Does CFA charter help in switching careers?

By: Nitin Shrivastava, CFA, VP, S-Ancial Global Solutions

There is often a debate on whether and how earning a CFA charter can help somebody in switching the careers. Well, in my case it has proved to be right.

Being an engineering graduate with post-graduation in marketing management, till about eight years back, I was into technical sales of electronic components and semi-conductors. It was then, I decided to switch my career to finance – into equity research.

Though it may seem total shift, it was not that difficult considering my analytical skills and my prior experience — of dealing with corporates and OEMs to understand their business. Fortunately, I got a break with one of the brokerage firms as a mid-cap analyst during the boom period of 2007. However it was short lived as the great financial crisis that followed meant that brokerages laid off people and some of them even had to shut shop. With just around 2 years’ relevant experience and market conditions being bad, it was difficult for me to get another job in equity research. As I did not wanted to leave the finance industry, I took up the job with financial media house as an analyst and markets reporter.

It was then that I decided to enroll for the CFA program so as to sharpen by finance and investment management knowledge. After all, the CFA designation earns you a great deal of respect and trust apart from providing a chance to advance the career.

I knew it would be a tough task but at the same time believed that it was the only way for me to prove myself to the world. At the same I was very much aware that just by earning a charter, getting a job in the investment profession once again was not assured.

The first step towards earning CFA charter is to just go out and register yourself for the CFA program. Unless you have registered for the program and paid the fees, the motivation to study does not come. After all you have invested a pretty good amount!!

The next thing is to chalk out a study schedule and consistently read and go through the CFA program curriculum.  As the CFA program curriculum covers almost all the aspects and topics related to investment management and capital markets, it helped me to gain more insights that helped me in my job that I was doing then.

The program is not just about earning the coveted CFA designation. The best part of being a CFA member or candidate is the chance to interact with other investment professionals through the local CFA society. I used the opportunity to network and develop contacts with several experienced people who guided me on my career path. The several workshops and events that local CFA society (IAIP in my case) conducted also helped me to sharpen my skills.

By the time, I cleared the level 3 of CFA program and earned my CFA charter, I had developed rapport with few senior people in the industry who did help me in providing interview opportunities. Having a CFA designation on the business card also e helped to get immediate connection with fellow CFA charter holders and others. After about four months post earning the CFA charter, I got an opportunity to work with a financial firm that was into investor relations advisory and investment banking business.

When I look back after earning the CFA designation, I feel that the journey was less tough than anticipated. It definitely helps to take one step at a time and not think about the rewards too early.

Though it requires dedication, commitment and hard work and doesn’t assure one of the desired job profile, it definitely aids in enhancing the career prospects. Leaving alone everything else, the sheer confidence and recognition one gets after being a CFA charter holder is worth the effort.

– NS

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