“A CFA pass is an indication that you’re a replaceable drone, happy to earn $100k a year”

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Sausage machine?

Anton Kreil, the ex-Goldman Sachs trader turned trader-teacher, is not averse to making controversial comments. Earlier this week, Kreil said investment banking has become an industry full of middle class mediocrities.  Today, he also advises avoiding all exams running by the CFA Institute – unless you want to advertise your lack of ambition and dispensability.

“A lot of people ask me how useful passing the CFA level 1, 2 and 3 exams is. In my opinion they all have limited value,” says Kreil.

118,000 people sat the CFA exams in June 2013, up from 111,000 in 2010 and 63,000 in 2006. The CFA has been a runaway success.

However, Kreil argues that racy candidate numbers simply show how commoditised the CFA exams have become. "The CFA is a mass market exam. It won't make you any money - it will just show that you're capable of earning £50-100k ($80k-160k)," says Kreil. "A CFA pass means you're ticking all the boxes. Employers will see you as a foot soldier whom they can pay a moderate amount and easily replace with someone else who has the same exam passes."

The CFA Institute doesn't measure how much people earn upon passing its exams, and was unable to give us any data on this.

Favourably, figures do show that CFA Charter holders are unlikely to be out of work. Equally favourably, in 2012 a CFA compensation survey from the CFA Society of Pittsburgh found the mean salary of society members was $155k and the median was $125k. Less promisingly, our own research earlier this year suggested the average job requiring any kind of CFA qualification pays £66k ($105k). So maybe Kreil was right after all?

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(Related articles:

How to move out of investment banking into a high paid stable career

Want a job in a hedge fund? A CFA won't help you much

More back office employees are taking the CFA, just to keep up with peers)