Getting the chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation can move your resume to the top of the pile in extremely competitive fields of portfolio management, investment banking, business development, and corporate mergers and acquisitions. The catch is that to earn the CFA, you must pass a grueling, three-part exam. Only 19% of the candidates those appear find themselves getting past successfully that grueling 3 part exam procedure.
A lot of discipline is required to actually even clear one level. Last year the percentage of candidates clearing CFA level 1 was just 35%. This year this has gone up to 46%. Its still a daunting task to actually go and clear the CFA exam.
Passing the CFA exams can act as a career path changer. If you are in finance and accounting and you want to go for investment related work this exam can help.
If you are a software developer in finance domain software company, even passing level 1 can help you getting a Business Analyst post well before even other can think of getting it. If someone wants to pursue a career in management consultancy CFA can be of great help. When you study for CFA you need to learn not only about the basics of financial mathematics, but you learn in depth about company’s balance sheets and accounting in general. You learn about ethics, about rules of proper conduct etc. This knowledge and especially the breath of this knowledge may be a good preparation for the career in Management Consultancy. In fact I know number of people, who got their charter and joined top consultancies (McKinsey, Bain, BCG). From what I hear, it seems that the knowledge they got from CFA is much more valuable than what they learned in their Masters degree
For freshers CFA can be a great value addition. KPO in particular are looking for candidates who are CFA and have some knowledge of finance. It’s a booming sector and in recent future it seems to be catching up in developing countries.
Salary wise also it’s very much rewarding. According to 2006 survey from CFA Institute CFAs earn about 54 percent more than investment analysts with similar experience who do not hold the charter. CFAs with 10 years’ experience or more even out-earned MBAs, pulling in a median of $236,510 versus $200,000. However, CFAs who also had MBAs earned the most -- a median of $255,000.
In the Indian context, historically, the vocation one would choose was the vocation the family was into. What started as the Varna system eventually metamorphosed to Caste and for a very long period the skills were passed on generation to generation deciding the vocation you undertake.
The Caste hegemony of Vocations is long lost thanks to the levelers of History. If we have to carve a separate Vocational behavior, we would say that there was a long phase in post-independence history in India, where even if an individual deviated from the lineage, she/he would have confined to a particular area, the area in which they went out to get educated.
Now that has evolved to a stage where people are not afraid to explore alternate career options; a vocation different from the lineage or education.
Today, we have an entire generation of young men and women born after liberalization, free of the burden of history to make a choice. Interestingly, the array of choices is very wide. One of the prominent domains to choose from is Finance.
What makes Finance a very interesting option is the fact that it welcomes all and one, irrespective of the current background. As a matter of fact, finance being an integral part of our life; it makes interesting concoctions with Technology, Medicine and Pure Sciences. It can be mastered along with different skill sets. The demand for multi-skilled individuals today is very high.
The next question is how to acquire the requisite skills. One of the simplest answers to that is undertaking standard Financial Certification programs. CFA, USA is considered to be of the highest pedigree globally. It keeps abreast of the most recent developments, anticipates the future needs and bolsters your conceptual understanding.
Founded in 1962, the first examination was conducted in 1963, 284 candidates sat for the first CFA exam and 268 charters were awarded in the first year — a 94 percent pass rate. From that modest beginning, the CFA Program has evolved and grown to what has been called “the gold standard” by The Economist (PDF) and the Financial Times (PDF). In June 2008, 92,801 candidates from 143 countries sat for the exam in 182 test centers in 86 countries.
The excellence mantra of CFA is quality. Over decades, it has maintained a very high level of quality of conceptual understanding and building a durable thought process. This, not only provides an individual to attain the right level of skills, but also keeps the other agencies on toes.
However, the growing popularity of the program and high rate of global changes has resulted into a fall in the pass percentage. This website has been created with a vision to build a platform where the aspirants, early birds and the financial dodos like me get to clink glasses with the stalwarts. It’s a platform where nothing is stupid, no question sacrosanct enough to not be asked and most importantly, free of any bias. Bringing together the experts and the novice to understand the versatile nature of learning challenges and utilize all the innovative learning methods, we welcome you all and wish you a great experience.
By Ashish Kumer Jha
Career Consultant for more than 15 years.