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“A CFA pass is an indication that you’re a replaceable drone, happy to earn $100k a year”

Sausage machine?

Anton Kreil, the ex-Goldman Sachs trader turned trader-teacher, is not averse to making controversial comments. Earlier this week, Kreil said investment banking has become an industry full of middle class mediocrities.  Today, he also advises avoiding all exams running by the CFA Institute – unless you want to advertise your lack of ambition and dispensability.

“A lot of people ask me how useful passing the CFA level 1, 2 and 3 exams is. In my opinion they all have limited value,” says Kreil.

118,000 people sat the CFA exams in June 2013, up from 111,000 in 2010 and 63,000 in 2006. The CFA has been a runaway success.

However, Kreil argues that racy candidate numbers simply show how commoditised the CFA exams have become. "The CFA is a mass market exam. It won't make you any money - it will just show that you're capable of earning £50-100k ($80k-160k)," says Kreil. "A CFA pass means you're ticking all the boxes. Employers will see you as a foot soldier whom they can pay a moderate amount and easily replace with someone else who has the same exam passes."

The CFA Institute doesn't measure how much people earn upon passing its exams, and was unable to give us any data on this.

Favourably, figures do show that CFA Charter holders are unlikely to be out of work. Equally favourably, in 2012 a CFA compensation survey from the CFA Society of Pittsburgh found the mean salary of society members was $155k and the median was $125k. Less promisingly, our own research earlier this year suggested the average job requiring any kind of CFA qualification pays £66k ($105k). So maybe Kreil was right after all?

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(Related articles:

How to move out of investment banking into a high paid stable career

Want a job in a hedge fund? A CFA won't help you much

More back office employees are taking the CFA, just to keep up with peers)








AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Bo
    8 September 2016

    Too many people are doing the CFA. How many CFA's does the finance industry need? Not much. The industry is becoming over saturated.

  • An
    27 August 2016

    I completely agree the CFA program is good for teaching you the concepts and laying the foundation to research. I also agree it is academic in that, if you are not a good test taker or good at memorization, you will likely fail. The CFA is good for entry level professionals but I think it is useless for someone who has multiple years in the investment world.

  • Si
    17 October 2013

    I am a CFA Charterholder myself. Essentially, the CFA program is good in itself teaching you the concepts and laying the foyndation to research. But, being true to yourself, if one assesses from a practical/vocational point of view it is not objective. Rather it is academic in its works. A lot of us struggle to get into banking or hedhe funds or other research roles. You have to look at it from an outside US and UK poibt of view too.

    If we were to be given a role to manage money immediately after the ciurse, truly noy many could that. The PTM from ITPM focusses purely on those areas that need a money manager's hat on moving from being a trader to a portfolio manager and the reverse based on situations in the market.

    I am if the opinion that building wealth is the objective of most people doing the CFA. So why not assess both honestly.

  • Th
    8 October 2013

    Empty talk from some clown trader who couldn't do better than a B.A. from Manchester, in my view...

    I know all the Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton grads who also have CFAs (I'm one of them) are quaking in their boots...

  • An
    7 October 2013

    Don't know about you, if I go to a doctor I choose the qualified one over the unqualfied

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