams. There are no "levels" of "having a CFA" or "being a CFA." You are either a CFA charter holder or you are not. The requirements to use the CFA charter are as follows: having successfully passed the program's 3 constituent exams, and having 48 months (4 years) of qualifying work experience, at any point in your career.

Great, thanks!

8/18/16

You can pass all 3 exams and not get the charter.

8/18/16

Beny23:

You can pass all 3 exams and not get the charter.

Yes - in case my response wasn't clear enough: you need to pass the exams AND have the work experience to use the charter.

in it 2 win it
8/18/16

Kassad:

Beny23:

You can pass all 3 exams and not get the charter.

Yes - in case my response wasn't clear enough: you need to pass the exams AND have the work experience to use the charter.

KK. This is what I was wondering. Thank you guys!

8/18/16

Is the CFA actually beneficial for getting an ER or some buy side job? Or is it more like an extra credential thing for those who are already working in the industry.

(in other words, does CFA help you break into industry)

8/18/16

Also - if CFA does help for breaking into ER, is having passed the 1st exam sufficient or do you need to pass all 3 exams for it to 'count' for employability purposes?

8/18/16

you need the work experience to get the charter

8/18/16

It seems that Level II helps you pass get better positions. Level I is not as hard so probably not as helpful.

8/18/16

I am a financial consultant for a top 20 public accounting firm in the risk advisory practice. I mostly do Project Management work for our projects (regulatory, compliance, internal audit) with Fortune 200 financial institutions. Does anyone know is this is considered "relevant work experience?"

8/18/16
4runneral:

I am a financial consultant for a top 20 public accounting firm in the risk advisory practice. I mostly do Project Management work for our projects (regulatory, compliance, internal audit) with Fortune 200 financial institutions. Does anyone know is this is considered "relevant work experience?"

Call the institute and ask. They're not going to note your file or anything like that. They're pretty helpful.

If it doesn't qualify, you can still state that you passed the three exams when applying for ER roles. It will absolutely help legitimize your candidacy for those roles, but is by no means a guarantee. Very common for people to pass level 2 or 3 and then move to a research role directly or segway into a product team, cap markets, etc for a year or two then to a research role.

Best Response
8/18/16

5 Jobs That Qualify as CFA Work Experience (Originally Posted: 09/26/2013)

This article is originally from 300Hours.com. You can read the full article here.

You may have racked up hours working odd jobs in college, and you know that those won't count toward your CFA work experience. But what about the other jobs you've held? Would being a teacher, for instance, be a usable work experience? How about the time you spent helping your mom keep financial records for her personal business?

These are tricky scenarios, because obviously each work experience is different, and there may have been a different amount of actual CFA-related time in even two jobs with similar titles at different companies or industries.

To help clear up those questions, here are five jobs that would qualify as CFA work experience. It's key for half your experience to be making actual investment decisions. Be as descriptive as possible when submitting your information. It's not acceptable to just write a few words or even just one sentence describing your duties. Go into detail and be extremely thorough. 1. Actuary An actuary who does projections and is in charge of cash flow analysis fits the work experience bill. Performing durational analysis of individual health insurance policies is also a good qualification, as all these tasks have a direct correlation with investments. 2. Consultant There are many kinds of consultants. If you've ever done management consulting for the financial services industry, that's great work experience, so long as you provide a very detailed account of your duties. Did you work with risk management functions or refine credit models covering a wide number of portfolios? Describe that work on your application. 3. Portfolio Manager portfolio management is excellent experience for the CFA exam. Emphasize how you rebalanced your clients' huge portfolios by trading short-term assets and pooling their other funds. Also discuss how you analyzed and evaluated client performance reports. 4. Securities Underwriter If you work at a company that provides risk analysis and financial planning for customers, chances are you did one of the following, all of which count as what you need toward the exam: Prepared financial models based on data from your client; participated in the decision-making process for assets; and analyzed value acquisition targets that your client had been eyeing. 5. Quantitative Investment Analyst Think of yourself as a financial engineer. With responsibilities including evaluating productive development and recommending asset allocations, this job gets you heavily involved in the decision-making process for your clients, which is hugely important for your CFA exam. Outline the sort of quantitative methods you used in your decision-making process and give the names of the tools that you employed. Again, you want to be as detailed as possible in these descriptions. If your current work experience does not fall neatly into one of the se 5, don't despair - you can read our guide to finding out what job experience is needed for the CFA charter. Or you can simply drop us a line at the 300 Hours Forum and we'll sort you out!

8/18/16

Does investment banking qualify?

What about valuation advisory in Big 4? i.e. goodwill impairment analysis and Purchase Price Allocations for financial reporting/audit purposes. This does not seem to be impacting investment decision but it is A) covered explicitly in the CFA syllabus and B) is valuation i.e. DCF, multiples etc.

8/18/16

Nice thanks for posting

8/18/16

I know people that have used time in public accounting (audit) in their WE requirements. Not all experience was PA, but maybe 2 of it was -- just have to spin it correctly (ie. assessed FV of assets, discounted CFs for impairments test, variance analysis, profitablity analysis, etc)

8/18/16

No it will not. There's a thread on here though that highlights some odd jobs that will qualify though.

make it hard to spot the general by working like a soldier

8/18/16

There are guidelines on the CFA website. In general, if you don't play some role in the investment decision making process you're going to have a difficult time spinning your work experience into something the CFAI will approve. If you acted purely as a real estate agent I doubt that is going to qualify.

8/18/16

Most likely not.

in it 2 win it
8/18/16

Thank you for the input. I have read the CFA guidelines and feel like I can create the necessary spin, but RE agents are on the very bottom of the food chain in the CFAIs eyes. Is there any punishment for having exp denied? and will they ask for tax returns to verify earnings?

8/18/16

There's no punishment for not having experience approved other than CFAI making you wait to obtain more work experience before you are awarded the charter. If you lie and get caught, that's different. You might end up never getting the charter.

Part-time work during college does not count for other professions (although full-time summer internships may), so the way other agents are paid shouldn't matter. You will be asked to provide position titles, dates, and a description of your responsibilities, not financial records.

8/18/16

Does anyone know where I can buy second hand books and materials for CCIM?
My wife is completing her MBA now, but the school does not have real estate classes.
So I'm looking for other ways for her to study this on her own.
Hence please let me know if you have CCIM materials that I can purchase from you.

FYI- This is all legal and covered under "fair use" the same as buying or selling a used textbook when you're in college. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine "The first-sale doctrine creates a basic exception to the copyright holder's distribution right. Once the work is lawfully sold or even transferred gratuitously, the copyright owner's interest in the material object in which the copyrighted work is embodied is exhausted. The owner of the material object can then dispose of it as he sees fit. Thus, one who buys a copy of a book is entitled to resell it, rent it, give it away, or destroy it."

8/18/16
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