Career of a CFA

Hopefuls on the lookout for careers in Finance, particularly financial investment and research  would be advised to earn a CFA charter. The CFA exam is highly regarded as the exam to do if a candidate is serious about a career in Finance. The career of a CFA is lucrative internationally. Employers across the world consider prospective candidates desirable if they are CFA charterholders. This is because the CFA program tests candidates on all key areas in investment finance and expect them to have relevant work experience. This means candidates have to work, learn and pass the CFA exam. The CFA charterholder is therefore seen as someone serious about a career in finance with sound fundamentals.

In data published by the CFA Institute their charter holders are listed as having roles in the following areas:

  • Equities
  • Fixed Income
  • Derivatives
  • Private Equities
  • Hedge Funds
  • Real Estate
  • Consultation

Some of the top employers of CFAs include :

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Citigroup
  • Credit Suisse
  • Deutsche Bank
  • HSBC
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
  • RBC
  • UBS
  • Wells Fargo

The CFA Institute has published self-reported figures of occupations held by CFA holders.The chart does not include retired and unemployed candidates.

Let us take a brief look at these roles.

Portfolio Manager: They are managers who are entrusted with investor funds, and who choose investments that can help them beat the market. They are assisted by analysts and researchers. They are offered investment choices from buy and sell side analysts in investment banks; they use their expertise to assess and make investment decisions for their portfolios. It is one of the most sought out role in Wall Street. This  requires data assessment skills and decision making skills that weigh risk vs. returns.

Research Analysts: Portfolio managers make their decisions primarily from reports and analysis of research analysts. Analysts study sector/sectors in-depth and make buy or sell suggestions to fund managers. They need to plumb data extensively and need to have strong numerical skills as well as good reporting skills that will help fund managers make informed decisions. Some of the organizations who hire analysts are mutual, pension funds, insurance companies, hedge funds, investment banks securities firms, banks,financial consultants and market intelligence groups.

Chief Executive: The top ranking executive post in any organization can be held by a CFA holder. The Chief executive role will see the incumbent oversee all operations; she will be an adviser to the board and a leader to the teams she leads. She has to be able to assess  risk in key decisions.

Financial Consultant: This role involves looking at a client's business and helping them assess how to streamline their operations, improve investment decisions, look for new areas of growth among other things. They can also assist in asset allocation.

Risk Manager: Risk manager roles can be found in the areas of enterprise risk, regulatory and operational risk, corporate governance, information and security risk, business continuity, technology risk, and market and credit risk. Their responsibilities include identifying, assessing risk in an organization and arriving at methods to contain them. They also set acceptable levels of risk for the organization as well as training teams about the types of risk the firm faces. Many people also opt for risk specific certification exams such as PRM or FRM.

Corporate Financial Analyst: Persons in this role work within corporations on for instance mergers and acquisitions. They are required to analyze and prepare reports with review mechanisms that meet compliance standards of various regulations. They are also expected to review standard business processes and suggest methods to improve them. Corporate financial consultants are expected to conduct annual financial audits of the various legal entities of the corporation.

Financial Advisor: As the name suggests financial advisors offer suggestions about the different kind of investment products and decisions an investor can make. Their clients could be individuals or corporates.

Relationship Managers-Sales and Marketing: This role is the account servicing of the advertising world. Post customer-acquisition relationship managers have to keep customers informed about new products, the status of their current investments and any other concerns or queries they might have regarding their investments. It is a customer retaining and nurturing role.

Private Banker: High net worth clients are provided with private bankers. Private bankers advise and inform their clients about investment choices they can make. Not only do they take care of banking operations for their wealthy clients but they also offer customized investment solutions for them. The private banker is therefore in a sense a key account manager offering personalized banking services. Wells Fargo,UBS, RBC, Standard bank offer private banking for their large individual holdings accounts.

Trader: The individuals in trader roles buy and sell stock on behalf of their clients. They execute trades on the stock floor. They undertake these trades on behalf of banks or individuals. They do assessment of stocks, watch their performance making a profit by selling high and buying low.

The roles available in the professional arena for a CFA are varied and rich in the area of finance. Companies, world over seek CFA professionals for their depth of knowledge and perseverance.The CFA is seen as a global standard, with professionals having a CFA accepted in France, China, India or Japan. If a career in financial investment interests you, becoming a CFA can open many doors for you.