What actual jobs does the CFA get people?

As someone who's a bit further along in my career, and who's worked in multiple areas (IB, asset management, PE, VC) I get a lot of younger folks asking me for career advice.

One question I'm getting a lot the last few years is "so I just got my CFA, now what do I do with it?" 100% of the time these are juniors who already work in some sort of asset management or wealth management role, and they took the CFA to "open doors". Exactly what doors, they weren't sure, but they liked the idea of opening doors so off they went to get a CFA.

I don't have a CFA but I'm familiar with the material. To me, the material seems a mile wide and an inch deep; great coverage for a non-finance person trying to learn finance, but not designed to take someone to an advanced level in any particular sub-area of finance.

So I'm not sure what to tell these kids who are already working in asset/wealth management what doors are supposed to now open for them. What specific doors have people been able to open thanks to their CFA? Would love to hear examples.


Comments (7)

Feb 28, 2019

I have mine, and in my opinion, it doesn't 'open doors' as much as it 'keeps doors open'. I think it's kind of expected table stakes for a lot of jobs in asset management, wealth management, insurance investing, equity research, insurance investment management, etc. The information doesn't really make anyone a great investor, but at the very least it gives you a background in most topics and provides a good starting base off which to grow, depending on which path you take (equities, fixed income, insurance, pensions, personal wealth management, derivatives, etc). It also helps equity guys not sound like complete idiots when talking to fixed income or pension guys, vice-versa, etc.

I'd be curious to hear of any actual examples of "charter got me X job". My initial guess is there aren't a lot of those. Unfortunately, it's not THAT hard to get if you want to give up ~3 years of your life to studying, so prestige is falling a bit in my view.

Feb 28, 2019

Thanks. Expected table stakes is a good way of putting it. I should have mentioned in the OP, I always thought the best use of CFA would be for someone to round out their skills in the job they already have, like your example of equity guy who wants to sound smarter on debt.

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Mar 28, 2020

You can make that argument that "it's not that hard to get something you just need to put in the time" for everything. It's not hard to be a rocket scientist if you study math each and every day for many years. The exam is really challenging and the amount of information that you need to retain for it is insane.

OP, CFA definitely helps with getting interviews and cool front office jobs. Passing level 1 helped me tremendously and helped me get my first role in front office. I'm sure that once I pass level 2 I'll have even more firms reach out to me for interviews.

Jan 31, 2020

Man you CFA folk are some of the biggest haters around. Can't even help one of your fellow charter holders without getting MS.

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Most Helpful
Feb 1, 2020

Here ya go: My Charter got me my job.

Half a decade ago I was wandering around in the wilderness of WM as part of an odd financial planning as an employee benefit group. A friend who had broken out to become an external wholesaler at an indy shop called me to say that their technical guy had left. I interviewed and they liked me, and also that they could hire me for cheap, especially compared to other Charterholders. (it was a 50% raise for me) I got an offer less than 24 hours after the interview, and the only sticking point was that I insisted on giving the old job two weeks notice. Five years and several mergers later, and I'm designing product for one of the biggest shops on the street.

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Mar 29, 2020

CFA by age 24 here. I will answer this later.
the guy who posted the Q, and the back to front office guy are on the right track. except passing L2 won't provide much incremental perceived value from the value of your current situation.
it all comes down to JOB SKILLS SPECIFIC TO THE ROLE

Mar 29, 2020