Should I continue pursuing the CFA designation?

Hey all,

I wanted to get your thoughts/feedback on studying for the CFA. Previously, I've spent quite some time on the asset management and capital markets side where a CFA mattered. I have studied the level 2, but I've yet to pass it. More recently, I'd made a lateral into commercial real estate where the CFA is less likely to impact my career. Should I continue the CFA designation or spend the time doing something else? My main goals for the CFA is to allow room for flexibility and if I want to jump back into asset management one day. Another is to hopefully improve salary growth. What're your thoughts? Thanks.

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Comments (13)

Dec 21, 2018

Totally personal. Obviously not required for real estate.

Benefits of finishing it are 1) pedigree / proving intelligence, 2) personal fulfillment, 3) intellectual curiosity, and 4) thinking about the world more broadly which can help later on when interfacing with capital partners who aren't solely focused on RE.

Downside is that it is a) a time suck, b) won't get you promoted, c) unnecessary, and d) time you could spend networking and interacting with others in the market.

Weigh those along with your desire for career flexibility (I'm dubious how much flexibility you'll really have after time in real estate but who knows...) and decide for yourself.

    • 1
Dec 21, 2018

Thanks for the response. It possibly won't get me promoted, but is it fair to say while searching for a new role in the future, I'll have more credibility getting a more senior role? Also, what if I have no plans to actively network with others. I'm just having trouble understanding what my time would be better off spent doing rather than going for extra credentials.

Dec 21, 2018

If you have no plans to actively network with others, you are in the wrong business. When you are interviewing for more senior roles, people care about your track record and ability to source deals (at least in acquisitions). An MBA or CFA is a nice to have but isn't essential and certainly won't get you hired if you can't make it rain.

TLDR, no one really cares about credentials, your ability to create new business, usually through relationships, is much more important as you become more senior.

    • 1
Jan 3, 2019
thetakeover:

Thanks for the response. It possibly won't get me promoted, but is it fair to say while searching for a new role in the future, I'll have more credibility getting a more senior role?

No

thetakeover:

Also, what if I have no plans to actively network with others. I'm just having trouble understanding what my time would be better off spent doing rather than going for extra credentials.

Your network and your deal sheet are all that exist in this business. Those are the two things you should spend time on. Yes, learning new trends and new ideas is valuable, but only in terms of your own knowledge base and personal growth.

    • 1
Dec 21, 2018

Will your work pay for it? Will you actually work hard enough to study and pass without spending years redoing it?

If you don't have to pay for it and can get it done in 1.5 years, it is fun to have initials after your name. It's not going to be a ton of extra value in real estate.

Don't waste time studying if you are going to fail multiple times.

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Dec 21, 2018

Still figuring out if my work will pay for it. I think my current role has a bit of flexibility to allow me to complete it, which is why i'm considering it. I've seen some managers at REITs and REPE firms with a CFA, so it can't be totally irrelevant right?

Dec 21, 2018

It's not really focused on that type of role. The CFA is entirely focused on a portfolio manager point of view.
It actually is mostly focused on a portfolio manager of a portfolio investing in a range of investment types.

Because of this, the focus on an particular asset class is light, it is more about managing them together as one portfolio.

Real estate is particularly a small segment, the tests only even have a single real estate question once every few years.

It's beneficial in that knowing a little bit about the rest of the finance and investing world can be helpful, but the designation itself isn't going to get you a lot of jobs.

It's probably most beneficial if you have a limited background in finance, for example if you were a math or egineering major in college.

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Dec 21, 2018

I think intellectual curiously can be explored in less time consuming and more interesting ways.

I take a hard stance on the CFA for RE topic. That stance is a firm no. It's simply just not time well spent. Return on effort does not make sense.

Dec 21, 2018

CFA is very nice if you are determined to get it
It is very time consuming and pretty difficult

Jan 3, 2019

Good to have but not necessary.

I went for it mainly because I had extra time at night at my previous company and they paid for all tests/materials (plus gave a small passing bonus/test). I passed I and II on my first attempts but failed L3 this past June. I interviewed at a bunch of REPE shops and the opinions was pretty lame - IMO its because a lot of these PE guys were former IB analysts who simply did not have the time to study.

After recently switching over to the principle side I still contemplate whether it's worth the countless hours to retake the exam despite being so close.

    • 1
Jan 3, 2019

It is quite nosense thinking about CFA just as a stamp on your cv while the most relevant things about studying and obtaining the CFA are represented by the knowledge you gain and the analytical-attitude you get during the path.

1) If you already know what is taught in CFA books you probably do not need it
2) If you are a museum guide without any interest in finance you do not need to get it

BUT
1) If studying it could represent some knowledge increasing factor in your job area
2) If you work in business and finance and you think that CFA can be a possibility to increase job opportunities and success

THEN, why not studying it??

In the same way hence, why do u need a bachelor or an MBA?!?! Answering "because the job market demands it" is completely poor from an intellectual point of view and would show a sort of human-superficiality.

Like any other thing in the world (also risk-reward in financial mkts) what demands effort also gives best rewards.

Jan 3, 2019

In the same boat here. Been on my first gig (RE) out of postgrad for a few months now but have already taken the plunge on the CFA. Like the potential for flexibility in the short term plus my alma mater isn't exactly a target.

Not too high, not too low

Jan 3, 2019