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I have a CFA Charter and am unemployed. I just feel let down

Last week, I got an email from the CFA Institute. It was all very upbeat and came with a photo of an attractive Asian woman staring excitedly into the near-distance. "Your CFA® designation played a part in helping you get where you are today," it said, adding, "We have good news: your membership can provide continual benefits to help you advance your career."

I would, unfortunately, beg to disagree. Where I am today is unemployed. My CFA "designation" may not have got me here, but neither has it done anything much to help.

The CFA Institute likes to pretend that its qualifications will transform your career, but my experience has been that they do not. People in HR teams at investment banks are not really bothered about the CFA. They want you to play their game instead. And their game is more likely to involve a coding test or an abstract reasoning test than ticking the boxes of the CFA Institute. If you can't do the new tests - if you can't write an algorithm or spot a pattern in some random shapes - you won't get a job now. Who cares that you've spent 900 hours+ getting the CFA Charter?

I find the whole thing annoying. And what's worse is that the CFA Institute seems to be forever advertising its qualifications on my Twitter and Facebook feeds. As a paid-up member of the CFA Institute ($275 a year), I feel like it's wasting my money trying to bring in more people to sit their exams, when what it needs to be doing is spending money raising awareness of their qualifications among employers. At the very least, stop advertising to me - I already have the qualification and it's doing nothing for me!

Becoming a CFA Charterholder wasn't easy. I still think the CFA Institute means well, but I also think it's a bit removed from reality. I've thought of messaging it directly with my suggestions but I'm afraid of damaging my job prospects even further in the process. Instead, I'm complaining here, practicing abstract reasoning tests - and ignoring all these emails from the CFA Institute about how wonderful they are.

Owen Morgan is the pseudonym of an equity researcher in London.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com

Photo credit:IMG_0581 by Scott Hernandez is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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AUTHOROwen Morgan Insider Comment
  • eu
    euan lowen
    14 November 2018

    When I started working there was a group of us as equity analysts and we all had to take the CFA. I passed but a couple people didn't and the firm used that as an excuse to pay them less. So no doubt it can cost you in an asset management role. However, no one hires on the basis of CFA. How tight does a competition between candidates need to be that having these three letters after your name make a difference? Most likely as close as a coin toss. The fact that CFA then also sits on piles and piles of dollars from their subscriptions just makes this more of a joke. The need to expend resources on signaling is an obvious market failure. If my company didn't pay for my subscription I would definitely not bother.

  • Pe
    Peter
    30 November 2017

    In terms of finding a job, CFA is useless. However for personal development, networking (local events on specific themes), I enjoy it. Nevertheless I had to convert to accounting and I took more (much easier) exams. I still think CFA is so much better value for money than a MBA (for people in finance)

  • Ge
    Getto Boy
    17 November 2017

    I know a lot of unemployed and underemployed CFA's. I think the face of the matter is there are just too many of them in some parts of the world. The CFA is most applicable to portfolio management and equity research. In a lot of other areas it is merely a nice designation to have eg. Sales & Trading.

  • Di
    Dino Gepetto
    1 November 2017

    I tend to agree with you. While having a CFA doesn't hurt, I don't think it makes a big difference. I've been out of work for awhile and my CFA designation doesn't seem to help get interviews when I respond to job listings. Furthermore, the CFAI keeps sending me emails encouraging me to pursue the CIPM designation. This is totally useless - why would anyone except for a tiny sliver of investment professionals need a CIPM? Yet the CIPM marketing onslaught continues unabated. I actually think anyone who has a CFA and a CIPM is an overeager geek who would turn off any job recruiter with their designation fetish.

  • th
    thang
    1 November 2017

    I invest in stocks for many years and get some success. I read cfa books sometimes. some places of the book is not good. some is good.

    I want cfa books helps my job.

    it is true that getting a cfa certficate is not easy. but honestly, cfa book make us remember many things not neccessary while they do not teach us something important.

    i never think that I can get a cfa because cfa make me remember many things unimportant.

    I think that i do not need to remember what is hedge fund, what is mutual fund but I need to focast the growth of a company. focasting growth is not taught deeply. the three tests is testing the remembrance of unimportant thing but do not test the understanding of the main problem. this situation in cfa program makes the stock trading person have to learn more from other readings.

    i can practice invest in stocks with a small amount of money. from this experience, you can get a job, a simple job at first and a good job latter.

    i finished just one year of two year MBA program and I read some books in the cfa. I can not get a formal training so, I have to read some books to help myself. I have many years of investing in stocks and get some confidence

    it is great that you got cfa. you need just a bit experience to be experts in financial investment, a high ranking field in business world.

    so, dont despair. you get the good and hard-to-get thing . buy a stock and get experience and become a fund manager with milions us dollar salaries.

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