Working Full-Time vs CFA®

My 2021 Trade-off: Working full time starting from Jan 2021 or rather studying for the CFA® to complete Level 1 (in Feb 2021) and Level 2 (in Aug 2021)?

What would you do?

I have just graduated (MSc) and I believe If I will start working full-time I might not be able to pass the CFA® exams (because this job will keep me busy from 8am till 8pm). So I am thinking to go for the CFA® and then start new job applications after Aug 2021 (hopefully with a CFA® level 2 pass I will have more credentials to get a better job/internship with top banks in investment research and/or portfolio management). What is your opinion on this?

I am also wondering if I could be able to apply for internships starting in 2022 if I have graduated in Dec 2020? or big banks would rather consider 2021 graduates?

Thank you!

Comments (12)

Dec 26, 2020 - 8:28pm

Good advice. SB'd

Work experience > CFA.

I think on average people who pass Level 3 are about 27-28 years old. Once you pass Level 2, you might be benchmarked against others who have Level 2. Be careful.

I'd just study for CFA L1 and apply for jobs now (or take the job). Don't just pick one or the other.

made new unrelated account - dont reply or message as i never use it. 

  • 1
Dec 28, 2020 - 1:38am

I'm at a very similar situation to the user who asked this question. I know that I can't get a job in the field of finance and I plan to complete both the first and the second levels of CFA in 2021 so that I'd be a stronger candidate in the job application process. I am also applying to fall 2021 MBA programs in the US. I plan to work in finance post MBA.

For a bit of context, I am a US citizen who has been living in India for the last 10 years. I've done a BBA (3 year course) with a major in Entrepreneurship from India and my GPA is 3.43/4. Post undergraduate, I tried my hand at two entrepreneurial attempts over the last 1.5 years. My first venture ended as a failure and I'm planning to move away from my second venture because of a change in personal risk profile due to family reasons. My GMAT score is 730 (Q49, V41, IR8, AWA N/A). 

I'd absolutely love any guidance, tips or general advice you have for a me. Thanks for your time!

Dec 27, 2020 - 7:11am

Thank you, appreciated your opinions.

I agree that work experience > CFA, but the job that I could accept from Jan is in trading (which is not bad at all as I have an MSc in computer science and my skills would be suitable for the role). But the point is that I do not see myself in trading for the long run, neither I want a job where I would have to code on a daily basis. This is why I am targeting the CFA, as it is more investment analysis and management focused. If I ll start in trading, I know it would be very long-hours and tiring as I ll be working on computers all day long, so If I have to be realistic I would probably give up on the CFA (or maybe taking it more slowly, 1 level per year).

So that would be option 1 (overall, start working and taking more time to complete CFA).

Option 2 will be: if I ll have level 1 and 2 completed on my CV by Aug 2021, and with an MSc with graduation date Dec 2020 and also good working experience (as I ve been working with an investment startup in portfolio management), would I still be eligible for EMEA summer or off-cycle internships? Because if yes, at that point I will have a very competitive CV imo and have opportunity to attend many ACs.

Dec 27, 2020 - 10:27am

not rude at all mate, I am fine spending this much time on a computer for the job, my point is that I see it very complex to work from 8 to 8 and then knowing that I have to study for the CFA which is a complex and expensive exam. I do not want to risk failing it, but rather complete it in the shorter-time frame possible. 

Dec 27, 2020 - 10:29am

And what do you think on my option 2? I was thinking maybe to send emails to HRs and ask if they would consider my future applications? Would that be a good idea or waste of time :) ?

Jan 3, 2021 - 4:36pm

I would study at the same time as doing the CFA. The CFA is designed for working professionals in finance, and many folks work just as long hours as you had noted. I was a management consultant working 9am-10pm every day during my tenure there and still managed to pass both level 1 and level 2. What worked for me was that I studied the most during the weekend (try to dedicate one full day to CFA alone) for about 6 months, and took 2-3 weeks off from work just before the exam to study mocks. It'll be much harder when it's August 2021 and you have yet to start/find a job after graduating in Dec. 2020. It's doable but you have to make some sacrifices (e.g., weekends are no longer free).

Jan 4, 2021 - 5:25am

Thank you for your comment. As you said it will be much harder to find a job from Aug 2021, could you please share with me why you think this? Shouldn't be equally likely or even 'a bit easier' perhaps after having completed level 2 exam? Shouldn't this show that I am committed and possess the skills to employers? 

Ps: in the meantime, I am already working with a startup, which however does not require me full time and this allows me to study, but still is good working experience to fill this gap in my CV

Jan 4, 2021 - 11:03pm

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