How to answer - “Why CFA?”

illini29's picture
Rank: Baboon | 132

I know CFA is mainly for equity research and fixed income research roles, as it is heavily pushed in those fields, but what about other fields such as real estate?

I know IBD isn't crazy about it, but you can't say it is irrelevant.

My personal view, and I know some may disagree, is that it provides incredible foundations for the material. I am a fan of the program and it certainly helps expand my knowledge of several different areas in finance. I began doing it while I was in undergrad, passing L1, and now I'm going after L2.

How would you guys answer the question of "why CFA?"

Would you leave it off the resume for roles that don't place emphasis on it?

For me, the answer is clear: "I want to join the workforce, but continue my education through self study on my own time. I believe that the CFA program offers tools that can be used across several industry's and add value you the team/firm"

How good is that answer?

Sometimes I get the feeling that the prospective employer is cautious and fears I will jump ship immediately after clearing all of the exams. While it isn't untrue, I am certainly going after some of the more analytical RE roles.


Comments (15)

May 21, 2018

That's fine. For sure leave it on; there is need to be weird about it. Most people will respect it and your intellectual horsepower

May 21, 2018

Do you think it can help at all in other finance fields besides ER, FI, Investment Consulting?

Will it benefit me in RE for example? If I am correct, in a lot of fields (IB, PE, etc) it's not that it doesn't matter it just isn't really pushed. Plus, they work long hours.

May 21, 2018

Won't help you a lick in the blocking and tackling of real estate, but it will help you in the sense that the knowledge you acquire going through the program will make you a more proficient investment professional. You may be better off putting 300 hours into drinking beer and playing golf (i.e. networking) than pursing the CFA.

You'll likely never get paid anymore for it, so do it because you want to, because you sure as shit don't have to have it.

May 22, 2018

That seems like a solid answer, I would add the element you mentioned before in that you wanted to expand your financial knowledge to be more broad and that you enjoy challenging yourself so you took initiative.

Clearly the CFA program and knowledge you are learning from it is interesting and passionate to you and have value so I would definitely include it. Although the technical applicability may be limited, any leader will respect and see value in your initiative to learn on your free time and continue to advance yourself.

That being said, I admittedly do not know the specifics of the technical knowledge included in the CFA but as someone who currently leads underwriting at a REPE firm the financial modeling and concepts are quite basic (relative to M&A and corporate finance) so although it will help differentiate you I would not come out of this expecting even financially intensive roles to value the technical knowledge as much as you do.

May 22, 2018

"Because it is the absolute highest tier of fast food."

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May 22, 2018

I swear, the CFA sauce is like crack

May 24, 2018

Respect for tackling L2, it's a beast so best of luck this June. I am sitting for L3 this summer and recently started at a top 50 PERE shop (came from sell-side ER where CFA was "highly encouraged"). At this point, I'd be dumb to not finish and get the fancy letters. I can tell you off the bat that CFA is pretty uncommon in CRE, but it certainly demands respect. In my interview, my now-boss told me "CFA huh? You'll be the smartest guy in the room for sure". The nitty gritty of CFA do not carry over to CRE much (ethics, fixed income valuation, derivatives...), but I do think the high-level concepts of portfolio management certainly apply to the real estate realm and will make you a more polished and intelligent investor. So stick with it. It's one of those things that can only help you as you navigate your career.

May 25, 2018

More investment knowledge is better than less investment knowledge. However, as @Count_Chocula, your 900+ hours would be better spent doing almost anything else if you want to succeed in real estate.

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May 30, 2018

CFA may give you an edge if you are going into portfolio management in real estate where you will be far removed from the asset but honestly real estate is it's own animal, you will be better off trying to understand the legal lingo and meaning behind PSA, loan docs, development FAR, affordability, partnership structures and LP/GP levels


Feb 3, 2019