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The CFA® charter: Who Is It For?

Posted on March 1, 2015 1:35 pm;

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So you’re thinking of becoming a CFA® charterholder. Read on to discover how the CFA® charter can open up opportunities and even be a life-changing experience.

If you currently work in finance

Becoming a CFA® charterholder is a way to build on your experience while enhancing your professional standing and prospects. It’s a leading industry credential held by finance professionals in key positions, and it poises you for career growth as well as the ability to shift your specialization. Take a look at some of the key positions held by CFA® charterholders, according to a CFA Institute survey.

- Portfolio managers
- Research analysts
- Chief executives
- Consultants
- Risk managers
- Corporate financial analysts
- Financial advisors
- Investment banking analysts
- Relationship managers, sales & marketing
- Traders & brokers
- Auditors

If you’re looking to switch careers

There could be many reasons why you’re looking to switch careers, but having the CFA® charter is a cost-effective way to signal your commitment to a career in finance while demonstrating you have the right skills to impress future employers. It also doesn’t mean you have to give up your other passions in life: many creative types find the right kind of inspiration in being a CFA® charterholder and many others see it as a way to be a trailblazer or make a difference in society.

Take Matt Rhodes, a writer and CFA® charterholder since 2005. He even wrote a haiku that encapsulates the CFA® charter with witty brevity.

Study guides and books?
Calculated choice. So tired.
Years pass, three letters.

Today Matt is director, Corporate FP&A and Investor Relations for Intuit, Inc. but he still finds time to write and publish in his spare time.

There’s also Emily Moré Hollis, who swapped life as a professional ballerina to gain her CFA® charter  in 1990. Five years later she set up her own financial advisors company with a fellow CFA® charterholder partner and today the company has $18bn under management. Emily sees parallels between being a ballet dancer and a CFA® charterholder, saying, “I truly believe that drive, discipline and determination is essential in being successful in anything you want to do in life.”

Wallace B Millner qualified as a CFA® charterholder in 1970. For him art provided a release from the challenges and nature of his work that often took over his life. Once he retired he no longer regarded art as just a hobby and turned it into his occupation. “I think that the hard work you have to go through to earn the charter forces you to have discipline and in art, discipline is really important,” he says.

The CFA® charter can be a catalyst in so many ways. With its strict emphasis on ethical standards, it is seen as a standard bearer for advancing ethical conduct across the investment industry. CFA® charterholder Mike Mayo even acted as a whistleblower revealing the questionable practices of major banks ahead of the 2008 financial crisis and then wrote a book about his experience titled Exile on Wall Street.

For others, the CFA® charter can be a catalyst for change in their home countries. Clifford Mpare CFA returned to his native Ghana after 30 years of working in the U.S. and sees the charter as critical for the growth of Africa’s economies and the well-being of its people. Bayarsaikhan Davaadorj, CFA® charterholder since 2012, is only the second charterholder in Mongolia, but his aim is to help spread the word to others in his country about the CFA® Program.

And for others the CFA® charter can be used to make a difference on a community level. Réjane Woodroffe, CFA, left behind a career as Chief Economist and Head of International Portfolio Investments for a major investment house to become the director of the Bulungula Incubator, an innovative rural development NGO operating in one of South Africa’s poorest areas. In her spare time she also serves as a trustee for an NGO that focuses on land and fisher people’s rights, as well as advising the South African government on managing its $165 billion pension fund – the largest on the continent.

If you’re a student or fresh graduate

You have the academic knowledge but you know that to make it in the field of finance you need to stand out from the crowd and offer industry relevant skills. The CFA® charter is an excellent way to demonstrate that you have the commitment and high level ability to succeed. It also sets you up for working within a variety of investment specialties and markets around the globe - the world is waiting for you!

So you think the CFA® charter is for you? Here’s what it takes to join this elite community of professionals.

References:
CFA Institute, Celebrating 50 Years of the CFA® charter
http://celebrate.cfainstitute.org.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/index.html (Accessed May 2014)

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