Here's who will actually employ you when you get your CFA

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The June CFA exams are only two months away. If you're studying for them, you might be in need of a little extra motivation. While some CFA test-takers are looking to improve their status at their current company, others are hoping the designation can open doors at more prestigious firms. Where could a CFA charter take you? The CFA Institute provided eFC with updated statistics on the companies that employ the most CFAs in 2019, as well as four years of previous data to help identify the firms that are actively adding charterholders.

As you can see in the chart below*, not one of the companies on the list saw a dip in the number of CFAs they employ over the past year. That’s particularly impressive considering nine out of the 10 firms are large banks that have generally trimmed staff since 2015. While finishing ninth overall, the big headliner is clearly Goldman Sachs, which has a significantly smaller footprint than any other firm on the list. The number of CFAs employed at Goldman has increased nearly 13% year-on-year, the biggest jump among any firm in the top 10.

While CFAs can work across a number of divisions at investment banks, Goldman’s newfound reliance on charterholders likely dates back to February of last year, when then-CEO Lloyd Blankfein said the firm planned to increase the number of advisors within its private wealth management division by 30% by 2020. At the time, Goldman’s brokerage force was comprised of only around 700 advisors. The bank also launched a sports and entertainment solutions group in 2018 to cater specifically to wealthy athletes and celebrities, along with a new initiative to push dealmakers to help wealth managers land new clients.

Goldman’s new rank of advisors could be CFAs themselves, as could the new research analysts, risk managers and other investment support roles that would be needed to build up the division. Either way, the numbers make it clear that Goldman currently sees a CFA charter as a serious value-add on a resume.

Elsewhere, J.P. Morgan is yet again the top CFA employer globally, and it’s not all that close. The bank added a net 103 charterholders since the numbers were last compiled in April 2018. Only Goldman Sachs and RBC added more (a net 145 and 112, respectively).

Overall, nine of the 10 firms that made the list in 2018 made it this year as well, with Goldman Sachs pushing Credit Suisse out of the top 10 (it finished 11th). Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that the pool of charterholders is growing faster than the number of CFAs who are retiring. Nearly 20,000 candidates passed Level III last June, adding to the 154,000 charterholders that existed at the time. A record 227,000 people signed up for one of the three levels last year, up 20% from June 2017. There are more jobs out there for CFAs, but also greater competition.


*Disclosure from the CFA Institute: Please note that employer name is self-entered and updated by the member so the data in the field may be outdated and is subject to errors due to misspellings, abbreviations, spacing/punctuation issues, etc. The data in this field is not verified by CFA Institute. To the extent possible, companies were rolled up to the parent company level for data quality purposes.

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