Should I do the CFA?

Current MSc student in Finance.

I feel like doing the CFA could be doable since I'm bathing in finance stuff right now. However, I feel like once I'll land a job I won't feel the necessity to keep going for the Level 2 & 3.

What would you do?

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (50)

Jan 10, 2022 - 11:08am

it's tent stakes (and hard AF) at some point it'll be more glaring if you don't have it than if you do in AM.  The one guy in my old department who didn't had a MS in financial Maths and had put out the biggest junk bond ETF.

The only difference between Asset Management and Investment Research is assets. I generally see somebody I know on TV on Bloomberg/CNBC etc. once or twice a week. This sounds cool, until I remind myself that I see somebody I know on ESPN five days a week.
Jan 10, 2022 - 11:16am

Whatever1984

it's tent stakes (and hard AF) at some point it'll be more glaring if you don't have it than if you do in AM.  The one guy in my old department who didn't had a MS in financial Maths and had put out the biggest junk bond ETF.

We went to mediocre colleges and I was dead last in my (very good) HS class nobody ever argued that I wasn't the smartest kid in the room though

The only difference between Asset Management and Investment Research is assets. I generally see somebody I know on TV on Bloomberg/CNBC etc. once or twice a week. This sounds cool, until I remind myself that I see somebody I know on ESPN five days a week.
Jan 10, 2022 - 11:09am

I think it is ultimately up to you and where you want to end up.  I personally feel like the CFA is for people who need to prove that they are smart - not necessarily that are.  

Most Helpful
Jan 10, 2022 - 11:51am

It all depends on the market you want to work in (asset class and geography) !

I also did my MSc Finance, and it was easy to do once everything is fresh..CFA is mostly a bachelor in finance all mashed up in one exam per year..not as complicated/specialized as a MSc in Finance
I used to work in portfolio management and honestly every PM had a CFA title so I did. It's a must in this domain..

Moreover, It really helped me when I switched to another asset class (REPE, 7 years ago), because it showed my overall financial versatility..and the hiring manager was confident I could step in and catch the job pretty quickly..In REPE or PE, most "institutional" firm ask for the CFA..but other smaller firm don't ask for it..or ask it as a kicker..
Hope this helps

DC
  • 4
Jan 11, 2022 - 12:54am

CFA is definitely much harder than a MSC xD I think Level 1 is harder and requires more knowledge than a MSC. CFA is its own beast. I've known bankers and MBA who barely studied and bombed level 1. Now imagine Level 2 which is on steriods compared to Level 1.

Array
Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Jan 12, 2022 - 10:02am

I guess it all depends on how quantitative the Msc Fin program is..because my MSc was super quant..The CFA curriculum asksyou to know the formula not to backproof them mathematically. The Msc fin. pushes the content by a couple of notches.

When I did my CFA charter 10 years ago and my Msc 11 yrs ago, I did CFA 1 right after school with only 1 month of review..honestly it was easy

I agree that CFA 2 was a beast and by far the hardest of the 3, I didn't like the pension fund accounting part of it.. ;)

DC
  • 2
Jan 10, 2022 - 12:25pm

The Prospect

Current MSc student in Finance.

I feel like doing the CFA could be doable since I'm bathing in finance stuff right now. However, I feel like once I'll land a job I won't feel the necessity to keep going for the Level 2 & 3.

What would you do?

You don't list many reasons why you need the CFA charter.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jan 10, 2022 - 1:12pm

My friend passed Level 1 and 2 on the first attempt and then had to take Level 3 four times to pass. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
Jan 10, 2022 - 5:27pm

Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎

My friend passed Level 1 and 2 on the first attempt and then had to take Level 3 four times to pass. 

The same thing happened to a former colleague of mine.  He was an equity analyst at the time.   

Jan 10, 2022 - 1:09pm

You have not mentioned much about yourself or your career path.  If you have an IVY league background, you probably do not need it.  If you have a non target background and want to work in asset management, then it would be a good idea to pursue becoming a CFA charterholder.  The CFA exams can be challenging and so the effort involved in passing them is substantial.  You do not want to study hundreds of hours unless pursuing the designation it is going to help you in your career.

  • 2
Jan 10, 2022 - 7:47pm

I'm on the fence about it too, I've delayed it a twice for family-related reasons but the sheer amount of study time is really going to suck ass and idk if it's even worth it to be honest.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Jan 10, 2022 - 10:36pm

Lets not lie, it's half a year of full-time work. I was sitting for the Institute ESG cert two weeks ago at 60 Broad and chuckling about the guys freaking out about the SIE & 7. yeah, if you get it it says you're smart.  Everything else (CIMA, CFP but maybe not the FRM) is tent stakes

The only difference between Asset Management and Investment Research is assets. I generally see somebody I know on TV on Bloomberg/CNBC etc. once or twice a week. This sounds cool, until I remind myself that I see somebody I know on ESPN five days a week.
Jan 10, 2022 - 8:44pm

Bruh L2 studying sucks - good luck

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jan 11, 2022 - 1:31am

Basically mandatory in AM. I'm expecting around 240h (223h @ 96%, ethics left atm) to fully go through the material in their online study center. Tack on another ~10-15 for the four 2 hour mocks they have and another 10 to revise formulas closer to exam date. This is for level 1 btw, have mine in February '22 and I enrolled in August '21. I graduated with a masters in quant econ this past June, so you would think that I'd also be fresh on the material, but the reality is that there are a lot of specific ad hoc cases they bring to every topic that they then question you on. While I'm one of the ppl fully reading the material, I know people have fared well in their performance in mocks and questions sets by using a Qbank and some sort of material summary. 

