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Why the CFA® Journey Is a Competition Among Candidates

CFA candidates competing for the CFA Charter

Due to the high-performance-driven nature of the finance and investment management industries, finance professionals are among the most competitive people in the world. This competitive spirit often fuels ambition among finance professionals to advance their careers to greater heights. To get the edge on their peers, most turn to the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA)®, widely considered the highest credential in the investment management profession. Below are a few reasons why the CFA journey is a competition among CFA candidates:

1) Finance Firms Are Highly Selective

Whether you want to work at a large global financial firm or a small boutique shop, getting your foot in the door is a highly selective process. From the moment you are being considered for employment, you are already up against candidates who, like you, got good grades from good schools. All these firms have a common desire to hire only the best candidates to fill their highly-coveted positions.

2) High Performance and Expertise-Driven

It is fair to say that every financial institution, especially global firms, emphasizes high performance as a core value. This results-driven culture informs how they recruit and evaluate employees in determining compensation and career advancement. As a result, finance professionals understand that they have to perform to the best of their ability and effectively outperform their colleagues.

3) Preference for CFA Charterholders

Many global firms put a premium on hiring and promoting CFA charterholders because they believe that CFA charterholders offer them more value. Here are a few reasons why they think that:

  • Grit and Determination. It’s an arduous journey to obtain the Charter. You need an undergraduate degree, four years of work experience in the financial industry, and, of course, you have to pass all three CFA Exam levels.
  • Enhanced Training. Regardless of the makeup of the firm’s clientele, CFA charterholders have been trained to stay abreast of current events and noteworthy trends. In addition, since the CFA Charter focuses on portfolio management and investment analysis, charterholders are well equipped to take on financial analyst and wealth management roles for diverse clients.
  • High Ethical Standards. Charterholders are hardwired to embody and enforce compliance and honesty. The CFA curriculum includes significant material on ethics for all three levels. This likelihood for Charterholders to have high ethical standards also makes them more attractive to their employers.

Some of the top companies that hire Charterholders include:

  1. JP Morgan Chase
  2. UBS
  3. RBC
  4. Bank of America/Merrill Lynch
  5. HSBC
  6. Wells Fargo
  7. Morgan Stanley
  8. Citigroup
  9. BlackRock
  10. Goldman Sachs

Source: CFA Institute

4) Career Advancement

Thanks to its reputation as one of the most prestigious financial certifications, the CFA Designation unlocks several doors to career advancement. According to CFA Institute, obtaining the CFA Charter provides Charterholders with significant advantages over their non-chartered colleagues, priming them for promotions. Some of those advantages include:

  • A robust ethical foundation
  • Earned prestige and recognition of your expertise
  • Increased know-how to make complex investment decisions
  • A global network of fellow Charterholders

While your own performance is paramount in determining your career progression, these advantages can accelerate your pathway to career advancement. That’s why many ambitious finance professionals seek to pursue the CFA Charter, and the difficulty of that journey prepares them for an uber-competitive environment once they launch their careers.


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