Jan 11, 2022 - 9:06am

Honestly the best thing I did was hitting the ethics stuff hard on L1.  It's not easy (tough to think ethics isn't easy but they ask edge case stuff) It's the only material that's the same all three levels, and there are rumors they secretly use it as a decider for marginal passing scores.  That last bit might be an old wives tail, but why chance it?

The only difference between Asset Management and Investment Research is assets. I generally see somebody I know on TV on Bloomberg/CNBC etc. once or twice a week. This sounds cool, until I remind myself that I see somebody I know on ESPN five days a week.
  • 2
Jan 11, 2022 - 4:43pm

Yeah CFA Ethics is challenging. The CFAI is a master of their crafty way of testing. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jan 14, 2022 - 12:38pm

Yeah Qbank is the shit

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jan 11, 2022 - 8:03pm

Agree with everyone else, depends on your career path. AM will absolutely want to see it. IB, PE, etc will not give one shit about it.

Array

Jan 12, 2022 - 8:23am

CFA is trashed on this site but it is absolutely worth it. Speaking as a current MSc student as well, I had no internships during undergrad and only completed level 1 then level 2 immediately after.

I'll be interning at a large AM company this summer. Absolutely wouldn't be possible without CFA

Jan 13, 2022 - 7:22am

retard

CFA is trashed on this site but it is absolutely worth it. Speaking as a current MSc student as well, I had no internships during undergrad and only completed level 1 then level 2 immediately after.

I'll be interning at a large AM company this summer. Absolutely wouldn't be possible without CFA

I was surprised when I first saw the mixed reviews on here about becoming a CFA charterholder.  That is because my background is in asset management and many people on WSO work in other areas of finance which do not put a high value on it.  In addition, some negative views here might be related to people doing the studying and then failing, which can be a hit to the ego, especially for people who went to elite schools.  

  • 1
Jan 12, 2022 - 10:38am

Do it only if you want to do AM (and helps with related exits like IR or moving upstream into allocation)

Otherwise it's not worth the squeeze. Trust me, putting in close to 1k hrs of your life (or more) is no fun

Jan 13, 2022 - 2:49am

Passed CFA L2 / MS Financial Math / Quant here. If you have the time, need, and personality then go for it. Time component - grueling hours after work studying (or during coursework if you are in school). You will make sacrifices for loved ones and friends. CFA is a marathon, not a spring. 3 levels will take a minimum of few years to accomplish, not including the work component of it.Need - I took the CFA route because I never built a proper finance background (undergrad in math). There are so many different asset classes, components to each of them, and models that the CFA will help you touch upon each of them and be well rounded. It gives you a financial mindset in terms of portfolio management and valuation, and enhances skills in other area (econ, alternatives, etc.). In AM it is useful if you ever want to manage money as more of a title than the knowledge. It guarantees some baseline knowledge about someone because it's possible but hard to fake your way into passing these exams.Personality - grit, perseverance, the whole lot of similar words you can think of. You'll need these traits. If you don't have what it takes to grind and fail and get back up, don't do it, otherwise you'll just be disappointed in the end and be a large waste of time. You are responsible for your own study schedule and routine, no one else. Self-study type person is a must.If you can confidently and honestly say to yourself you hit these 3 criteria and are ready for a challenge, go for it! It's a great learning experience and brings out a totally different side of yourself when you see your progress. Good luck!

Jan 15, 2022 - 9:38am

Transcending

CFA L2 candidate / MS Financial Math / Quant here. If you have the time, need, and personality then go for it. 

Time component - grueling hours after work studying (or during coursework if you are in school). You will make sacrifices for loved ones and friends. CFA is a marathon, not a spring. 3 levels will take a minimum of few years to accomplish, not including the work component of it.

Need - I took the CFA route because I never built a proper finance background (undergrad in math). There are so many different asset classes, components to each of them, and models that the CFA will help you touch upon each of them and be well rounded. It gives you a financial mindset in terms of portfolio management and valuation, and enhances skills in other area (econ, alternatives, etc.). In AM it is useful if you ever want to manage money as more of a title than the knowledge. It guarantees some baseline knowledge about someone because it's possible but hard to fake your way into passing these exams.

Personality - grit, perseverance, the whole lot of similar words you can think of. You'll need these traits. If you don't have what it takes to grind and fail and get back up, don't do it, otherwise you'll just be disappointed in the end and be a large waste of time. You are responsible for your own study schedule and routine, no one else. Self-study type person is a must.

If you can confidently and honestly say to yourself you hit these 3 criteria and are ready for a challenge, go for it! It's a great learning experience and brings out a totally different side of yourself when you see your progress. Good luck!

Your point about faking your way through is exactly right. Bullshitting and donating is not going to help you pass CFA exams.  In order to pass CFA exams, either you are very smart or very disciplined about studying for exams or both.  You can't donate 50 million to the CFA institute to buy the CFA charter. In contrast, it is possible to donate large sums of money to get into an elite college.  

  • 1
Jan 14, 2022 - 11:59am

Cupiditate in itaque omnis. Ex cupiditate facere minima laudantium odio debitis commodi. Voluptatum sunt rem eligendi animi quod modi rerum. Provident aut sit distinctio magni molestiae.

Provident voluptas nisi impedit iste at unde voluptatem. Aperiam delectus voluptatum qui vel ducimus. Alias repudiandae molestiae fuga quae. Quos placeat harum enim.

thots & prayers

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

January 2022 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (7) $1,977
  • Vice President (24) $388
  • Associates (153) $243
  • 2nd Year Analyst (87) $156
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (15) $150
  • Intern/Summer Associate (65) $144
  • 1st Year Analyst (297) $142
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (226) $90